North Carolina State's disciplined, efficient offense resulted in open shots that the 18th-ranked Wolfpack was able to convert. NC State combined that offense with a tenacious defense that frustrated the Alabama offense.
The difference was in three-point shots. Alabama was horrible, 1-10. NC State hit 11 of 30 treys.
A desperate Alabama rally in the final moments gave the Crimson Tide a chance. Bama trailed by three and had the ball when Ronald Steele got an open look at a three-pointer. Like so many other Tide efforts, the shot rimmed out. The Wolfpack tackd on a final free throw in the last seconds for the final margin.
North Carolina State improved to 9-1. Alabama fell to 5-4.
Bama returns to action at 7 p.m. Tuesday hosting Jackson State.
NC State went out to a 9-0 lead to start the game while Alabama was seemingly trying to adjust to the breakneck pace of play by the Wolfpack. But the Tide fought back to tie the game a couple of times in the first half. And Bama was able to tie the game at 41-41 in the second half with possession and a chance to take its only lead of the game. However, the Wolfpack responded with a 10-0 run that put Bama in a desperate situation from which it could not quite rally.
Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried gave credit to NC State as "playing like a seasoned, veteran team. They looked like a top 20 team. They answered everything we did."
But Gottfried added, "I like our team. The record doesn't show it, but our team is coming together. We're going to keep working."
He said, "We gave ourselves a chance. We just didn't get it done."
Although North Carolina State got its final three points from the free throw line, there was a huge disparity in foul shot opportunities. NC State fouls like Kentucky. However, the only team that doesn't have those fouls called in games worked by Southeastern Conference officials is Kentucky.
Alabama shot 24 free throws and made 17. North Carolina State did not shoot a free throw until the final 19 seconds.
Ironically, Alabama's foul-free performance cost Bama valuable seconds late in the game. Chuck Davis made two free throws to pull the Tide to within a point at 64-65 with 24 seconds to play. Ordinarily a team would play defense to try to get a 10-second call and then foul. But because Alabama had only three fouls at that point, Bama had to have quick fouls to put the Wolfpack at the free throw line.
Alabama managed its four fouls in only five seconds. But senior Engin Atsur went to the free throw line for the Wolfpack's first attempt of the night and made both ends of a one-and-one for a 67-64 lead.
Gottfried could be forgiven for desiring a more strict immigration policy. After Atsur made his two free throws, Ilian Evtimov made a final foul shot that absolutely assured the victory.
Atsur, a junior from Turkey, and Evtimov, a senior from Bulgaria, led North Carolina State with 15 points each. Cameron Bennerman had 14 for the winners.
Davis joined Alabama's 1,000-point club Thursday night. He needed nine points to have 1,0000 career points and he doubled that with a game-high 18 points. Steeve had 14.
Other than free throw shooting, freshman Alonzo Gee had an excellent offensive game for Alabama. Gee had nine points and nine rebounds. But he made only one of seven free throws