Quick hits and notes from NC State's 72-70 win over Miami in front of 15,222 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Sunday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State led from the start until 1:04 left in the game when Miami sophomore guard Durand Scott scored on a layup to give the Canes' its first least of the contest at 70-69. NC State did not fold however. Freshman guard Ryan Harrow missed on a drive to the basket, but senior center Tracy Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and scored the eventual game-winner on a put back with 43.9 seconds left.
Highlight of the game
NC State led 34-30 as time was winding down in the first half. The Pack was holding for the last shot, and a three-pointer from Harrow was off the mark. Junior wing C.J. Williams ran down the long rebound and turned a launched a quick, long three-pointer just before the horn sounded. The shot was good, and NC State led 37-30 at the break.
Player of the game
Sophomore power forward Richard Howell got just his fourth start of the season because freshman forward C.J. Leslie was sick. Howell made the most of his start. He connected on 8 of 11 shots and finished with a career-high 17 points and added five rebounds in a season-high 27 minutes of action. Howell has now scored in double figures in six of State's last 10 games. During that stretch he is averaging 9.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest.
Had Miami pulled out the victory, the honors would have gone to Hurricanes redshirt junior guard Malcolm Grant, who torched the Pack for a game-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and a perfect 5 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Pack holds on
For the first time since over four minutes left against Boston College Jan. 11, NC State had a lead in a game. Sophomore wing Scott Wood hit a three-pointer on State's first possession to give the Pack a 3-0 lead with 19:33 on the clock, ending a span of over 84 minutes where the Pack did not have a lead. They trailed from start to finish in losses to Florida State and Duke.
NC State jumped out to a 12-2 lead, withstood a Miami run to lead 37-30 at halftime and stretch the margin out to 17 at 55-38 after a three-point play from freshman guard Lorenzo Brown with 12:33 left to go in the game.
The Pack won behind good performances from several players, including Howell. Brown came off the bench for the first time since Dec. 4 at Syracuse and scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists in 22 minutes. Brown had scored in double-digits just once in the last eight games coming into the Miami contest and was scoreless in 22 minutes against Duke.
Smith had 16 points and seven rebounds. Harrow got his second career start and while he struggled shooting, 2 of 10 for five points, he had a game-high seven assists with just two turnovers and matched his career-high three steals in 34 minutes. Harrow's steal of Scott with 36 seconds left in the game helped seal the win.
Defending guards seems to be a problem
There is a trend developing in ACC action that will need to be corrected. Guards have been having big performances against the Pack:
- Against Wake Forest, the starting backcourt of Gary Clark and C.J. Harris combined to shoot 9 of 17 and score 25 points.
- Boston College's Reggie Jackson torched the Pack for 29 points and added six assists.
- Duke's Nolan Smith scored 22 points and had six assists.
- Grant for Miami had 23 points.
The good news for the Pack is that their next two games, at Clemson Tuesday night and at UNC Saturday, does not feature opponents with dynamic backcourts, although Clemson's senior guard Demontez Stitt has a lot of experience.
Spotted at the game
Sunday was the 100-year of Wolfpack basketball celebration, and a host of former players, managers and coaches were in attendance. They were honored at halftime on the court while fans watched a video tribute to NC State basketball on the scoreboard. The Wolfpacker has a list of attendees and will be posting them on the site.
Also at the game was a pair of top Class of 2012 targets, forward T.J. Warren and guard Torian Graham, both Durham, N.C., natives playing at Word of God Academy in Raleigh.
What the win means
There is no denying this was a significant win for NC State's season and hopes of postseason play. The Pack snapped a three-game losing streak and improves to 12-7 overall and 2-3 in the ACC while Miami dropped to 12-7 and 1-4 in conference action.
NC State is in a huge logjam in the middle of the ACC. Clemson, Maryland, NC State, Virginia and Georgia Tech are all tied for sixth in the conference at 2-3. Miami is now alone in 11th place at 1-4, ahead of just 0-5 Wake Forest. The Hurricanes host a well-rested North Carolina team Wednesday night.
NC State now leads the overall series against Miami 7-4 and is 5-0 in games played in Raleigh, including 4-0 at the RBC Center. The last three games in the RBC Center have been nail-biters. The previous two wins were overtime victories.
Other stats of note
- For just the sixth times this year and the second game in a row NC State had a positive turnover margin (11 to 8), but Miami had a 14-11 edge in points off turnovers.
- Miami outrebounded NC State 35-31 overall and 10-9 on the offensive glass despite shooting better than the Pack (47.5 percent to 45.0 percent). State though had a slight 11-10 advantage in second-chance points.
- Miami, led by sophomore center Reggie Johnson's 20 points, had a 36-30 edge in points in the paint.
- Miami had a 17-15 advantage in fast break points while NC State had a similar edge in bench production.