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‘Torched’ by Syracuse’s Chris Bell, Wolfpack could focus on another 3-point threat

In preparing the game plan for Boston College, N.C. State likely has one name prominent on the scouting report: Mason Madsen.

The senior guard is averaging eight points a game for the season. But he also has 39 points in BC’s last two games. More importantly, he has knocked in 11 of 20 shots from 3-point distance and is shooting 46% on 3’s for the season.

The Wolfpack lost its last game to Syracuse, in large part, by giving up 55 points in the first half. It gave up 55 points and lost the game, in large part, because it could not stop the Orange’s Chris Bell in that first half, Bell drilling eight consecutive 3-pointers before finally missing.

“Obviously you can look at the second half and we played a great basketball half,” NCSU coach Kevin Keatts said Tuesday after the 87-83 loss. “But we should never put ourselves in that situation where we start the game, and we don’t understand scouting reports, and we give up eight 3’s to one guy and we have to go into halftime down 15.”

Bell had gone 8-for-10 on 3-pointers and scored 30 points in Syracuse’s Feb. 7 win over Louisville. That’s enough to draw added attention in any team’s scouting report.

But Bell was 5-of-14 on 3’s in his two games before Tuesday. He made 3-of-6 against the Pack in the first game this season, a 77-65 Orange win.

A video review of Bell’s 3-point shooting -- a barrage widely discussed the past few days on sports radio, podcasts and social media -- reveals that not all of his shots were uncontested or open.

The Pack’s D.J. Horne was matched up with Bell on the first three and slacked off inside a little on Bell’s first and third makes, then tried to close. The second was contested but Bell made it.

With Michael O’Connell on him, Bell made the fourth with the Pack guard closing hard on him and contesting. Again, a good shot by Bell from the left side.

“He hit his first couple and the basket just got big,” State’s Jayden Taylor said.

Taylor was matched with Bell on the fifth and was partially screened as Bell took the shot from the top of the key. With the Pack pressuring defensively near midcourt, Bell then had an open look from the right corner for his sixth as State’s D.J. Burns found himself in the position of trying to guard two players.

Bell’s seventh 3 came against Taylor, Bell faking and taking a quick dribble to his right to get off the shot. His eighth came when State’s Breon Pass was caught trying to help inside and left him too open.

Bell did not score in the second half, the sophomore missing his two shots and his only 3. But the damage had been done by halftime.

“I reshowed them the scouting report,” Keatts said. “I mean Bell, he doesn’t dribble. I haven’t seen Bell dribble all year long. We had no sense of urgency to get to the shooter and when you don’t … He had a night.”

Or as Taylor put it, “He torched us that half.”

Boston College’s Madsen played just five minutes and did not score against the Wolfpack when the two faced off Dec. 2 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Pack won 84-78 in overtime as Horne had 21 points and Taylor 18.

The Eagles got 20 points from guard Jaeden Zackery and 18 from big man Quinten Post in the ACC opener.

But that seems like eons ago. The Pack is 16-10 overall and 8-7 in the ACC and the Eagles 15-11 and 6-9 after losing their last game, 84-76 at Florida State.

Horne had 32 points against Syracuse and has a string of six games with 24 or more points. He will be the Eagles’ chief target defensively --or else.

Madsen has gone from hardly playing to a player who can hardly be overlooked after his 25-point outing in BC’s 85-77 win over Miami. Post is a 3-point threat (44.3% for the season) and junior guard Claudell Harris Jr. (38.3%) can be streaky.

Come Saturday at PNC Arena, they will have the Pack’s attention.