The Pack never found its offense during the second half against Miami, ultimately falling to the Hurricanes 72-64 on Saturday afternoon in Coral Gables. The Pack led by nine points at halftime but went ice cold in the second half, shooting just 33 percent in the final frame to allow the Canes to take control.
Jack McClinton led the way for the Canes in the second half, scoring 24 points and going a perfect 16-for-16 from the free throw line despite a 3-for-15 effort from the floor. The senior guard, playing his final game at home, scored just two points in the second half but found ways to get to the line and score during the final 20 minutes.
Gonzalez led the Wolfpack with 19 points including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. The sophomore guard also had four assists and just two turnovers in a losing effort. Two other Pack players scored in double figures, with Brandon Costner adding 12 and Tracy Smith also scoring 12 points. Ben McCauley was 0-for-7 from the floor but led the team with 10 rebounds and five assists while going 6-for-6 from the line.
The loss moves the Pack into 10th place in the ACC, and the team will play at seven on Thursday in the opening round of the ACC Tournament. It's 6-10 regular season record is a two-game improvement on last year and Lowe's best regular season finish in his three years at the helm.
Both teams came out cold to start the game. The Pack was hitting shots but five early turnovers and giving Miami second-chance points helped keep the Hurricanes close for the majority of the first half. McClinton, the Canes leading scorer, did not make a field goal in the first half going 0-for-7 from the floor and scoring just two points.
The two teams traded baskets for much of the first half, as State jumped out to a brief six-point advantage before Miami came back to take the lead for a short time around the halfway point of the half. Brandon Costner got the Pack off its offensive slide with a steal and dunk to ignite a run by the visiting team.
The Pack opened up a lead as soon as it started taking care of the ball. While Miami was shooting just 26 percent from the floor, the Pack was shooting 50 percent as it effectively worked from the inside out as it attacked the Canes zone defense. Smith led all scorers in the first half with 10 points while the Pack finished off the half with a 16-5 run to take a 30-21 lead into the locker room.
But the Hurricanes came out in the second half with renewed energy, jumping all over the Pack with a 10-0 run to take a 31-30 lead. Turnovers were again the key to the Canes run, getting two runaway dunks on steals as the home team took control of the game. But the Pack fought back quickly, as Costner led the way with a three-point play and a 3-pointer to put the visitors back on top.
But Miami rebounded to take its biggest lead of the game, as McClinton heated up from the floor then sank a pair of free throws to make it 50-46 in favor of the Hurricanes. The Pack went ice cold from the field, going 0-for-11 from the floor during a stretch late in the half that allowed Miami to make its run. The Canes hit the game-clinching shot when Clint Hurdle nailed a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to give Miami a seven-point lead with two minutes remaining.