NASSAU, Bahamas — Allerik Freeman scored 24 points and Braxton Beverly added 20 off the bench and North Carolina State stunned No. 2 Arizona 90-84 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Wednesday night. Complete Box Score
“We give each other confidence,” Freeman, a transfer graduate said. “Our coaches give us confidence. And we believe in the way we play. So when the game starts, we play to win, from start to finish.”
Both teams went into the halftime break locked at 40-40, but the Wolfpack pulled away late to upset the tournament favorite and improved to 5-0 on the season.
“I feel like every game, every day, these guys have given me tremendous effort, and they’re playing hard and they deserved the win,” said first year NC State head coach Kevin Keatts.
Big man Omer Yurtseven finished with 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench, as NC State moved into the semi-finals to face either SMU or Northern Iowa.
Deandre Ayton had 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Allonzo Trier scored 24 of his 27 points in the second half for Arizona (3-1), which shot 2 for 17 from 3-point range.
NC State took a 78-75 lead on a Beverly 3-pointer with 4:19 remaining before using an 11-3 run to build a comfortable cushion en route to victory.
“We had plenty of offense,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “But our defense was really, really bad. Until we get that corrected, we’re going to win a few then we’re going to lose a few.
“The last couple of years, maybe our offense wasn’t quite as far along as this year’s, but our collective will defensively, our togetherness defensively more than made up for it.
“Right now it looks kind of like I’m the new coach trying to teach these guys a system because we were really out of sync.”
Abdul-Malik Abu finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for the Wolfpack, who joined No. 1 Duke, Syracuse and Notre Dame as the ACC teams to have won their opening five games of the season.
Arizona will next face the loser of the Northern Iowa-SMU clash in Thursday’s consolation game.