Keatts: Wolfpack 'get one back on the road'

Brett Friedlander

WINSTON-SALEM -- NC State’s 91-82 victory at Wake Forest on Saturday might have been only the second time in the past eight years that the Wolfpack has won on the Deacons’ home court.

But as coach Kevin Keatts pointed out, it was his second win in three tries in Winston-Salem.

Still, he acknowledged that Joel Coliseum is a tough place to play and after his team’s loss in first ACC game on opening night to Georgia Tech, this was a game the Wolfpack had to have.

Here’s what Keatts had to say in his postgame press conference, starting with an update on the health of sophomore Jericole Hellems -- who was taken to the hospital on a back board after taking a hard fall in the final minute of the game:

"If you would do me a favor and obviously keep Jericole Hellems and his family in your prayers, it would mean a lot to us."

"Good game. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of coming in here on the road and getting a good road win. When you think about the fact that we felt like the opening game of the year that we gave away an ACC game, I talked to those guys about going on the road and we had to figure out how to get one back. I think we played the last four halves of really good basketball dating back to the second half of the Memphis game and then the entire (game against) Wisconsin. I think we’re building on it."

I'm happy with our guys. I thought our guys did a tremendous job. When you look at the fact that we had six guys in double digit figures, that shows you how balanced we are. I thought Manny Bates was tremendous -- eight points, almost five rebounds and he blocked a lot of shots. I’m happy with what we have with our rotation. I think that everybody that’s playing in the game is contributing. As you guys know when we get a road win, we’re going to get our first ice cream of the year. So, I’m excited about that."

Keatts said he never mentioned State's difficulties at Joel Coliseum to his players before the game ...

"We don’t. These kids don’t understand that. I happen to see it but we’ve had some success in here. My last two out of three years, we’ve been able to win. It’s a tough place to play. We thought we had a chance last year, but we were without Markell Johnson. When you look at it, I thought our guys did a good job. They’re locked in. They don’t care about that stuff. They wouldn’t know if we won 20 games here or we lost 20 games here. We just locked in on what we had to do to be successful."

State shot 54.5 percent from 3-point range. According to Keatts, it wasn't by accident ...

"We shot the ball well from three. We were 12 for 22. To be honest with you, I was a little mad because I thought we passed up some shots that we could have made. Jericole had a three in the corner that I thought he should have taken and then the same thing with C.J. Bryce. But we worked on shots. We’ve been putting a lot of work on making shots. We expected when we came into this game that we could see a mixture of man-to-man and that 3-2 matchup, so we spent a lot of time the last couple of days on making shots from behind the arc."

Keatts was asked if he saw what happened on Hellems' injury ...

"I didn’t see what happened. I was able to talk to him and I told him to hang in there. He was talking. He was communicating with those guys. After I leave you guys, I’m going to go by and check on him."

"It’s scary. These are my kids and anytime you see one of your kids on the floor it’s tough. It was hard for me the last 28 seconds of the game because it was hard for me to focus on the game knowing that we had one of our kids down on the floor."

At 7-2 and heading into a week off before playing again, Keatts said he likes the way his team is progressing ...

"I love the way that we’re playing. With this team, it has been a little bit slow developing roles. I think guys understand now what I expect from them and what we expect from them as a coaching staff. They’re starting to understand their roles and how to play, so I’m happy with the way our guys are playing."

Although the Wolfpack got off to something of a disjointed start, playing without Markell Johnson and D.J. Funderburk early in the season, Keatts said that State is finally starting to develop some chemistry ...

"I think we’re moving towards that. Because of the fact that Markell was out for a game or so and D.J. was out for a couple of games.and not even that, when you look at the fact that he didn’t have a chance to play in our closed scrimmage or our exhibition, it’s tough to develop chemistry. He’s still trying to get into great shape. I do like, when you look at the last two games, I like the direction that we’re moving in."

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