Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: State vs. Wake Forest

Brett Friedlander

WINSTON-SALEM -- No college basketball game in early December can truly be a must win. But for NC State, today's game at Wake Forest sure feels like one.

Coming off a big resume building win against Wisconsin in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at home on Wednesday, the Wolfpack would like to keep the momentum rolling as it heads toward the meat of the schedule. More importantly, coach Kevin Keatts' team can't afford to squander a second straight ACC opportunity against one of the league's bottomfeeders.

Based solely on the two rosters, State shouldn't have any trouble with the struggling Deacons, who come into the game at 5-4 (0-1 ACC). But history suggests that it doesn't matter how good or bad the teams are or who happens to be playing for them.

The Wolfpack is 6-23 all-time at Joel Coliseum and has lost six of its last seven trips here -- including one last year in which it rallied from a 22-point deficit to tie the game, only to let it slip away in the final moments.

This one should be interesting, so be sure to check back here frequently for updates and analysis ...

PREGAME

Deacon motorcycle at Joel

Devon Daniels still in the starting lineup in place of C.J. Bryce. … Doubt Bryce missed another tape session. My guess is that Keatts is superstitious and is sticking with the lineup that won last game against Wisconsin. The rest of the starters are the same ... Johnson, Beverly, Hellems and Bates ...

One of the things that makes Joel Coliseum is the motorcycle the Deacon mascot rides out onto the court for the pregame warmups. Interesting, though that the motorcycle isn't pointed in the direction of the visitors' bench as it has in the past. I've always been convinced that was designed to send noxious carbon monixide fumes into the other team's huddle, leading them to get off to slow starts until the effects start to wear off. ...

FIRST HALF

Hellems is off to a quick start. He's got career highs in each of his past two games and he just scored the game's first basket here ...

They're clearly going to let them play today. ... Already Devon Daniels and Hellems have been sent crashing to the court while driving to the rim with no calls. Let's see if it stays that way all afternoon of if they change the way they call in midstream ...

Mike Eages, Bill Covington Jr. and Mark Schnur are the officials today, by the way ...

It's not been an asthetically beautiful start here. Wake has turned it over four times and State is 2 for its first 8, with all the misses coming from inside of five feet ...

First TV timeout: Wolfpack 5, Deacons 2 

Bryce comes in and immediately sinks a 3 ... The redshirt senior appears to be adapting well to coming off the bench ...

Three straight 3s -- by Bryce, Daniels and Johnson -- help State open up a 14-4 lead ...

Manning calls timeout with 12:24 left in the half ... State up by 10 at 18-8 ...

So far, so good for the Wolfpack. State has heated up after its cold start and is now shooting 52 percent (13 of 25 overall) and has made six of nine 3-pointers. And while it's being outrebounded 12-8, it's limited the Deacons' second chances by allowing only two offensive rebounds -- which has been a problem this season.

manny bates at wake

Under 8 TV timeout ... State 32, Wake 21

An audible Wolf .... Pack chant goes up coming out of the timeout. It's a sparse gathering here at The Joel and almost half of those here are wearing red. You have to think that Danny Manning is on his way out as bad as this team -- and attendance -- is ...

D.J. Funderburk off to a strong start offensively with eight points. He's attempted and missed two 3-pointers, however. He needs to stop taking those and leave them to the guys who can make them consistently ... The rest of the team is 7 of 9 from beyond the arc ...

Under 4 TV timeout: State 41, Wake 28

Daniels is rewarded for a flop with an offensive foul call … so much for doing away with flopping ...

State scored only two points in the final three minutes of the half, allowing the Deacons to cut a 15-point lead down to just seven ... but that one basket came at the buzzer by Bryce to send the Wolfpack to the locker room ahead 45-36 ...

at wake box half 2019

HALFTIME 

It doesn't get any better than this!!! Red Panda! She wasn't in midseason form but she was still amazing. Best halftime entertainment, bar none. Never fails to entertain!!!

I've always wondered how someone goes about deciding one day to start catching bowls on their head while riding a unicycle. ... 

SECOND HALF

State begins the second half on a 5-2 run and just 1:27 in, Danny Manning calls a Bzdelik tribute timeout ... 

The Wolfpack is up by 12 and appears to be in charge, this one is far from over. Last year State trailed by 22 in the second half and still managed to rally to tie the game before letting it slip away late ...

Hellems has 13 points and is 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He's blossoming with every game he plays ...

Under 16 TV timeout ... State 55, Wake 42

Saar just got poked in the eye and has gone to the bench ... The Wake center has seven points and five rebounds. State has done a nice job on him so far ...

Saar is back in and the Wolfpack keeps allowing the Deacs to hang around ... the lead is still at 11, but State still can't put these guys away ...

Under 8 TV timeout ... State 69, Wake 56

Not a lot of kissing going on with this Kiss Cam here at Joel .... finally, on about the fourth couple they showed, we get a smooch and the fan erupts in a mock ovation. Been that kind of season for the Deacons ...

Bryce finally makes a free throw, ending a 2:38 State drought ... Wolfpack still up by 11

Beverly is 4 for 4 on 3s ... as a team, State is 12 of 20 from beyond the arc today (60 percent). ...

That's four fouls on Hellems with 5:07 left ... 

State trying to give this one away, two straight turnovers. Wolfpack gets bailed out on the second one when Saar is called for a charge on Daniels, who appeared to be in the semicircle.  ...

The Wolfpack had committed only 13 turnovers in its past two games combined. It has 14 today alone ...

Under 4 TV timeout: State 77, Wake 64

Bates fouls out with 2:08 left. He had a nice game with eight points (4 of 4 from the floor), three rebounds and four blocked shots ...

State is shooting 54 percent from 3-point range and 25 percent from the free throw line … go figure ... 

Finally, Markell Johnson converts a pair of free throws and State is up 83-70 with a minute left ... And now he hits two more than the lead is still 11 with 50.3 seconds left ...

Ball looked like it went out of the Wake defender. Called Deacs ball … they're going to the monitor. State letting this one slip away. Having trouble with Wake's press … 85-78 with 40.2 seconds left ...

Welp ... still Deacs' ball. A 3 here and it stats to get interesting ....

And there's the 3 ... from Brandon Childress and it's 85-80.

Hellems is down and in pain after a collision with two Wake players going for the rebound. How there was no call on that contact is beyond me ...

Saar tackled Hellems and Hellems is injured. They called a foul on Saar, but apparently they're counting the Wake basket that cuts it to 85-80. Very strange sequence. More important, Hellems is in real distress ...

So the foul wasn't on Saar, but on Isaiah Mucius and it's been ruled a flagrant one ...

Paramedics are bringing out a back board and putting Hellems on it. This doesn't look good, folks ... it's VERY quiet in here right now.

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Brett Friedlander/SI Wolfpack Maven

Just heard from a friend watching on TV that Hellems hit the back of his head on the floor when Saar came down on him ... 

State was shaky down the stretch but hangs on for an important 91-82 win at Wake. Now the focus is on how badly Jericole Hellems is hurt

at wake final box 2019
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