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North Carolina State Finds Renewed Strength in NCAA Tournament Opener

The North Carolina State Wolfpack are tired of hearing about fatigue, but their performance on the court suggests otherwise. In a dominant showing, the 11th-seeded Wolfpack surged past the sixth-seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders with an 80-67 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Ben Middlebrooks led the charge with a career-high 21 points, showcasing the team’s resilience and determination.

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North Carolina State

Despite enduring a grueling five-game winning streak in the North Carolina State ACC Tournament to secure an automatic bid, N.C. State showed no signs of emotional or physical weariness. Middlebrooks expressed the team’s growing strength with each game, stating, “It seems like we’re getting stronger every game we play.”

Indeed, the Wolfpack displayed remarkable depth, seamlessly adapting North Carolina State when faced with early foul trouble. Middlebrooks stepped up to fill the void, capitalizing on opportunities inside against the smaller Red Raiders. Coach Kevin Keatts commended the team’s strategic focus on post play, emphasizing their effective inside-out approach.

Contributions came from various players, with Jericole Hellems adding 16 points and Mo Diarra recording a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. DJ Horne also made his mark with 16 points. The Wolfpack, who faced doubts after dropping four consecutive games at the end of the regular season, have now rallied for six consecutive victories.

Looking ahead, N.C. State will face 14th-seeded Oakland in the next round, setting the stage for an unexpected underdog story in the South Region semifinals. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders, led by Joe Toussaint’s 16 points, struggled to find their rhythm, shooting just 22.6% from beyond the arc.

For N.C. State, the victory marks a remarkable turnaround from their position just 10 days ago. Despite facing uncertainty surrounding Coach Keatts’ future and entering the ACC Tournament as the 10th seed, the Wolfpack defied expectations with wins over formidable rivals Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina to clinch the title. This latest triumph underscores their newfound resilience and determination on the national stage.

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