GREENSBORO — Quick hits and notes from NC State's 81-71 loss to Miami in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament Saturday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Play of the game
NC State was trying to crawl their way back into the game and had cut what had been at one-point a 39-20 Miami first half lead to 50-44 with 12:03 to go after a three-pointer from senior wing Scott Wood.
The veteran Canes though are a tough team to make a big rally against. With five seniors, four of whom have at least five years under their belt, they do not panic when other teams make a run against them.
Case in point is when senior guard Durand Scott came out of the under-12 official timeout and made a big three-pointer at the top of the key to put the Canes back up 53-44 with 11:12 to go. State would not get closer than eight the rest of the game.
Highlight of the game
Wood woke up the NC State faithful after Miami had built a 39-20 lead by nailing his first three-pointer of the game despite being fouled by Scott. His four-point play came with 1:02 to go in the first half and ignited a spirited finish before the break for the Wolfpack.
Player of the game
In an ACC Tournament that has featured a host of heroic individual performances, the Pack was a victim of one Saturday afternoon. Scott made 12 of 18 shots, including 5 of 8 three-pointers, for a career-high 32 points.
This was the first time in Scott's career he broke the 30-point barrier. His previous career-high had been 29 points during his freshman year at North Carolina. His season high thus far this season had been 25 against Duke Jan. 23.
Scott's five-made three-pointers is also a new career-high, besting the four he has made twice in his career, most recently against Hawaii Dec. 22.
The backcourt was too much
Scott's 32 points alone is impressive. Then you add in sophomore point guard Shane Larkin's 23 points, four assists and three steals and you begin to figure out why NC State lost by 10 points Saturday.
The two Miami guards shined especially when you considered NCSU junior guard Lorenzo Brown struggled. He misfired on all six of his shot attempts and had a game-high five turnovers, although he also led all players with eight assists and four steals.
Larkin and Scott combined to have 30 of Miami's 41 first half points, which proved to be the decisive 20 minutes of the game. In fact, the backcourt outscored NCSU's entire team by a point at the break.
The Pack in hindsight was probably fortunate to be only down 12 at the break. The Canes shot 51.7 percent from the field compared to 40.9 percent for NCSU. State also made just 8 of 16 free throws in the first half and had seven turnovers. It took NCSU 5:25 just to score a point.
Tough matchup overall
For the first time in the ACC Tournament, NC State was outrebounded. They lost the overall boards 37-27, but what hurt especially was second chances. Miami had a 14-8 edge in offensive rebounding and outscored the Pack 18-8 in second-chance points.
While the backcourt for Miami was explosive, their tall, physical frontcourt held NCSU first-team All-ACC center Richard Howell to eight points and 11 rebounds, and although junior forward C.J. Leslie had 14 points, he made just 5 of 13 shots and had only two rebounds with no blocked shots.
Those are just a couple of the reasons why NC State had just its fourth double-digit loss of the season.
More milestones for Wood
The only NC State player who did play well offensively was Wood, who made 6 of 10 three-pointers and finished with a team-high 21 points. Wood concluded the ACC Tournament making 16 of 27 three-pointers.
Wood's 332 career three-pointers moved him past former Wake Forest guard Randolph Childress into fifth place all-time in ACC history for career made threes. Wood would need 10 more to reach former Duke guard Trajan Langdon for fourth most.
Unfortunately for Wood, he will have no more games in a Wolfpack uniform in the Greensboro Coliseum. In his career at the venue, Wood made 34 of 62 three-pointers in nine games in the arena. The Pack went 6-3 in those contests.
What the loss means
NC State, who will learn their NCAA Tournament fate Sunday evening, is 24-10 and went 13-8 against ACC teams this season. Miami improved to 26-6, including 17-3 versus league foes, and will face North Carolina in the ACC Tournament finals. Miami swept UNC during the regular season.
The Pack continues to lead the all-time series against Miami, but after the Canes took both games this year versus State, the series now stands at 9-6.
In a dubious note, NC State has reached double-digit losses for the 24th consecutive season. The last time they did not was during a 22-9 campaign in 1988-89.
NCSU failed to make its first ACC title game appearance since the Cinderella run in the 2007 tourney. State's overall record in the ACC Tournament fell to 66-50 all-time. They are 7-7 when playing as a five seed. State is winless in two tournament contests against Miami.
Other stats of note
- Miami won the turnover margin 14-11 and had a 15-9 edge in points off turnovers.
- Both teams had 32 points in the paint.
- NCSU held a slim 6-4 advantage in fast break points.
- State's bench outscored Miami's reserves 9-5.