Pack battles back, downs Canes 71-66

NC State overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half, grabbing its second-straight conference win with a 71-66 victory at Miami on Saturday afternoon.

For the first 37 minutes of Saturday's game, NC State couldn't make a free throw. But with the game on the line, the Pack found its shooting stroke.

Despite shooting just 61 percent on the game from the charity stripe, the Wolfpack hit eight of its last nine free throws down the stretch to help the Pack overcome a nine-point second-half deficit to down Miami 71-66 in Coral Gables. The Pack picked up its second-straight conference win and first road win since the middle of January.

With the win, the Pack move into a three-way tie for 12th place in the ACC standings with Miami and North Carolina. The Pack has just two games remaining as the regular season winds down, traveling to Virginia Tech this week before finishing the season at home on Sunday against Boston College.

The Pack shot 51 percent from the field on the day and was a perfect 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the second half while committing just nine turnovers. The Canes shot 47 percent but went just 6-for-19 from the 3-point line while also committing 13 turnovers in the loss.

Tracy Smith again led the way for the Pack, scoring 19 points and pulling down seven rebounds. The Pack did get a scare when the big man went down late in the game after bumping knees with a Miami defender, but Smith came back a few minutes later with no apparent ill effects. Javi Gonzalez also added 19 points for the Pack, going 9-of-12 from the free-throw line.

The Canes fell behind early as the Pack looked inside to Smith on offense and kept the Canes off the glass on the defensive end. The Pack led 21-17 before the Hurricanes ran off a 9-1 run late in the half, fueled by Miami's offensive rebounding, taking its first lead of the game in the process. The Pack readjusted, tying up the game in the final seconds of the half to make it 30-30 going into the locker room.

The Pack shot just 44 percent from the floor and was just 1-of-4 from behind the arc in the half, compared to 52 percent shooting for the Hurricanes. But the Pack had the lead much of the half by forcing nine turnovers, including five steals, and coughing up the ball just five times on its side of the floor.

Miami came out of the locker room with a renewed determination, going on a 7-0 run to pull six points ahead of the Pack. Lowe's team got back within a point before two straight 3-point possessions pushed the lead back to seven.

The Pack got a huge boost in its comeback attempt with a five-point possession thanks to CJ Williams and Gonzalez. Williams made a transition lay-up but missed the free throw, allowing Gonzalez to get the rebound and drained a 3-pointer to get back within two points. The Pack completed its comeback when Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a jump hook in the lane to give the road team a 53-52 lead.

The two teams traded points for the final few minutes until the Pack pulled away with a few key stops and timely free-throw shooting, making eight of its final nine from the charity stripe.

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