Quick hits and notes from NC State's stunning 62-61 loss to Florida in overtime in front of 17,207 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., Sunday afternoon.
Play of the game
The only way you would not know is if you did not see the game. NC State led 61-59 with fifth-year senior point guard Farnold Degand at the line with 2.6 seconds left in overtime. Degand missed the second of his two free throws, and the rebound bounced right to Florida junior forward Chandler Parsons, who heaved about a 75-foot shoot from near the RBC logo on NC State's side of the court into the basket as time expired for a stunning game-winning three-pointer.
Player of the game
NC State junior power forward Tracy Smith was probably the best player on the court Saturday. Smith made 9 of 16 shots and had game-highs 21 points and nine boards in the loss.
Honorable mention players of the game
There were plenty of other good candidates for player of the game however. Freshman small forward Scott Wood made 4 of 8 three-pointers and finished with 12 points overall while playing a game-high 42 minutes. Wood has made 14 of 25 three-pointers in his last four games and is averaging 11 points per game during that span.
After struggling for much of the game, junior point guard Javier Gonzalez also came to life for NC State at the end of regulation. Gonzalez had the tap-in of a missed shot by senior forward Dennis Horner with 28 seconds left in the game that forced a 48-48 tie and overtime. Gonzalez then scored five straight points to give the Pack a 53-48 lead to start the extra session. Gonzalez finished with 13 points and six rebounds, although he also had a game-high six turnovers.
Parsons had scored just two points and was 0-of-4 shooting from the field, including missing on trio of three-point attempts, before making his game-winner. Parsons though is capable of big games. He came into the game averaging 11.9 points per game as one of the country's better six men, and in Florida's most recent outing he had a season-high 21 points in a lopsided win over Presbyterian Dec. 30.
Not much charity at the stripe for NC State
The Pack can best blame this loss on one area, free throw shooting. NC State shot just 10 of 19 at the line for 52.6 percent. In addition to Degand's big miss with 2.8 seconds left, Horner missed one of two free throws with 11.2 seconds left. Degand finished just 1 of 5 at the line, and State as a team shot only 6 of 11 in the overtime. Degand missed the front end of a one and one with 38 seconds left and State up 56-52. Gonzalez would make just 1 of 2 with 22 seconds left to give the Pack a 57-52 advantage.
Ironically, Florida, who shot 7 of 10 at the line, tried to miss a free throw by sophomore point guard Erving Walker with 3.3 seconds left, but Walker accidentally banked in the free throw. That make ended up being the difference in the game.
Free throw shooting woes is becoming a problem for this team. They entered the game making just 64.8 percent as a team, which was ninth in the ACC.
Neither team had much to brag about on the offensive side of the court Sunday. Florida shot just 3 of 24 from long range, although they made their last two attempts. For the game Florida shot only 37.7 percent.
NC State was 22-of-55 shooting for 40.0 percent and 7 of 22 from long range, and the offense seemed to stall for much of the game against Florida's zone defense, drawing some boos at times from the impatient RBC Center crowd.
Spotted at the game
NC State signee Ryan Harrow, a point guard from Walton High in Marietta, Ga., was at the game. So to was Word of God in Raleigh teammates Joel Kindred, a senior wing, and C.J. Leslie, a senior forward. Braeden Anderson, a junior power forward at Christian Faith Center in Creedmoor, N.C., was also there.
Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., head coach Kevin Keats was also spotted behind the NC State bench. Also at the game were former Wolfpack players Jeremy Hyatt and Damon Thornton. NC State linebackers coach Andy McCollum was also at the game.
What the loss means
NC State is now 10-4 on the season heading into Wednesday night's showdown with Holy Cross while Florida improved to 11-3. Two of NC State's losses have now come at the buzzer, with Arizona tripping up the Pack 76-74 in Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 23. Florida won both games of the home and home they scheduled with NC State, and the Pack now has a 6-4 lead in the all-time series with the Gators. Florida has won the last three games in the series, including 68-66 last season in Gainesville, and is 2-2 in games played in Raleigh.
The Pack falls to 5-2 at home this season, 4-2 at the RBC Center. This was the first overtime game of the year for State, and also the first time the Pack lost when they were leading at halftime. State held a slight 29-27 lead at the break. State also lost for the first time when they shot better than their opponent.
Other stats of note
• Florida held a decisive 34-24 advantage in the paint. They also had a 12-6 edge in second chance points. Although the overall battle on the boards was even at 41-41, Florida had a 15-11 edge in offensive rebounding.
• NC State had 14 turnovers compared to nine for Florida, and the Gators took advantage, holding a 13-6 edge in points off turnovers.
• State had a 17-8 advantage in fast break points.
• Florida's reserves outscored NC State's 11-8.
• Florida had 12 steals, tying Akron for the most by a Wolfpack opponent this year.