Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: State at UNC

Brett Friedlander

At face value, NC State's rivalry matchup against North Carolina and the Smith Center looks like a slam dunk for the Wolfpack.

Coach Kevin Keatts' team is playing good basketball of late and it needs this win to stay on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, are in the throes of an epic slump, having lost seven straight while falling to 10-17 overall (3-13 in the ACC).

Nothing, however, is ever routine when it comes to the Wolfpack ... especially where UNC is concerned.

That was the case in Raleigh on Jan. 27 when the wounded Tar Heels played their best game of the season in beating State 75-65 at PNC Arena. And that was without injured star point guard Cole Anthony.

Anthony is back and his 19 point per game average are back. But he's not the player State is most concerned about. That honor would go to junior big man Garrison Brooks, who terrorized the Wolfpack for 25 points and 11 rebounds in that win a month ago -- which, by the way, was the last time UNC won a game.

Keeping Brooks and fellow big Armando Bacot off the glass and staying out of foul trouble figure to be deciding factors in this one. So will State's ability to make some shots and not turn the ball over.

If there's one thing the Wolfpack has going for it, it's that its last two wins in this series have come here at the Dean Dome.

Make sure to stop by here throughout the game for live updates and analysis.

While you're waiting for tipoff, here are links to our coverage leading up to the game to help keep you busy:

Wolfpack Tipoff: Game 28, at UNC

NC State at Home in the Dean Dome

Devon Daniels Named ACC Player of the Week

Wolfpack Determined to Rebound in Second Chance Against UNC

Loss to FSU Doesn't Hurt Wolfpack's NCAA Chances

PREGAME

The usual starting lineup of Markell Johnson, Devon Daniels, C.J. Bryce, D.J. Funderburk and Manny Bates for State. UNC counters with Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot ...

Brooks missed the Tar Heels' game at Louisville on Saturday with an unspecified illness. He returned to practice on Monday and appears to be back at full strength for the matchup with the Wolfpack ...

A lot of State fans in the house tonight, as evidenced by the loud "Wolfpack" at the end of the national anthem ...

Bill Covington, Michael Stephens and Tony Henderson are the men in stripes tonight ...

Bryce was held scoreless in the first meeting with the Tar Heels on Jan. 27, going 0 for 8 from the floor. Needless to say, State needs him to be on his game tonight. .... It could also use the "Good Markell" to be here as well ...

The start is bewing delayed by some wetness on the floor. It's been dried up and here we go ...

FIRST HALF

Johnson with a quick three and Bates alley oop. Now Johnson hard to the hoop makes it 7-0  ... Good start, but remember, State was up 7-0 last time before the bottom dropped out ...

Now Markell from downtown ... 10-0. Still too early to tell, but it sure looks a lot like the "Good Markell" tonight ...

UNC is finally on the board as Anthony takes Daniels along the baseline, scores and is fouled. But misses the free throw ...

Keatts put Braxton Beverly in to get Johnson a couple extra possessions before the TV timeout, but it turned into about four possessions and UNC responds by scoring six unanswered points before the Wolfpack finally gets a whistle (on a Bryce offensive foul). That didn't workout well. 

First TV timeout: State 13, UNC 8

Brooks with an offensive rebound, Bates with his second foul and UNC is back to within two ...

Game on ...

Now two fouls on Daniels ...

Devon Daniels foul at UNC
Devon Daniels is called for a blocking foul on UNC's Justin PierceBob Donnan/USAToday sports

If Christian Keeling played State every game, he'd be an All-American ... He's 3 of 3 for six points. 

Fouls are State 6, UNC 2.

Under 12 TV timeout: Wolfpack 17, Tar Heels 15

Two fouls on Bacot, trying to get position on Funderburk down low. Roy keeps him in the game ...

Terrible call on Funderburk. He was standing still with arms raised. You have to be more consistent than that Tony Henderson ...

Hellems with two now. Eight teams fouls on State ...

Pat Andree makes his first appearance. Wolfpack is in borderline serious foul trouble ...

Beverly with State's last five points to extend the lead back to six as the chant of "Wolf" "Pack" can be heard at the Smith Center ...

Under 8 TV timeout: State 26, UNC 23

Just like the last time, Brooks is eating State up inside. That's his third and-one already tonight. He's got 11 points and three offensive rebounds. ...  

Andree with two fouls now ... 10 on the Wolfpack (UNC has four) ...

Under 4 TV timeout: State 33, UNC 32

Funderburk and Danny Dixon on the court at the same time. I believe it's the first time all season that has happened ...

Pierce fouled by Dixon. He comes up limping, but will shoot two to try and tie the score. He makes one ...

