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CJ Leslie, NC State’s defense cost No. 18 NC State in upset by Wake Forest

First things first: No. 18 NC State should be ashamed of the fact that they gave up 86 points to Wake Forest.

I’m going to come back to that, I promise.

But I have bigger fish to fry first.

CJ Leslie.

In the Wolfpack’s 86-84 loss to Wake Forest, the most talented player on the NC State roster took just nine shots from the floor. He finished with 13 points and five boards despite the fact that his team quite clearly needed someone to end the Wake Forest run that turned a 14 point NC State lead into a 10 point deficit in the final four minutes.

That didn’t happen. But what did happen down the stretch was that Leslie tried to take over. He got fouled on back-to-back possessions in the final 1:30. The first time, with NC State down 83-81, he hit just 1-2 from the line. On the next possession, Leslie missed both free throws with just 29 seconds left on the clock. After Wake Forest made a free throw at the other end, Leslie missed a pair of shots around the rim, and instead of fouling with around six or seven seconds left, Leslie argued with the ref about a no-call. Wake Forest ended up going to the line with 3.5 seconds left and made both free throws.

Leslie had a dunk with 0.7 seconds left for the final Wolfpack bucket.

Fitting, I’d say.

But back to my original point, NC State’s never going to amount to anything beyond a tantalizingly disappointing squad this season if they cannot figure out a way to defend. The Wolfpack were already 141st in the country in defensive efficiency, and that’s before they allowed Wake Forest to score roughly 1.15 PPP on Tuesday.

I don’t care how many McDonald’s all-americans are on your roster, if those Burger Boys don’t know how to defend, they aren’t going to win many games. NC State doesn’t know how to defend. That’s why they’ve now lost two road games in the ACC after beating Duke.

And you wonder why so many people were hesitant to buy-in.

How about this for a stat: NC State has now been involved in three straight court storms. After they beat Duke, and after they lost to Maryland and Wake Forest.

They probably didn’t deserve the latter two.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.