Five observations: NC State steals one from LSU

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The No. 8 seed North Carolina State Wolfpack roared back for a 66-65 victory over the No. 9 seed LSU Tigers on Thursday night.

Here are five observations from that game:

  • BeeJay Anya scored the winning hoop from the low post, taking a feed from Trevor Lacey and connecting on a hook shot that seemed to hang on the edge of the rim for an eternity. But when it fell, it rewarded the unsung big man for a strong night. Anya finished with just four points, but they all came in the last 46 seconds, when the Wolfpack needed hoops and his inside presence most. He added seven rebounds, helping to keep LSU's dominant inside presence at bay.

  • This was a comeback or a crash, depending on your point of view, but from the neutral bird's eye, it looked more like a crash. LSU was 0 for its last 12, hitting its last field goal with 10:26 left in the game, and missed six consecutive free throws in the final three minutes. LSU stopped attacking the rim with gusto, settling for layups instead of going to the rack with authority, and that opened the door for the Wolfpack, who happily charged through it.

  • That said, credit NC State for staying with it. The Wolfpack trailed by 14 at the break and looked out of sync offensively for much of the first half and overwhelmed by the Tigers' size and athleticism. But NC State ramped up its defense in the second half, limiting the Tigers to just 29 percent shooting, and systematically chipped into the lead.

  • Anthony "Cat" Barber, who NC State coach Mark Gottfried said has been the difference in the Wolfpack's late-season surge, again played catalyst. He finished with 17 points, 11 in the second half.

  • The Wolfpack will pose some problems for Villanova in their second-round game on Saturday. They've got more size inside and have good shooters to match the Wildcats' offensive firepower. But NC State can ill afford another slow start because unlike LSU, Villanova won't fall apart.