NC State

Even with big men in foul trouble, Wolfpack have little trouble with Noles in first half

N.C. State's Abdul-Malik Abu (0) pulls in rebound from Florida State's Phil Cofer (0) during the first half of N.C. State's game against Florida State at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.
N.C. State's Abdul-Malik Abu (0) pulls in rebound from Florida State's Phil Cofer (0) during the first half of N.C. State's game against Florida State at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Playing against one of the taller front lines in the ACC, the last thing North Carolina State head coach Kevin Keatts wanted to see was his big men sitting on the bench.

That was the case more than Keatts liked in the first half against Florida State on Sunday. The first half ended with 21 total fouls, and the Wolfpack post trio of Omer Yurtseven, Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman did more watching than playing. State defeated the No. 25 Seminoles 92-72.

Yurtseven only played seven of the opening 20 minutes after picking up two fouls in a three minute span. Freeman played 12, while Abu only played three minutes with two points. Yurtseven was the only player of the three who started.

Abu picked up his first foul at the 14:14 mark, and his second less than two minutes later, joining Yurtseven on the bench, and leaving the 6-8 Freeman to man the post. When Abu returned with 5:31 remaining in the first half to give Freeman a break, the senior from Boston, Mass. didn’t last long. He was whistled for his third foul with less than five minutes remaining in the half.

“Thank god that I’ve got three really good big men who can play,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said. “We were able to rotate all three guys in. It was frustrating to the players, but we found our way through it.”

Yurtseven finished with 13 points in 21 minutes of action. Abu only played one minute in the second half. Freeman played 10 minutes in the second half, but didn’t score.

State didn’t have any trouble with the Seminoles huge front line, which includes 7-4 Christ Koumadje. The Wolfpack never trailed in the first half, led by as many as 20 and were up 48-29 at the break. The two teams shot a combined 25 free throws.

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-6501, @JEPopeIV

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