Quick hits and notes from NC State's 74-61 loss to North Carolina in front of a less than full Dean Smith Center with 19,786 fans Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State was trailing 56-52 with 5:30 left in the game and had the ball. On its previous two plays, junior point guard Javier Gonzalez had effectively penetrated into the lane and dished to freshman forward Richard Howell for lay-ups. On this possession though the offense stalled out and Gonzalez was forced to take a tough jumper. The rebound went out of bounds to UNC.
The Heels responded with a drive from sophomore point guard Larry Drew II, who dished to an open freshman forward John Henson under the basket for a lay-up. NC State sophomore wing C.J. Williams tried to recover for State, but he was too late and fouled Henson instead. Henson made a rare free throw, giving UNC a 59-52 lead with 5:17 left. The Pack would never get closer again.
Player of the game
In a game devoid of All-ACC talent, NC State junior forward Tracy Smith stood out. He finished with a game-high 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting and an 8 for 9 effort at the line. Smith also added five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot in 31 minutes. This was the 11th time this season that Smith had scored at least 20 points in a game.
After Saturday's game, Smith is averaging 17.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He leads the ACC in field goal percentage shooting at 54.9 percent, and he is tied for fourth in the league in rebounding and is sixth in the conference in scoring.
UNC has the Pack's number
Carolina head coach Roy Williams is now 19-1 in his career against NC State, including games he coached at Kansas. What may be most disappointing to Pack fans is that in a year where UNC is just 3-8 in the ACC, two of their wins have come against NC State, and this win came despite UNC missing their second and third leading scorers. The Heels have won eight straight games against the Pack.
Drew likes playing against the Pack
Drew has had an up and down, uneven season in his first year as the starter at point guard, but he seems to have great success against NC State. Drew was arguably the difference maker the first time these two teams played when he scored 18 points, matching a career-high, and added seven assists with just one turnover. That was one of just three times this year that Drew had only one turnover.
This time around Drew scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, making 2 of 3 three-pointers, and added seven assists with just two turnovers. In two games against NC State, Drew averaged 16.5 points, 7 assists and 1.5 turnovers. His season averages are 9.1 points, 6.1 assists and 3.1 turnovers.
Memorable day for UNC basketball
The Heels were having their 100-year basketball reunion banquet and reception after the NC State contest. Well over 100 former letterwinners returned for the reunion, and all of them were honored on the court at halftime in a celebration that took so long the teams had to go through halftime warm-ups around the players filing off the court. Former coaches Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge were also there.
Anything positive for NC State?
That's the question most NC State fans were asking after the game. NC State shot better than they had in recent ACC games, but it was still just 41.1 percent from the field (23 of 56). The Pack shot just 5 of 18 three-pointers and 10 of 17 free throws.
Several players continue to slump. Freshman wing Scott Wood made just 2 of 10 shots, 1 of 7 on threes, and just 2 of 5 free throws. Since the Duke win, Wood has made 12 of 55 shots for 21.8 percent, and 10 of 38 on three pointers for 26.3 percent.
Sophomore guard Julius Mays misfired on both his shot attempts, and he went scoreless for the third time in four games. Mays matched a season-low with nine minutes of playing time. He is just 1 for 19 from the field in his last three games and has made just 1 of 21 three-pointers since the Holy Cross game Jan. 6.
Fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand fouled out in just 16 minutes. It was the second time this year Degand had fouled out in a contest. He had just two points and two assists, making 1 of 2 shots. In his last six contests Degand is averaging just 3.8 points a game.
Senior forward Dennis Horner and Howell continue to take turns producing solid outings. Horner had averaged 13.5 points and 10 rebounds in his last two contests, but he had just two points and one rebound in 24 minutes this time. Howell came off the bench to add eight points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.
Gonzalez had 13 points and six assists, but he also had a game high six turnovers, half of the Pack's total turnovers as a team.
There's C.J. Williams
Williams had fallen out of favor in the rotation. He did not play because of a coach's decision at Georgia Tech Feb. 6 and was the last player off the bench in the blowout loss to Virginia Tech Wednesday night, playing just two minutes. Williams though played 22 minutes against UNC off the bench and had five points, four rebounds and two assists. Williams had scored just two points against Maryland in his last six ACC games. The 22 minutes were the most he has seen in a league game since playing 25 against Virginia in what was his last start this year.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 14-12 on the season and 2-9 in ACC action. NC State is now assured of a losing conference record for the fourth straight year. UNC improves to 14-11 overall and 3-7 in the ACC. The Heels are tied with Boston College for ninth, a half game ahead of Miami at 3-8. The Hurricanes are one game ahead of NC State for last.
UNC leads the overall series with NC State 142-75 and is 18-5 in the last 23 games. The Heels have a decisive advantage of 69-22 in games played in Chapel Hill. NC State has not won there since 2003.
Other stats of note
- UNC dominated on the boards despite missing three of their big men to injuries. Carolina had a 44-32 rebounding advantage, 17-10 on the offensive glass, and 17-7 on second chance points.
- Both teams scored 32 points in the paint.
- Neither team turned it over much. NC State had 12 while UNC had 10. Both teams had 10 points off turnovers.
- NC State did not get a single fast break points while UNC had 10.