Teaching Points

What coach Sidney Lowe is preaching isn't carrying over from the practice court.

Lowe held a special "defensive practice" leading up to Wednesday's game against No. 4 Duke, then proceeded to watch his Wolfpack lose 92-78. N.C. State (11-7, 1-3 ACC) did not box out, giving up 16 offensive rebounds and allowing the Blue Devils to shoot 50.7 percent.

It was N.C. State's third straight ACC loss after an easy home win over the conference's worst team, Wake Forest.

In the past three games, N.C. State has given up 75, 84 and 92 points. What's next, 100? Fortunately, Sunday's opponent, Miami, doesn't seem capable of that kind of explosion.

The special defensive session focused on rotating, one-on-one principles and communication. Afterward Lowe called it "a great practice."

But it didn't translate to a great game. The hard truth is that N.C. State is wasting some terrific offensive performances, especially by senior forward Tracy Smith, due to the same defensive lapses.

Smith, who missed 10 games after undergoing knee surgery in mid-November, has been brilliant in his six games back. He's averaging more than 18 points and shooting about 60 percent from the field. In the loss to Duke, Smith led the Wolfpack with 19 points and nine rebounds.

-- N.C. State has lost 29 of its past 34 meetings with Duke.

-- The Wolfpack are nothing if not balanced. Five players average at least 9.5 points.

-- 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 recent 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 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 -- Number of Wolfpack players (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. 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.

-- Freshman PG Ryan Harrow continues to lead the ACC in free throw percentage. After hitting all six of his tries in the loss to Duke, Harrow is 59 of 63 this season (93.6 percent).

-- Sophomore F Scott Wood, who entered the Jan. 19 game against Duke leading the ACC in 3-pointers per game (2.7), enlarged his lead by nailing 4 of 7 tries.

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