Defining Week For Pack

Rigors on the road took their toll on North Carolina State, which was limping back home with a 1-2 ACC record after losses at Boston College and Florida State.

But the Wolfpack, which had a five-game winning streak through its conference opener, won't find relief in Raleigh if it doesn't pick up the intensity on defense.

The first of the back-to-back home games for the 'Pack is against Duke.

The 'Pack seemed lost in allowing the Seminoles, who were 11th in the conference in field-goal shooting coming into the game (42.8 percent), to hit 54.5 percent from the field in coasting to an 84-71 win.

"That was probably the worst defense I've seen us play in a long time," coach Sidney Lowe told the Raleigh News & Observer. "It really hurt us." The 'Pack fell behind by 16 points early in the second half and was never in the game after that. Florida State led by as much as 79-57 with just over three minutes left.

"Our defense was pretty bad," senior forward Tracy Smith told the News & Observer.

-- North Carolina State's shooting has come back to earth. After hitting 54.7 percent from the field in its five-game winning streak, the Wolfpack went only 52-of-125 (41.6 percent) in losses at Boston College and Florida State. The 'Pack shot only 38.7 percent against the Seminoles, the first time it had been below 40 percent since hitting only 31.8 percent in a loss to Arizona back on Dec. 19.

-- Florida State hit 54.5 percent from the field to become just the second team this season to hit at least 50 percent the field against the Wolfpack. The other was Wisconsin, which was 28-of-56, and even 50 percent, in its win over the 'Pack.

-- After being charged with 16 turnovers to FSU's 11, the Wolfpack hadn't won the turnover battle in nine consecutive games through Jan. 16. The best it was able to do was break even in the win over Elon.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Wolfpack player (G Scott Wood) who had started every game through Jan. 16. Senior G Javier Gonzalez came off the bench against Florida State.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have to play better. We have to win games. There's definitely still time, but we have to play better, and our defense has to get better." -- Coach Sidney Lowe, in the Raleigh News & Observer, after the Wolfpack's loss at Florida State.

--vs. Duke, Jan. 19
The question is, who will draw the assignment on Duke G Nolan Williams? Senior G Javier Gonzalez would seem to be the likely candidate over freshmen Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow, but Gonzalez was just moved to the bench after hitting a shooting slump. The Wolfpack's Tracy Smith and C.J. Leslie face a challenge inside from brothers Miles and Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly.

--vs. Miami, Jan. 13
Stopping C Reggie Johnson, who has a tendency to get into foul trouble, is one key to success against Miami. The other is to get a strong defensive effort on G Malcolm Grant to keep him from going off from the 3-point arc.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolfpack doesn't want free-throw shooting to become an issue. The 'Pack was shooting 69.8 percent through its first 17 games, but it was only 22-for-37 (59.5 percent) in the losses to Boston College and Florida State. The 'Pack shot 76.9 percent in its five-game winning streak.

-- Sophomore G Scott Wood, who was 13-for-21 on 3-pointers (16-for-25 overall) and scored 49 points in N.C. State's two wins over Florida State last season, was only 3-for-7 on treys against the Seminoles and settled for 10 points.

--Freshman G Ryan Harrow made his first start of the season and scored 17 points against Florida State. Harrow was only 4-for-11 from the field but was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. He had hit 29 of his last 30 attempts from the stripe through Jan. 16.

--Senior F Tracy Smith had 19 points against the Seminoles. In the five games since his return from knee surgery, Smith was averaging 18.2 ppg while shooting 54.0 percent from the floor.

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