Huge Win for State

It might be stretching a point to say that North Carolina State might have saved its season by hanging on for its 72-70 victory over Miami.

After all, it's still only January, but a loss to the Hurricanes most definitely would have put the Wolfpack in a tough spot.

"You can put a capital on that," coach Sidney Lowe said in the Raleigh News & Observer's game report, emphasizing the "must-win" importance of the game. "You can put an asterisk beside it. It was a big win."

After opening league play by beating Wake Forest, the 'Pack had lost its last three games, all to ACC foes, going into the home game against Miami.

With two road games coming up next at Clemson and North Carolina, another defeat could have been devastating.

Somehow, though, after losing a 17-point second-half lead, the 'Pack had enough left to make two key defensive plays in the closing seconds to seal the win over the Hurricanes.

Freshman guard Ryan Harrow's steal with the 'Pack clinging to a 71-70 lead kept Miami from getting off a potential shot at the go-head basket.

Then, after forward C.J. Williams made it a two-point game with a free throw with 15.9 seconds left, the defense put enough pressure on inside on Miami's final possession to knock the ball away, and the buzzer sounded during the ensuing scramble for the ball to end the game.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- Coach Sidney Lowe changed his starting lineup for the third consecutive game when North Carolina State hosted Miami on Jan. 22, starting junior forward C.J. Williams for the second time this season and sending freshman C.J. Leslie, who was ill most of the week leading up to the game, to the bench.

Freshman G Ryan Harrow made his second start in a three-game stretch, and sophomore F Richard Howell made his first start since Dec. 4 against Syracuse. They joined sophomore G Scott Wood and senior F Tracy Smith on the floor for the opening tip.

You'd have to say the lineup changes worked. The Wolfpack got off to a 12-2 lead in less than four minutes against Miami.

-- More than 100 former players, coaches, and other personnel in the program were recognized during halftime as the Wolfpack celebrated 100 years of basketball at the school.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5-0 -- North Carolina State's record against Miami in games played in Raleigh.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Everybody talked about my defense and I finally got a steal, so I was pretty happy." -- Freshman G Ryan Harrow, in the Raleigh News & Observer, on his key takeaway late in the win over Miami last week.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
-- at Clemson, Jan. 25
KEY MATCHUPS:
The Wolfpack is going to have to deal with Clemson F Jerai Grant inside. The Tigers also have an experienced point guard in senior Demontez Stitt to go against freshman Ryan Harrow.

-- at North Carolina, Jan.
KEY MATCHUPS:
Freshmen look to play key roles. North Carolina F Harrison Barnes is beginning to show signs of living up to his preseason billing, and G Kendall Marshall seems to have settled the Tar Heels' backcourt issues. The 'Pack will counter with rookies C.J. Leslie up front and Lorenzo Brown and Ryan Harrow in the backcourt. F John Henson's defense on State's Tracy Smith also will be big.

FUTURES MARKET: What coach Sidney Lowe does to his lineup in the immediate future will be interesting to see. Will a healthy F C.J. Leslie move back into the starting lineup? What will senior G Javier Gonzalez' role be after playing only six minutes against Duke and 14 against Miami?

PLAYER NOTES
-- Sophomore F Richard Howell celebrated his return to the starting lineup by scoring a career-high 17 points against Miami. Howell had three starts early in the season, the last Dec. 4 against Syracuse.

-- Junior F C.J. Williams had only six points and three rebounds in his 23 minutes, but he also had two blocked shots and handed out three assists against only one turnover.

-- Freshman G Ryan Harrow was credited with seven assists, the most he has had against an ACC opponent. His season high was 10 against East Carolina in his second collegiate game. In five ACC games, he has 23 assists and only seven turnovers.


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