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N.C. STATE NOTEBOOK: Markell Johnson leaves game Saturday after hard fall

Pittsburgh NC State Basketball-3

North Carolina State's Markell Johnson (11) is helped off the floor after suffering an injury during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Saturday, January 12, 2019

RALEIGH — About 10 minutes into N.C. State’s 86-80 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, Markell Johnson jumped to try and block a shot by the Panthers and landed right on his tailbone.

The junior stayed down in obvious pain for a few minutes, then was helped off the court. He did not return to the game, but was on the bench for the second half.

After, N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said there was no update on Johnson, who entered the game the Wolfpack’s second-leading scorer.

“Every time you see one of your teammates go down, it’s frightening. All these injuries going on nowadays, you don’t know what it could be, so I was definitely nervous,” N.C. State guard Eric Lockett said.

The Wolfpack were also without starting center Wyatt Walker, who was ejected two minutes into the game for pulling on the leg of Pittsburgh guard Xavier Johnson, effectively tripping him.

Keatts added after the game that he had not seen the play involving Walker yet.

Miscellaneous

Jeff Capel, who was the associate head coach at Duke from 2011-18, and filled in on numerous occasions for Mike Krzyzewski when he was ill, was back in the Triangle on Saturday for the first time since taking the coaching job with Pittsburgh this offseason.

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After his 21-point performance off the bench on Tuesday night against North Carolina, Braxton Beverly was back in the starting lineup on Saturday against the Panthers. He took and made the first shot of the game, a 3-pointer, and finished with nine points, four assists and a team-high plus-11.

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The star of the victory for the Wolfpack on Saturday was Eric Lockett, who didn’t play a minute against North Carolina but scored 17 against Pitt while igniting the most important stretch of the game, but Devon Daniels had a bounce-back game as well, scoring a team-high 19 points after scoring only two points against the Tar Heels. DJ Funderburk added 18 points as well, filling in minutes-wise for the ejected Walker.

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After starting the second half 3-of-23 shooting, the Wolfpack scored on their final 12 possessions, boosting their final field goal percentage to 42.3. Before Lockett’s two made 3-pointers with 6:29 left, N.C. State was at 35 percent for the game.

“I just thought we got better looks,” Keatts said.

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