"In the second half, we didn't do what we're supposed to do," N.C. State guard Lorenzo Brown said. "Nobody thought we could be this close in this game."
Given the collapse, a quick turnaround on the schedule could be a good tonic for the Wolfpack. N.C. State never trailed until less than three minutes remained against the Blue Devils.
"Anytime you're up 20 points and they come back and beat you, it's going to sting," N.C. State guard Scott Wood said. "We did a lot of good things. We did a lot of bad things."
A stretch of three games against nationally ranked teams in a matter of six days has received quite a bit of attention around the Wolfpack, which figures to hold the tag of an NCAA Tournament bubble team. Winning one of those games is bound to give a big boost to N.C. State's postseason aspirations, and now one of those chances has gone by the wayside.
TRENDING: The Wolfpack has stayed with a seven-player rotation for the most part during the past several weeks, and with a busy schedule of games in less than a week's time, it's worth watching how well the plan works. The benefit of the short bench is that the players should be comfortable with their roles and how they're likely to be used. There's always the issue of foul trouble emerging, and that -- along with any injuries -- could stymie the entire concept. But coach Mark Gottfried has stuck to seven players for most of the ACC schedule, so it's nothing new as the Wolfpack heads down the stretch. With three players fouling out against Duke, N.C. State used eight players.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Florida State, Feb. 18
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wolfpack will have to be cognizant of Florida State's strong interior, led by F Bernard James and so this means keeping F Richard Howell out of foul trouble. Florida State's backcourt can be physical, but G Scott Wood of the Wolfpack has had some clutch outings against the Seminoles.
FUTURES MARKET: The Wolfpack will want to watch how G Scott Wood reacts after missing his first free throws of the season. But it's not so much a matter of a couple of foul shots that didn't fall, but perhaps more an issue of how the wear and tear of the season might impact the Wolfpack in the final month of the regular season. N.C. State's five starters all played more than 30 minutes against Georgia Tech, which is near the bottom of the ACC standings. In Wood's case, he played more than 39 minutes for the most playing time on the team.
-- Senior G Alex Johnson produced the highest point total of his one-year stint with N.C. State when he scored 13 at Duke. Johnson, a reserve, drained three 3-point shots, giving him more than half of N.C. State's five 3-pointers in the game. With foul trouble dogging G C.J. Williams, Johnson was called upon for 33 minutes of playing time.
-- Junior G Scott Wood had been automatic on free throws this season until the past two games. His ACC record streak of successful free throws ended last week at 66 in a row when he missed three against Georgia Tech. He missed three more foul shots against Duke, going 7-for-10. The rest of the N.C. State team was a combined 9-for-14 on free throws in the Duke game.