On a night where seemingly nothing went right for the Pack, from bank-in 3-pointers to mystery technical, the Pack still seemed to fight for all 40 minutes. It was their worst performance of the season, but not because the effort or intensity level wasn't there – they simply ran into a team that played really well at the same time they played really poorly.
Georgia Tech is not a good team, but they are good enough to beat the Pack under those circumstances.
The effort level was most evident on the rebounding end. The Pack managed to grab almost 30 percent of its own misses against one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the league, while holding the Yellow Jackets to just 33 percent of its own misses.
The effort might not have been reflected much on the scoreboard, but the Pack never rolled over against Georgia Tech.
The Pack's lack of depth in the front court showed when Leslie and Howell both picked up their second foul in quick succession.
Without those two in the game, the Pack offense fell apart – as the Yellow Jackets went on a 14-1 run over the final minutes of the half to turn a two-point deficit into an 11-point lead. The 29 first-half points was the lowest total for the Pack all season in the first 20 minutes, three points worse than their previous low against Princeton at the beginning of the season.
When the Pack managed to make a run in the second half and get within five points, Leslie picked up his fourth foul. Georgia Tech went on another run at that point and the game was essentially over.
NC State showed on Wednesday night that its defense is not good enough to overcome a poor offensive performance. The Pack's perimeter defense was its usual self, which combined with some fluky shooting helped the Yellow Jackets double their usual percentage from behind the arc – going 9-of-15 from long range.
And while the defense was giving up big shots, the offense just wasn't clicking. The Jackets did a good job of forcing the Pack outside of the paint and into jump shots. The Pack took 19 shots from behind the arc, above their season average, and hit just 26 percent.
Scott Wood had an off night, hitting just 3-of-11 from the field despite a number of good looks especially in the first half.
And while the Jackets gave up 11 offensive rebounds the Pack only got nine second-chance points off those boards.
Officials Changing The Course Of The Game
NC State didn't lose the game because of the officiating on Wednesday night, but it certainly helped the Yellow Jackets during their second-half run.
C.J. Williams drove to the basket and appeared to get fouled on the shot, but no call was made and Gottfried lost his jacket in frustration. The officials quickly hit Gottfried with a technical but never gave the Pack's head coach any explanation for the call and Roger Ayers, who rang up Gottfried, refused to even acknowledge the coach. The Jackets would use that call as a springboard to another 9-0 run, a run that included several more questionable calls as the referees tried to regain control of the game.
Officials miss calls, that's just part of the game, but the problem on Wednesday night was the lack of communication from the officiating crew to the Pack sideline.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
This is a tough call for all of the wrong reasons. Leslie was the best player on the court for the Pack when he was on the court, but his foul trouble was a major reason for the Pack's problems last night.
Howell was also in foul trouble and turned the ball over four times as well. Brown also had four turnovers but did manage six assists and two steals to go with 13 points. Wood had his worst shooting night in a long time, and C.J. Williams was consistent but not spectacular.
Let's give the nod to Brown, who probably tried to do a little too much last night but didn't have a ton of options with his big men in foul trouble and his best shooter struggling.
Gottfried on having an off day:
"We all like to come up with this grand answer of why your team doesn't play good. Sometimes you just don't play good. I go play golf. Sometimes I'm terrible. Sometimes I'm a little better. It's a part of life."