TSX: Road Win 'Huge' for Pack

The Wolfpack put itself in a good position for at least the 11th seed in the conference tournament with its hard-earned 71-66 victory at Miami.

North Carolina State could still finish in last place in the ACC in the regular season and miss out on the ACC-Big Ten challenge next season. But the Wolfpack put itself in a good position for the 11th seed in the conference tournament with its hard-earned 71-66 victory at Miami.

The 'Pack overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half and sealed the deal by making seven of eight free throw attempts over the final 42 seconds.

"Huge," coach Sidney Lowe said of his team's second road win in conference play. "A road win in the ACC is huge, no question about it. That's just hard to do. It's hard to do.

"We came down here in this environment and really fought and kept our composure. I thought that was one of the best games again that we've had in terms of keeping our composure and executing down the stretch."

The victory put the 'Pack in a three-way tie for 10th place in the league with Miami and North Carolina.

The 'Pack lost both meetings this season against the Tar Heels but will hold the tiebreaker over the Hurricanes in seeding for the conference tournament by virtue of its victory if they finish with identical conference records.

Each of the three teams has a road game and a home game left on its schedule. The 'Pack is at Virginia Tech next and finishes the regular season against Boston College in Raleigh.

"There's still a lot really to be accomplished," Lowe said. "Playing well going into the ACC Tournament is big. It's big. You want to go into that feeling confident and feeling good.

"That's what we've been talking about really for the last month."

--When G Javier Gonzalez is on his game, N.C. State is a different team. And he was on his game at Miami, scoring 19 points to match teammate Tracy Smith for game scoring honors, handing out two assists, and making only one turnover. He was 9 of 12 from the free throw line, including 6 of 6 over the last 42 seconds.

--The victory over Miami gave N.C. State back-to-back conference wins for the first time this season.

The Wolfpack was good at the line in the final minute but hit only 19 of its 31 free throw attempts for the game against Miami. F Tracy Smith was only 1 of 7.

"I don't know what clicked, but he definitely did it today. He ran the show for us. He was vocal for us, telling guys to get back, let's get a stop here. He was talking to guys. If someone missed a shot or turned it over, he would tell them not to worry about it, just get back on the defensive end. He really just was doing exactly what we wanted him to do. He did a great job today." -- Coach Sidney Lowe, on the play of G Javier Gonzalez at Miami.

N.C. State assured itself of at least a break-even season with its comeback 71-66 win over Miami. At 16-13, the Wolfpack has two games left in the regular season and at least one in the ACC tournament. The 'Pack entered the week at 4-10 in the conference, tied with North Carolina and Miami for 10th place. It holds the tiebreaker over Miami when it comes to seedings for the league tourney but not the Tar Heels, who won both meetings in the regular season.

IN FOCUS: The Wolfpack hasn't won three ACC games in a row since the 2005-06 season when it had a four-game winning streak against conference foes. The 'Pack got drubbed by 20 in the first meeting with Virginia Tech in Raleigh on Feb. 10.

--Junior F Tracy Smith scored 19 points against Miami, his 12th consecutive game in double figures. He is 22 of 44 from the field in his last four games. Smith gave the 'Pack a scare when he had to leave the game late in the second half after colliding with Miami's Durand Scott and banging his knee. He went out with 5:45 left but returned at 3:49.

--Senior F Dennis Horner had a season-high five assists in the win over the Hurricanes. He has eight assists in his last two games after having just eight in his previous seven outings.

--Sophomore G C.J. Williams had six rebounds off the bench for the 'Pack, matching his career high.

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