Quick hits and notes from NC State's 72-72 loss at UAB in front of 4,096 fans at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala., in the second round of the NIT Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State tried to come out strong and commence a rally in the second half, but UAB would have none of it, and no play exemplified the Blazers' dominance better than UAB senior forward Elijah Millsap's highlight-worthy alley-oop dunk with 11:41 left in the contest to give the Blazers a 47-27 lead.
Player of the game
Millsap had a fairly quiet first half as UAB used a balanced attack to seize a 37-17 halftime lead. He had just five points, but as the Blazers started the second half cold, Millsap asserted himself. He finished with game-highs 27 points and 15 rebounds, making 11 of 15 shots in the process.
UAB scored the first six points of the game and never looked back. The Blazers went on a 18-3 run after the first official timeout, turning an 8-4 UAB lead to a 26-7 advantage with 8:00 left in the half when head coach Sidney Lowe called a 30-second timeout.
UAB made 14 of 24 first half shots for 58.3 percent, while NC State made just 6 of 25 shots for 24.0 percent. Those represented the highest field goal percentage allowed by NC State and worst shooting performance in any first half this year for State. The 17 points were also the fewest in a half this year by the Wolfpack.
NC State finished the game shooting 19 of 53 for 35.8 percent. That matched the second fewest field goals made in a game this year for NC State this year, one behind the 18 they converted in a loss at Virginia Feb. 3.
The 20-point loss matched a home court loss to Virginia Tech Feb. 10 for the second largest defeat of the year. The Pack lost by 24 at Maryland Jan. 23.
Big numbers for Horner
Senior forward Dennis Horner scored a career-high in the first round win at South Florida Tuesday night with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting and added six rebounds.
Horner quietly had another big game against UAB. He made 7 of 12 shots for 23 points, matching what was his previous career-high, to go with eight rebounds. He was the only Wolfpack performer to reach double figures in scoring however. That is just the second time this year that State had just one double-digit scorer in a game, the other when junior post player Tracy Smith scored 19 in the Pack's 59-57 first-round win over Clemson in the ACC Tournament.
Difference in wins and losses
There are some noticeable differences in NC State's performance in wins and losses, most noticeably from a shooting standpoint. In its 20 wins, NC State averaged shooting 49.4 percent in the game, while in its 16 losses the Pack shot on average 36.4 percent.
From three-point range, the Pack made an average of 40.5 percent in victories, just 25.6 percent in defeats. NC State made 3 of 11 three-pointers against UAB for 27.3 percent.
What the loss means
NC State's season is over at 20-16, matching the record NC State had in Lowe's first season in Raleigh. UAB continues their year with a 25-8 mark and will host UNC in the quarterfinals of the NIT. The winner will win a trip to Madison Square Garden for the final four of the NIT. Had NC State defeated UAB, they would have played UNC, most likely at Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill, in the NIT quarterfinals.
The Pack's record in 11 NIT appearances now stands at 16-13, and they are 2-2 in road games. Saturday was the first time that NC State and UAB had ever met in the NIT. UAB is in Conference USA, and State's record under Lowe against that league is now 2-2, with the other three contests being against ECU.
Other stats of note
- UAB outscored NC State 40-26 in the paint.
- NC State had 13 turnovers compared to 11 for UAB, and the Blazers turned that into a 22-13 edge in points off giveaways.
- UAB outrebounded NC State 38-33, but State had a 10-8 edge on the offensive glass and 10-7 advantage in second chance points.
- Both teams had eight steals, but UAB had the only points in transition, recording six fast break points.
- The Pack's bench outscored UAB's 14-11.