Slow Start Dooms Pack

NC State seemed to enter Saturday's game against North Carolina with plenty of confidence after winning three straight home conference games.

NC State seemed to enter Saturday's game against North Carolina with plenty of confidence after winning three straight home conference games.

The Pack was doing well offensively, having shot nearly 50% from the field in the last two games. Different players were making plays, they were moving the basketball and finishing at the rim.

However, nothing worked in the first half against the Tar Heels.

"It was as bad a first half I can remember any of my teams having here," said NC State head coach Mark Gottfried.

NC State had just one field goal and two points in the first six minutes, falling behind 12-2 prior to T.J. Warren's jumper at the 13:51 mark.

There were multiple chances to score in transition that were botched, too much standing around offensively, and early jumpers that didn't come within the flow of the offense.

According to the play-by-play, the Wolfpack missed six layups in the first half, and it seemed like more.

"We still have to execute our offense better," Gottfried said. "Just a couple nights ago we played against a really good Florida State defensive team and we were moving without the ball. Their pressure didn't bother us.

"Here we come a couple days later, and now we seem to just stand around. That puts a lot of pressure on the ball-handler at that point to try to make a play."

"In the first half they sped us up a little bit," said Ralston Turner. "We took some quick shots that led to some fastbreak points that got us in a hole."

When they were able to get to the free throw line they didn't convert, hitting just 2-of-7 attempts.

"We got to the foul line early and missed foul shots right to start the game," said Gottfried.

The first 20 minutes ended with NC State scoring just 23 points on 10-of-40 shooting from the field. They had a similar start a few games ago against Maryland when the Pack shot just 22% and scored 20, but in that game the Terps had just 29.

The Tar Heels had put up 40 points and led by 17 at the half... a lead that was too large to overcome.

"We had a couple good looks early and missed those," said Gottfried. "Sometimes when you have a young team maybe they drop their heads a little bit and start to get unsure, so it just kind of steamrolled there in the first half."

If there is a positive for NC State it is that they continued to fight and didn't hang their heads for long. The Wolfpack trailed by 15+ points at halftime in both of their 30+ point losses this season... games where State seemed to fold.

That didn't happen on Saturday.

State came out in the second half and were much more aggressive offensively, shooting a blistering 65.4% from the field (17-of-26) while scoring 47 points. Junior Desmond Lee led the way, scoring 18 points while hitting 7-of-8 shots and 4-of-7 free throws.

"We were driving the ball, getting in the lane, and making shots," said Lee. "The ones we missed in the first half, we made in the second half... that's all."

"I thought in the second half we came out and really competed hard and played well," said Gottfried. "We shot a great percentage from the field and did some things really well in the second half.

"Unfortunately, we had dug ourselves too big of a hole."

UNC head coach Roy Williams may have summed it up best.

"We caught State on a day where they didn't make a bunch of their shots," said Williams. "At one point in the first half, I leaned over to the staff and said, ‘The only people shooting the ball worse than we are is them.' And you'd like to beat people where your defense has an effect on what they do.

"We won the game, and we were fortunate that State didn't make a lot of shots that they normally make."

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