A lot of contact on that Bryce drive. No call ...

Brooks back Dixon in and scores. UNC leads for the first time, 38-37 ... 

And now they call a touch foul on Anthony 25 feet from the basket ... 

State is 1 for its last 8 from the floor and has gone just over two minutes without scoring ...

Each team turns the ball over twice in the final 18 seconds and Leaky Black ends up scoring at the buzzer to give UNC a 3-point lead heading into the break. 

Great start, miserable finish for the Wolfpack. 

Halftime: UNC 40, State 37

at unc half box

SECOND HALF

The next 20 minutes are by far the most important of the season to date for the Wolfpack. This is a game it can not afford to lose ...

UNC scores to start the second half, so that last play of the first half turns into a two-fer .

First two fouls of the half are on UNC. Maybe it will turn around from the first like it did against Florida State on Saturday ...

Daniels with a three and the Wolfpack is back on top ... First points of the night for last week's ACC Player of the Week ...

Now Johnson is attacking the basket with abandon and scores ... State has made four of its first five second half shots. It has outscored UNC 9-4 since halftime. But starting the period isn't the problem for the Wolfpack ...

Daniels picks up his third foul.

Under 16 TV timeout: State 48, UNC 44

State is shooting 51 percent from the floor, but is only 5 of 17 from three. UNC, however, has made only one of its 10 from beyond the arc ... 

Wolfpack playing with a lot more urgency this half ... but can it maintain it?

Markell Johnson scoring over Bacot
Markell Johnson scores over UNC's Armando BacotBob Donnan/USAToday sports

Two straight and-ones for the Tar Heels and the seven-point lead State had built is now back to two ...

Johnson back in. He's got to play the last 13:26 without coming out again. The Wolfpack isn't the same team without him on the floor ...

Four offensive rebounds on this possession for UNC ... and Anthony finally scores at the rim ... tie game.

Keatts talked about that very thing the other day. He mentioned a possession in the first game in which the Tar Heels had five cracks at the basket before finally scoring. This time it only took four. He can't be happy ...

And now UNC is back on top ... Brooks has 17 ...

UNC is on a 9-0 run and State has gone 2:52 without scoring. These kind of droughts happen at least once or twice a game for the Wolfpack. It has had several chances to get separation tonight and each time has promptly led UNC back into it. 

State might have to overcome itself as much as the Tar Heels tonight ...

Daniels will go to the line for two and a chance to tie when play resumes:

Under 12 TV timeout: Tar Heels 54, Wolfpack 52

There's Keeling again ... back to back buckets. He's 5 of 5 tonite and has 10 ... And now Anthony gets a steal and dunk. Crowd going wild ... State down six and turns it over ...This one is getting away from the Wolfpack in a hurry ...

Keeling again. This time for three ... and Keatts wants timeout. UNC 63, State 53 with 8:57 left ...

Three-point play for Brooks. He's got 20 and State is down 10 ... It's a head game now. And the Wolfpack is losing both that and the actual game ...

Under 8 TV timeout: UNC 67, State 56

And it keeps getting worse for State … an earlier basket by Keeling has now been ruled a 3 … Wolfpack now trails by 11 with 7:48 left. That makes it a 21-4 Tar Heel run ...

Hellems stops the bleeding with a 3 ...

Keeling is human. He finally misses ...

Daniels had Hellems on a 2 on 1 ... kept the ball instead of passing ... charges into Anthony for his fourth foul. State still down 10 with time running out ...

UNC has gone the last 2:44 without a field goal. Can the Wolfpack take advantage?

Funderburk scores from close range and is fouled by Pierce. It's down to a four-point game with 2:30 left ...

Bryce answers a Keeling layup with a trey ... three point game ...

Anthony misses one of two ... 1:53 still left ...

Hellems misses a three, ball out to UNC. Keatts wants it reviewed ... A lot of hands were there. This won't be overturned. Tough to tell who it was off ... 

And it stays Carolina ball ...

Anthony with a potential dagger late in the shot clock ....

You have to start fouling Brooks immediately every time now. Make this as long a game as possible ...

Brooks makes both, though, and it's a six point game again ...

Keatts uses his last timeout following a Hellems putback ... UNC leads 80-76 with 34.2 seconds left ...

Even though he made the last two and is 10 for 12 from the line, you have to keep fouling Brooks ...

Give the kid credit. Brooks is making them all tonight ... Two more and he's got 28 ... 

Brooks with two more and this one is done ...

State loses for the second time this season to a bad UNC team, the Tar Heels' only wins since Jan. 25, and the Wolfpack's NCAA hopes are back on life support ...

Final: UNC 85, State 79

at UNC box final
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