Quick hits and notes from NC State's 60-50 loss to Clemson in front of 9,000 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C., on Tuesday.
Play of the game
Few plays may exhibit how much more Clemson seemed to want the game in the end then the play that gave them it first lead of the game. The Wolfpack was up 48-47 when senior center Tracy Smith turned the ball over with 5:58 left. On the ensuing Clemson possession, the Tigers fed the post to senior post player Jerai Grant who went one-on-one in a physical battle with Smith. Grant powered up for the shot, missed, but got his own offensive rebound and went back up for a layup and was fouled by Smith in the process. Grant made the free throw for a three-point play to give the Tigers a 50-48 lead with 5:41 to go.
Highlight of the game
There were not many SportsCenter moments in this contest. Clemson junior forward Bryan Narcisse had a nice individual play when he stole the ball from Smith on the perimeter and raced down court for a high-flying one-handed dunk with 35 seconds left in the first half to cap a 17-1 run and slice State's lead to 32-29.
Player of the game
Clemson senior guard Demontez Stitt took over the game in the final deciding minutes. With NC State leading 48-43 with 7:59 left in the contest, Stitt scored 11 of Clemson's next 14 points and sparked a 16-0 run for the Tigers that gave the Tigers a 59-48 lead with 2:48 to go. Stitt finished the contest with a game-high 17 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists and a steal and no turnovers in 38 minutes.
Honorable mention goes to Grant, who finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds and added four blocked shots. That was Grant's fifth double-double of the year. Also kudos to Narcisse who provided a noticeable energy spark while scoring nine points, one away from his career high.
What the heck happened?
NC State jumped out to a 31-12 lead after freshman point guard Ryan Harrow scored on a layup with 6:10 left, forcing first-year Clemson head coach Brad Brownell to call a 30-second timeout five seconds later. What happened after that will be remembered in Raleigh.
Clemson went on a 17-0 run before halftime to get back into the game, and then outscored the Pack 31-16 in the second half for a 29-point swing en route to a 60-50 win for the Tigers. Clemson outscored NCSU 48-19 after NC State jumped out to its 31-12 advantage.
The win was the greatest comeback for Clemson in ACC games at 42-year-old Littlejohn Coliseum, topping a 16-point rally against Wake Forest in 1970. Overall, it tied for the third greatest comeback in Clemson's history regardless of opponent and location behind a pair of 20-point rallies.
A complete reversal
When NC State jumped out to a 31-12 lead, the Wolfpack had made 12 of 17 shots for 70.6 percent while Clemson was just 4 of 18, for 22.2 percent. After that, the Tigers made 19 of 36 shots for 52.3 percent while State connected on just 7 of 31 shots for 22.6 percent.
In the second half, NC State made just 6 of 24 shots for 25.0 percent. That represented the third time in six ACC games that NC State has shot under 30 percent in a half. NCSU made just 21.6 percent of its first half shots against Duke in the RBC Center in Raleigh on Jan. 19, and shot 26.7 percent in the first half at Florida State on Jan. 15. The second half at Clemson was the second worst shooting half of the year for NC State behind the second half versus the Blue Devils.
An amazing stat was that NC State had just six offensive rebounds on its 29 missed shots and zero second-chance points. Clemson had 12 offensive rebounds on 29 missed shots and seven second-chance points. The Tigers won the battle on the boards 36-26 overall.
Guards still killing State
We wrote up this note last time and will now expand upon it. Here are how guards in the ACC have played against NC State this year so far:
- 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.
- Miami's Malcolm Grant had 23 points to lead all scorers.
- Clemson's Stitt scored 17 points, grabbed seven boards and dished out four assists.
Freshman guard Lorenzo Brown continue to show signs that he is breaking out of a recent slump. He made all three of his shots attempts, including a three-pointer, and both of his free throws for nine points off the bench.
Smith led the Pack with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting, giving him eight-straight games in double-figures since he returned from knee surgery Jan. 1 against San Diego. Smith is averaging 17.4 points per game since his return. Smith though also had a game-high four turnovers.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 12-8 overall and 2-4 in the ACC, while Clemson improved to 14-6 and 3-3 in the conference. The Tigers move into a tie for fifth-place in the ACC with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, while NCSU is now alone in 10th place in the conference, one game up in the win column over Miami who plays at North Carolina on Wednesday night. NC State's loss Tuesday means that they will have no-better than a .500 record in the first half of the ACC season.
NC State continues to lead the all-time series against Clemson 96-47. The Pack has a 31-29 edge in games played in Clemson, but the Tigers have a 22-17 edge at Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson has also won six of the last seven games in the series.
NC State is now 1-5 in true road games this year, and its one win was at Elon in the Greensboro Coliseum Jan. 5. The Pack is also just 3-8 against teams with winning records, with the victories coming over East Carolina, George Mason and Miami. The Pack is 3-0 against .500 squads (Elon, Alabama A&M and Tennessee Tech) and 6-0 against teams below .500.
Next up for NC State is a showdown with archrival North Carolina on Jan. 29 while Clemson is hosting FSU on Saturday.
Other stats of note
- The Tigers had the edge in points in the paint, 30-24.
- Despite losing the turnover margin 12-10, NC State had a 15-13 edge in points off turnovers.
- Both teams had six fast break points.
- State's bench outscored Clemson's 16-9.