TSX: Tough Road Ahead

North Carolina State is displaying its fragile makeup, and it couldn't be happening at a worse time.

The Wolfpack (12-8, 2-4 ACC), who blew a 19-point lead at Clemson on Jan. 25, next play three of the ACC's top five teams.

Against the Tigers, the Wolfpack built a 31-12 lead but then had no response when Clemson made its inevitable run.

"We got very tentative with our passes and our cuts," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said. "They got more aggressive as the game went on and we didn't respond. We needed to make a run in the second half, but we needed to do the right things to make that happen."

Instead, with N.C. State leading 34-29 at the break, Clemson went on a 16-0 run.

"Basketball's a game of runs," N.C. State sophomore forward Scott Wood said. "We talked about it at halftime, but we just didn't fight them off tonight."

The Wolfpack went meekly, making one basket over the game's final eight minutes.

And here comes the tough part of the schedule: Jan. 29 at North Carolina, Feb. 2 vs. Virginia Tech, Feb. 5 at Duke.

It's looking like another long season in Raleigh.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: For the first time since his return from knee surgery, senior forward Tracy Smith didn't dominate. He had just 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting Tuesday to go with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. He had been averaging 19.0 points in ACC play.

-- N.C. State has lost four of five and remains winless in ACC road games.

-- The Wolfpack, who had gotten off to slow starts in their first four conference games, didn't have that problem against Clemson on Jan. 25. They built a 19-point lead and were up 34-29 at the break. This time they collapsed in the second half, scoring just 16 points.

-- 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.

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.

--at North Carolina, Jan. 29

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?

--Sophomore F Scott Wood, who entered the Jan. 25 loss to Clemson hitting 43.9 percent from beyond the arc, made just 2 of 7 against the Tigers.

-- Freshman F C.J. Leslie entered the Jan. 25 loss to Clemson averaging 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds in ACC play. He was a virtual no-show, with no points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes.

-- 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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