Miami stops State's tournament run
N.C. State (24-10, 11-7) fell 81-71 in the ACC Tournament semifinals to Miami (26-6, 15-3) in a game that didn’t seem as close as the final score.
It took N.C. State 5:25 to score its first basket, and the Wolfpack would score just 18 points in the first 16:28 of the game. Eleven of N.C. State’s 29 first-half points came in the final 3:32.
Miami led 39-20 at the 1:18 mark of the first half but N.C. State closed the half on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 12 at the break.
N.C. State tried to keep cutting into the lead but Miami had an answer seemingly every time. N.C. State got the deficit to eight points late in the game, at the 1:28 mark, but would get no closer.
N.C. State shot 57 percent in the second half, but the Wolfpack couldn’t quite get the game close.
“We got the ball around the rim, we were better, we were just in too big of a hole and they were pretty good as far as holding us off,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said. While N.C. State’s offense struggled for stretches, a bigger issue was the defense, especially on Miami’s Durand Scott. The senior guard had a career-high 32 points and got into the lane seemingly at will. Point guard Shane Larkin, the runner-up for ACC Player of the Year, added 23 points. The rest of Miami combined for 26 points on 7-of-24 shooting.
N.C. State’s Scott Wood spent most of his time guarding Scott early, just a night after shutting down Virginia’s Joe Harris. It didn’t go as well this time. “
I think at the start, I didn’t do a good enough job of pressuring him,” Wood, who had a team-high 21 points, said. “We let him get into his comfort zone and after a couple of shots go down, (he’s) tough to guard.”
The Wolfpack couldn’t get its customary fastbreak going. Point guard Lorenzo Brown played very well throughout the tournament, but he finished the game with six points on 0-of-6 shooting (6-of-9 from the foul line). He had eight assists, but five turnovers. He had three turnovers in the first two games of the tournament combined.
C.J. Leslie (14 points) and T.J. Warren (13 points) were the only other N.C. State players in double figures. All-ACC First Teamer Richard Howell suffered a thigh bruise against Virginia, and while he played 32 minutes on Saturday, he wasn’t as effective as he normally is. He finished with eight points and 11 rebounds. For Miami, the only other player in double figures besides Scott and Larkin was Julian Gamble who had 10 points.
Last year, N.C. State went into Selection Sunday nervous about whether or not it would be chosen. There will be no such nerves this year, but there’s not a feeling of exceeding ACC Tournament expectations as there was last year. Gottfried isn’t ready to give up on this team’s potential, though.
“I think we have a lot of basketball left. I think we have great basketball in front of us. I think we’re an awfully good basketball team,” Gottfried said.
“We’ll go home," he said, "we’ll take a day and get some rest, and hopefully we’ll get selected to play in the NCAA Tournament and if that’s the case we’re going to - I think - play with a lot of energy.”