Quick hits and notes from NC State's 58-52 win over Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in front of a listed attendance of 23,318 at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum Friday night.
Play of the game
NC State's offense had stalled in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Pack went almost nine minutes without a field goal after freshman forward Richard Howell scored on a post move to put NC State up 50-43 with 10:54 left in the game. FSU however was not taking advantage, and NC State still led 52-48 when the Noles called a full timeout with 2:19 left. That's when Wolfpack junior point guard Javier Gonzalez made the play of the game.
Six seconds after the timeout, he stole FSU junior guard Derwin Kitchen's pass, and then on the other end of the court Gonzalez made a nifty assist to junior forward Tracy Smith for a strong two-handed dunk, giving the Pack a 54-48 advantage with 1:58 left in the game and ending NC State's long field goal drought. Smith would make another huge shot with 57.9 seconds left to effectively ice the game at 56-50.
Player of the game
FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton is going to have nightmares about NC State freshman wing Scott Wood this offseason. In January, Wood torched the Noles for a career-high 31 points and made 7 of 11 three-pointers. Friday night, Wood shot 6 of 10 from the field, all three-pointers, and finished with a game-high 18 points. Wood has shot 13 of 21 from long range, 61.9 percent, against FSU this year.
It's no surprise that Wood shot well Friday night however. He came into the game shooting 7 of 9 on three-pointers in two previous contests this year at the Greensboro Coliseum. He has now made 13 of 19 threes in the arena, 68.4 percent.
Wood's six three-pointers against the Noles Friday was a new NC State record for three-pointers made in an ACC Tournament game. The previous record had been five set by Ilian Evitmov (twice) in 2005 and Scooter Sherrill in 2003.
Having the Noles' number
Florida State has the stingiest defense to shoot against in the ACC, leading the conference in field goal percentage defense. That has not deterred NC State however. The Pack shot a respectable 44.2 percent from the field Friday, the fourth highest allowed by FSU this year. Ironically State had the second highest effort against the Seminoles this year when they shot 45.3 percent in their 88-81 win Jan. 12.
NC State shot 7 of 15 from three-pointers for 46.7 percent. NC State is now 12-1 this year and 6-0 in ACC games when they shoot at least 40.0 from long range.
Gutsy effort by Gonzalez
While Wood is the player of the game, kudos have to go to Gonzalez, who is battling a hurt foot that he injured in the opening round win over Clemson Thursday night. Gonzalez hobbled to the post game press conference with ice wrapped around his foot, but that came after 30 minutes of playing time in which he had 13 points of 5-of-9 shooting and a game-high six assists with just two turnovers. Gonzalez also had five steals, matching a career high he set last season at Davidson. The five steals tied Wood for the second most in a game by a Wolfpack player this year. Smith had six against Georgia Tech Feb. 6.
Areas for concern?
NC State shot just 13 of 20 from the free throw line Friday night for 65.0 percent. That came one night after they shot 10 of 15 at the line against Clemson. For the ACC Tournament, State is 23 of 35 for 65.7 percent. Course there just may be something to the night games. Clemson shot 10 of 18 while the Noles were just 9 of 17 themselves at the line.
The Pack was also badly outrebounded by the much taller Florida State frontline. FSU had a 42-25 edge on the boards, including 19-6 on the offensive glass. That led to a 14-7 FSU advantage in second-chance points. During the regular season FSU tied UNC for the second-highest rebounding margin in the league.
What the win means
NC State improves to 19-14 overall and are one win away from matching the most victories in a season under head coach Sidney Lowe. The Pack went 20-16 in Lowe's first year in Raleigh. NC State is now 26-18 all-time against FSU.
NC State improved to 21-19 in ACC Tournament games in the Greensboro Coliseum, and they are 14-4 in both regular season and post-season tournaments under Lowe. The win was also State's sixth against top 50 teams in the RPI according to realtimerpi.com, and improved their record to an impressive 6-5 against those teams.
The Pack became the first team in ACC history to advance to the semifinals as an 11 seed. NC State joined seventh-seeded Georgia Tech and 12th seed Miami in the semifinals, making it the first time in league history that three teams seeded in the lower half have reached the semifinals.
In fact, NC State and Miami doubled the number of times a double-digit seed reached the semis. In 2007, NC State reached the finals as a 10-seed, and 12th-seeded Wake Forest reached the semis before losing to top-seeded Duke in 2006. The lower seed has won six of the eight tournament games this year.
The Pack and Yellow Jackets will play approximately 20 minutes following the Duke-Miami semifinal matchup, which tips off at 1:30. Georgia Tech won the only meeting between the two teams this year, 73-71 in Atlanta in a controversial ending when Lowe stormed off the court in disgust when he believed that sophomore guard Julius Mays was fouled in his three-point attempt at the buzzer.
Georgia Tech had a 69-55 lead with 4:07 left in the game, but folded under NC State's full court pressure. The Pack went on a 14-1 run to cut Tech's lead to 70-69 with 2:07 left but never too the lead. Fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand missed that game with a thigh injury, and sophomore wing C.J. Williams did not play due to a coach's decision.
Tech had 20 turnovers in that game, and they committed 25 in their 69-64 win over Maryland Friday evening. NC State forced 20 Florida State turnovers Friday night.
Other stats of note
- FSU had a 26-18 edge in points in the paint.
- The Pack had just one blocked shot, matching their season-low at Virginia Tech Mar. 3.
- FSU had a 9-7 edge in fast break points despite NC State having 10 steals compared to the Noles' nine.
- The Pack's bench had a quiet night after a big game against Clemson. FSU's reserves outscores the Pack's 16-4.
- NC State had a 16-12 edge in points off turnovers.