Wolfpack upend 'Noles

Tuesday night a team sporting an 0-20 record on the road in the ACC traveled to a meet a team with an 11-0 home court record this season. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who won that one. And fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view it didn't take very long for the NC State Wolfpack pedal to the metal as they rolled over Florida State 75-59.

And it wasn't even really that close. Ignoring their usual patient style of offense the Wolfpack came out firing right off the bat. It was one three point shot after another. By the end of the half, NC State had connected on 10 three pointers, most of the wide open variety. In fact the Wolfpack did not hit their first two point basket until the 5:46 mark of the first half. However, Marcus Melvin was fouled on the play and Melvin calmly converted it into the traditional three point play. By that time, FSU trailed 32-18.

Normally you don't say a game is over by that point. But Scooter Sherrill added a back door layup and Watkins added the 10th three ball to stretch the lead to 37-18 with 4:11 left in the half. That was pretty much the game by then. North Carolina State was now able to run its normal Princeton style offense to keep the game clock running.

Defensively the plan was simple. Stop Tim Pickett. And stop him they did as Pickett scored just five points all in the first half. The Pack threw just about every top defender they had at him rotating Sherrill, Julius Hodge, and sometimes Melvin on FSU's top shooter.

Pickett's first shot gave FSU its only lead at 3-0. He did not score again on an offensive putback until 1:25 was left.

And with Pickett struggling to shake the Pack defense, Leonard Hamilton needed his other starters to step up. Unfortunately that didn't happen either. Of the 16 points among the other four only Alexander Johnson had anything resembling a decent game. But even his 9 points were deceiving as all of those came in the second half. Numerous times the ‘Noles could not buy basket from as close as two feet.

Hamilton said afterwards that Florida State "ran into a buzz saw".

"They were hitting jumpers from the parking lot. We just had trouble establishing an inside game. We did not do a good job of getting the ball inside." Unable to get anything from the low post allowed the Pack to effectively defend the perimeter game holing the Seminoles to 35% from the field.

Leading the Seminoles in scoring was Von Wafer with 12 points. Too often though Wafer tried to be the hero and was bailed out by making the tough shot. For example with FSU needing to establish itself early in the second half, Wafer knocked away the ball and attempted the coast to coast play challenging two Wolfpack defenders. The play resulted in a turnover.

Late in the game Wafer wasted a valuable potential possession when he inexplicably let a ball go out of bounds off a Benson Callier block.

Anthony Richardson saw significant playing time and responded with 11 points on 50% from the floor. But other than that was not much a of a factor.

NC State put four players in double figures with Engin Atsur leading the way with 20 points. Hodge scored 16, Melvin with 11, and Sherrill added 10.

The Pack took a 41-28 halftime lead to the locker room and picked up where they left off to open the second twenty minutes. Outscoring the ‘Noles 15-4 in the first seven minutes, NC State opened up its largest lead at 56-32. Despite scoring just two baskets over the next nine minutes the Pack had most everything on cruise control.

The Seminoles did cut the deficit to near ten points a couple of times. The ‘Noles were forced to foul putting the best free throw shooting team in the country at the line often. Obviously that strategy was not going to allow for another FSU miracle comeback such as the one in Tallahassee against North Carolina.

The now 16-8, 4-6 Seminoles return home and try to regroup from a two game losing streak for a Saturday contest against Clemson. Tip off is set for noon.

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