Quick hits and notes from NC State's 71-66 win at Miami in front of a sparse crowd of 4,358 fans at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla., Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
Miami led 54-53 with 5:33 left when Miami senior center Dwayne Collins fouled NC State junior point guard Javier Gonzalez, who made the first of two free throw shots to tie the game. Gonzalez missed his second attempt, but NC State sophomore wing C.J. Williams grabbed the offensive rebound, and Gonzalez made it worth three pointers when he nailed a long-range jumper to give State a 57-54 lead with 5:07 remaining in the game. That represented the Pack's first lead since 22-21 with 5:17 left in the first half.
Player of the game
Gonzalez and junior post player Tracy Smith share the honors for this game. Smith made 9 of 17 shots and finished with 19 points and seven boards and got the upper hand of Miami's Collins in a physical matchup. Gonzalez matched his career-high with 19 points to go with a pair of assists and just one turnover in 33 minutes of action. Gonzalez must like playing at Miami. Two of his three 19-point performances have come at the BankUnited Center.
It's no secret that NC State has struggled shooting this year. What has been an interesting stat is that there seems to be a direct correlation to how well NC State shoots from three-point territory and how they perform in games. The Pack made 4 of 7 threes against Miami for 57.1 percent. When NC State has shot at least 40 percent on three-pointers this year, the Pack is 10-1 and 4-0 in ACC play. The one loss came at the buzzer at Arizona. When they have shot less than 40 percent, State is just 6-12, 0-10 in conference action.
Pack shoots well
For the first time since shooting 60.0 percent against overmatched North Carolina Central Jan. 30 at the RBC Center, the Pack made at least half their field goal attempts. State shot 24 of 47 from the field for 51.1 percent. That is only the second time in ACC action that the Pack made at least half their shots, the other being a win over Duke Jan. 20 when State made 58.3 percent of their attempts in the upset victory.
NC State had just 10 turnovers, their fewest since committing seven in a loss at Virginia Feb. 3. The only real negative offensively was some poor shooting at the free throw line. State made 19 of 31 for 61.2 percent, thanks in large part to a 1 for 7 effort by Smith. Smith had been on a roll lately at the line. In his last five games prior to the Miami contest, he had made 26 of 31 attempts for 83.9 percent, including 10 of 10 in the last two games.
Is this the Williams everyone expected?
It remains to be seen if Williams has turned a corner in his development, but Williams has played good games in his last two contests. He scored 12 points in the win over Wake Forest, and against Miami he provided steady play while scoring seven points, grabbing six boards, dishing out two assists while defensively contributing two blocks and a steal in 27 minutes. That is the most playing time Williams has seen in a game since playing 29 minutes against Elon Dec. 17.
Most of that playing time came at the expense of freshman wing Scott Wood, who scored five points in 20 minutes. That was the fewest minutes of playing time that Wood has seen in a game this season.
Miami's promising future perimeter play
The Canes came up short, but there is reason to be exited if you are a Hurricanes fan as they have three young perimeter players that could lay a solid foundation for the future. Freshman guard Durand Scott struggled with his shot Saturday, making 4 of 14, but he finished with 13 points, five assists with four turnovers and three steals in 37 minutes.
With his five assists Saturday, Scott became just the second freshman in Miami history and fifth player overall to accumulate at least 100 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in one season. The other Miami rookie to do it was Bryan Hughes during the 1985-86 season. Scott has scored in double figures 12 times this year. He has also had at least four assists in 13 games.
Freshman wing Garrius Adams from Apex was a one-time Wolfpack recruiting target. He showed Wolfpack fans why the State coaching staff was high on him when he nailed a trio of second half three-pointers, a new career-high for threes in a game, to finish with nine points.
Sophomore guard and Villanova transfer Malcolm Grant had five points and four assists with just two turnovers and should be able to assume a larger role next year when James Dews is gone. Grant has had at least four assists in 17 games this year and had been averaging 9.6 points a game headed into the NC State contest.
What this win means
NC State improved to 16-13 overall and 4-10 in the ACC. The win means that NC State is assured of no worse than a .500 overall record this year since there are just two regular season games and a minimum one ACC Tournament contest remaining. Miami fell to 18-10 overall and also 4-10 in the ACC. By virtue of UNC's upset win over Wake Forest Saturday afternoon, UNC, Miami and NC State are tied at 4-10 in the conference.
If the regular season were to end today, UNC would be seeded 10th while State would be the 11 seed and Miami 12. However, Miami and UNC play each other in the Dean Smith Center Tuesday night.
NC State now leads the overall series with Miami 6-4 and improved to 2-3 in games played in Coral Gables. All but one of the matchups have been played since Miami joined the ACC, with NC State winning a 1940 showdown 46-35 in the other game.
NC State has now won two straight games for the first time since Dec. 31 when they knocked off Winthrop and UNC Greensboro in back-to-back contests. The last time State won back-to-back league games was Feb. 14 last year when the defeated Georgia Tech three days after upsetting Wake Forest.
Other stats of note
- NC State had a slight edge in points in the paint, 30-28.
- Despite committing four fewer turnovers than Miami, the Hurricanes had a 18-15 advantage in points off turnovers.
- Miami outrebounded NC State 31-29, and both teams had 10 offensive rebounds. Miami had a 15-11 edge in second-chance points.
- NC State had a 7-0 advantage in fast break points.
- The Pack's bench outscored Miami's reserves 15-14.