Three Points from N.C. State's 82-80 win over UNC-Asheville:
1) All wins are not created equal
A win is a win is a win, except when it isn't. N.C. State finished the game with more points than UNC-Asheville on Friday but it wasn't the better team.
And it certainly wasn't the best team in the ACC, as it was predicted to be before the season started, or even the confident team that rolled Miami (Ohio) in the previous game on its home court.
And after the wake-up call provided by Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico, you certainly would have expected, well, more from N.C. State on Friday.
The players sure did.
"I mean, I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I wasn't expecting to blow them out by 40," senior guard Scott Wood said. "That's how I feel about every team I play."
There was no rout, which is a credit to UNCA and their wings, Jeremy Atkinson (28 points) and Keith Hornsby (23) who were both more aggressive than anyone on N.C. State's roster.
There was a disconnect after the game between the players' version of what had happened on Friday and coach Mark Gottfried's.
Senior forward Richard Howell said the Wolfpack needed to "come out with a lot more firepower."
"We should have come out with the same type of energy we had in the last six minutes of the game," Howell said.
Junior guard Lorenzo Brown (18 points, four assists) went as far as to describe N.C. State as "lazy" in the first half.
"Our whole goal was to come out make a statement after last time, but there were a lot of guys on our team being lethargic," Brown said.
Gottfried, who described his team as too "casual" against Oklahoma State, didn't see Friday's game the same way as the 20-point loss to the Cowboys or the same way the players' saw Friday's win.
Gottfried said his players were "trying too hard early" against the Bulldogs, who entered the game with one win in the first five games.
Here's the transcription of Gottfried's response when asked about the start of the game. It kind of sounds like he's trying to convince himself of a version of the truth.
"Here's the thing about it, it's the beginning of the game," Gottfried said. "Sometimes the expectation would be we're just going to come out and blow them out from the get-go. 'OK, there we go, all the problems are solved!'
"Well, we're playing pretty hard but we're turning the ball over, it's almost like we're trying too hard early.
"I wanted our team to settle down and relax. We're trying too hard right now, and we're tighter than a drum. We were so wound up, you know, and then (UNCA) played pretty good.
"I didn't think we came out, to start the game, casual. I would not pin that on our team. I think we played poorly. That doesn't necessarily equate to being casual."
That might be the first time the same game, and the same players, have been described as both "trying too hard" and "lazy."
2) What's wrong with N.C. State?
You could argue the 19 turnovers were N.C. State's biggest problem on Friday or that its defense was often late to contest perimeter shots, or in general, not particularly effective.
Gottfried took a big-picture approach after the game. The second-year coach made some cryptic comments about team "chemistry."
"We've got to be better," Gottfried said. "We've got to be better defensively and we've got to develop a better chemistry.
"We've got to develop a team spirit that is all about winning, period, nothing else. If we do that, we've got a chance to be a good team. If we don't, then we're just another team out there playing."
Chemistry and confidence are intertwined. N.C. State was a confident team last March, and even last week. Confidence is a function of trust in your own game and your teammates.
N.C. State has not played with confidence, and in turn, has had poor chemistry the past two games. The most basic way to measure "trust" is to look at the team's assists.
N.C. State had 10 assists on 29 field goals on Friday, which was preceded by seven assists against Oklahoma State last Sunday. The two-game total is the lowest in Gottfried's 42-game tenure.
By comparison, N.C. State had 23 assists in the opener against Miami (Ohio) and 21 in last year's win over UNC-Asheville.
3) As Scott Wood goes …
… so goes N.C. State.
The Wolfpack went 20-5 last season when Wood scored in double-figures and is off to a 3-0 start this season when he does.
It was telling, on a team with C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown, that when N.C. State needed a basket late in Friday's game, it went to Wood.
After an intentional foul on UNCA guard Trent Meyer gave N.C. State three points and the ball with 3:06 left in the game, the inbounds play after Richard Howell's free throws was drawn up for Wood, who knocked down a 20-foot 2-pointer from the right elbow.
After Atkinson missed an open 3-pointer from the left corner, N.C. State called a timeout with 1:32 left and a 73-72 lead. The inbounds play was designed for Wood, who came off of a screen by Leslie and dropped in a 3 for the 76-72 advantage.