Wolfpack’s depth pays dividends in bounce back win

Reserves DJ Funderburk and Eric Lockett lead the way as NC State rallies for a 86-80 win against Pittsburgh

NC State's DJ Funderburg prepares to block a shot by Pittsburgh's Jared Wilson-Frame during Saturday's win at PNC Arena (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

RALEIGH (AP) — NC State lost both a starting big man and its point guard. Good thing for the 15th-ranked Wolfpack that their depth is the envy of most teams.

DJ Funderburk scored 12 of his career-high 18 points in the second half, and State beat Pittsburgh 86-80 on Saturday.

Devon Daniels scored 19 points, Eric Lockett added 12 of his season-best 17 points after halftime and Torin Dorn — the only starter to reach double figures — finished with 12 for the Wolfpack (14-2, 2-1 ACC).

“It’s just a testimony to the chip on our shoulder that we play with, how hard we play, and just trying to come together as a brotherhood and trying to figure out what we’re doing wrong and just come down and get the win at the end of the game,” Funderburk said.

They bounced back from a tough loss to rival North Carolina and won their eighth in nine games despite losing two starters in the first half after big man Wyatt Walker was ejected and point guard Markell Johnson was injured. State averages 35.9 points from its bench players, and they combined to score 54 in this one.

“No matter the situation, we’ll find somebody who will step up and play well in the game,” coach Kevin Keatts said.

Freshman Xavier Johnson had 20 of his season-high 25 points in the second half, Au’Diese Toney scored 17 and Terrell Brown added 10 for the Panthers (11-5, 1-2), who led by four points with less than 6½ minutes remaining but couldn’t finish off a second straight conference victory.

Lockett hit two of the four 3-pointers and scored eight points during the Wolfpack’s game-breaking 16-4 run, which C.J. Bryce capped with a jumper that made it 73-65 with just under three minutes left. Pitt didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.


Pitt: The Panthers were coming off their first ACC victory since they upset No. 17 Florida State in February 2017. They were trying for their first winning streak in league play since earlier that month. They’re clearly improved over last year’s team that went 0-18 in the ACC but wound up with their 13th straight road loss in the conference.

“We’re still learning, we’re still growing, we’re still trying to figure out how to win on the road in this league,” first-year Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “We have to minimize all those mistakes, and we have to be really good at the little things.”

N.C. State: The dominating issue for the Wolfpack was how they struggled at both ends without Walker, who was tossed 2 minutes in for grabbing the foot of Pitt’s Johnson to bring him down. They also were missing Markell Johnson, who took a hard fall while trying to block a shot and didn’t play in the second half. N.C. State missed 13 consecutive shots in the second half before Funderburk and Lockett carried the team down the stretch.

“I’ve said this before — we’re going to fight,” Keatts said.


Lockett, a graduate transfer from Florida International, didn’t see the court in the 80-72 loss to the Tar Heels. Keatts said he found out Lockett went to the team’s practice facility to work on his shooting immediately after that game. “Nobody played bigger than the guy who didn’t play the last game,” Keatts said.


N.C. State outrebounded Pitt 25-14 in the second half and generated 15 second-chance points to the Panthers’ three. They also had 17 turnovers — their fourth game with at least that many, and they’re 0-4 when that happens. “Offensive rebounds killed us, and we have to value the basketball,” Capel said. “Those two things were the difference in the game.”