Mays, Pack come up short in Atlanta, 73-71

NC State cut a 16-point Georgia Tech down to just two points with 14 seconds left. The Wolfpack had one final chance, but Julius Mays came up just short on last-second 3-pointer as the Jackets held on 73-71.

Julius Mays caught the pass and fired. The ball was straight on but short, clanking off the front of the rim to end a furious comeback attempt by NC State.

With five minutes left, Georgia Tech had a 16-point lead against the Wolfpack in front of its home crowd. The Pack looked dead, destined to its four straight ACC game. But out of seemingly no where, the Yellow Jackets offense fell apart. Facing the Pack's full-court pressure defense, the Jackets struggled to even get the ball over the halfcourt line.

In three minutes, the Pack cut a 16-point lead to a single point. The Pack had two opportunities to take the lead facing that one-point deficit only to turn the ball over both times. A few possessions later they forced a jump ball and regained possession with 14 seconds left. Javi Gonzalez missed a mid-ranged jumper but the Pack got the rebound and got the ball to Mays, who's miss sent the Pack home with its fourth-straight ACC loss 73-71 on Saturday afternoon.

The Pack was its own worst enemy on the day, allowing the Yellow Jackets to build a big lead in the second half with a barrage of turnovers and poor defensive plays. The Pack finished the game with 21 turnovers and allowed the Jackets to shoot 52 percent from the floor and 54 percent from behind the 3-point line. The pack shot just 35 percent from the floor and 30 percent from behind the arc in the loss.

Tracy Smith led the Pack with 22 points, nine rebounds and even grabbed six steals – a career high for the starting center. Scott Wood added 12 points for the Pack, all on 3-pointers and all in the first half. Josh Davis and Richard Howell started in place of Dennis Horner and Farnold Degand, who did not play on Saturday. Howell grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out at the five-minute mark.

Javi Gonzalez returned to the starting line-up after coming off the bench in the last two contests, scoring 13 points and dishing out seven assists but committing seven turnovers. Horner came off the bench and scored 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

The Pack's offensive struggles continued at the opening tip, with the team scoring just two points in the first seven minutes of the game, committing five turnovers during that span. They were able to hang close though as Tech began the half shooting 2-of-10 from the field.

But while the Jackets began to heat up later in the half, the Pack stayed ice cold allowing the Jackets to pull ahead by as much as 10. The Pack got back into the game thanks to the sharp-shooting of Wood, who drained 3-pointers on three straight possession to help the Pack come all the way back and take a 32-30 lead into the locker room.

Both teams struggled from the field in the half, with the Pack shooting just 35 percent from the field while the Jackets shot 45 percent. The Pack stayed ahead by making 4-of-12 from behind the arc and out-rebounding Georgia Tech. Both teams were turnover-prone in the half, giving the ball away 10 times each.

The problems for the Pack returned out of the locker room, scoring just four points in the first six minutes of the half as turnovers again plagued the Pack's offensive flow. Georgia Tech didn't have the same offensive struggles though, quickly erasing the Pack's lead with a 15-4 run to start the half. The Jackets continued to add to the lead as outside shots began to fall for the home team and the Pack continued turning the ball over.

The Pack fell behind by as much as 16 points late in the half, but managed to mount a comeback thanks to its full-court pressure defense. Two free-throws from Horner cut the lead to eight points with 3:22 left in the game, part of a run that cut the double-digit advantage down to just a point with two minutes remaining. From there though, the Pack went back to its turnover prone ways, costings itself the contest.

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