Leonard Hamilton stated before the game that his team needed to run the offense more efficiently than the previous meeting between the two to be successful this time. That didn't happen. Too many unforced turnovers, 15 total, and too many missed opportunities could just not be cashed in by the ‘Noles.
Hodge led all scorers with 21 points and Melvin added 20. Utilizing a Princeton style offense, the Wolfpack were able to capitalize on many backdoor layups or short jump shots. That added up to a 52% shooting from the floor.
Scooter Sherrill was the only other Wolfpack player in double figures with 10.
Hamilton felt his team was very indecisive and unsure of themselves right from the start of the game on both sides of the ball. On the offensive, multiple defenses and especially the Wolfpack's matchup zone confused the Seminoles. On the defensive side, the Wolfpack, unlike the normal style of ACC teams, were very patient with the ball passing crisply around the court waiting for the right shot. FSU just could not adjust.
For Florida State, Tim Pickett was the Tribe's leading scorer with 20 points over his 38 minutes of play. Trevor Harvey had another fine game with 14 points several coming from offensive rebounds. Anthony Richardson, the team's second leading scorer, picked up three first half fouls sending him to the bench at the 6:44 mark. Richardson ended with just 9 points.
FSU never led in the game. Following Sherrill's basket, Florida State was down 11-4 forcing Hamilton to call a timeout at the 16:51 mark. The Seminoles' play was sloppy as they flirted with turnovers on almost every possession. The timeout seemed to work as Michael Joiner converted an alley oop pass and Harvey had one of his offensive putbacks.
But that success was short-lived as FSU's next three possession ended in turnovers.
Joiner's three from the corner did cut the lead to 13-11, but Sherrill's transition layup followed Watkins backdoor bunny shot. NC State built the lead to 24-15 on Hodge's two free throws. After FSU closed the deficit to six, the Wolfpack completely confused FSU's defense and Hodge capitalized once again making the score 30-22.
Florida State mounted a charge. Adam Waleskowski made one of two from the line and Pickett nailed a three ball. After Hodge answered, Joiner sank a 12-foot jumper and Harvey made both free throws to close it to 32-30. And again Hodge and Melvin again sank a couple of daggers into Florida State. The last was Melvin's three-pointer right in front of FSU's bench with a hand in his face.
The Wolfpack took a 37-30 lead to the locker room after scoring the last five points over the remaining 1:27.
Harvey scored seven of FSU's first nine points of the second half. All were second chance points as he well positioned for the putbacks. His free throw on his third basket pulled Florida State to within three points, 43-40 at the 17:11 mark.
Three quick FSU turnovers and a 9-2 run for all practical purposes ended any chance for the ‘Noles. Levi Watkins' transition three-pointer upped the Wolfpack lead to 54-42.
Hamilton had seen enough and called timeout. Giving NC State a little of their own medicine, the ‘Noles went to a zone defense for the first time in the game out of the timeout. That briefly surprised the Wolfpack. Pickett hit a three and Todd Galloway was the beneficiary of Pickett's only steal when he finished off the fast break. FSU trailed 56-47 with just over nine minutes left.
NC State recovered and eventually the wheels came completely off for FSU. Hodge made two from the line, Melvin hit a three, and Hodge converted yet another backdoor play. Suddenly the scoreboard read 67-52 and only 2:44 remained.
Pickett managed to pad his stats with two three-pointers in the last twenty-four seconds.
Hamilton said afterwards that he felt his team did not play with the same intensity displayed in recent games and that hopefully something was learned from this game.
The ‘Noles will have to learn quickly as they go on the road again. This time to Clemson on Saturday for a noon tip off.