Kansas was involved in another tough sweet 16 game last against North Carolina State. KU did not have as tough of a time matching up against North Carolina State as they did with Purdue. However, North Carolina State is a much more talented and balanced team. All five starters for North Carolina State average ten points or more.
KU yet again started off slow, with North Carolina State beginning on a 13-3 run. C.J Leslie, the best player for North Carolina State, scored five of the thirteen points. KU stormed back with a balanced attack with points from Jeff Withey, Kevin Young, Travis Releford, and Thomas Robinson. Kansas and North Carolina State for the rest of half were trading baskets and the halftime score was 33-32 in favor of North Carolina State. To begin the second half, KU stormed out to a 44-35 lead with points from Jeff Withey, Thomas Robinson, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, and Tyshawn Taylor – all five starters. KU from that point on controlled the game until the last couple minutes of the game. However, they could not hit a single shot after scoring two points following the three minute marker. KU ended winning the game 60-57 after North Carolina State offense fell apart in the final possession of the game.
KU yet again had a horrible game offensively, shooting 37 percent from the field and going one for twelve from the three point line. However, KU had their best defensive performance of the tournament thus far. Jeff Withey had a career high 10 blocks and Thomas Robinson was dominant when getting rebounds finishing up the 15. Also, Tyshawn Taylor finished the game up with a surprising 10 rebounds. KU defense frustrated North Carolina State the whole night. North Carolina State only shot 28 percent from the field. Thomas Robinson yet again showed he was the best player on the floor finishing with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Thomas Robinson played with a Dennis Rodman mentality last night and will need to continue with mind-tricks for KU to win in the future.
On Sunday, KU will face its toughest test so far in the tournament in North Carolina. North Carolina could be missing its most important player, Kendall Marshall, to a broken hand. If Kendall Marshall does not play or plays ineffectively, KU will win the game. North Carolina has a history of losing without having its point guard playing well. They lost when Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson were hurt and have also lost to lesser opponents. Last season, North Carolina was horrible until they put Kendall Marshall into the starting line up. The key for KU this game is their ability to pressure the point guard into making mistakes. Also, KU will be able to match up against the impressive front line of North Carolina which includes three future possible lottery picks – Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and James Michael McAdoo. KU will also need to rebound the ball effectively because North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the nation, averaging 45 rebounds per game. The game will come down to whether Kendall Marshall plays for North Carolina. If he plays and does it well, North Carolina will be going to the final four.