Led by another 3-point barrage from Scott Wood, who hit 6-of-10 from behind the arc and scored 18 points, NC State marches on to the weekend in the ACC Tournament with a 58-52 win over Florida State on Friday night. The Pack capped off an upside-down day of action in which the No. 7, No. 11 and No. 12 seeds all advanced to the semifinals along with No. 1 seed Duke.
"I've been seeing all the highlights of the games and it seemed like all the lower seeds are coming out on top," Wood said. "I kinda didn't want to let them all down."
The Pack now stands just two wins shy of winning its first ACC Championship in over 20 years. The Pack will take on No. 7 seed Georgia Tech in tomorrow afternoon's semi-final which is scheduled to tip at 3:30. The Yellow Jackets won the only meeting between the two teams in Atlanta, a game where the Pack rallied from a double-digit deficit only to fall in the final seconds.
"We were getting blown out most of the game but with two minutes left we started pressing and got all the way back," senior Dennis Horner said. "We still believe that Julius [Mays] got fouled and we are looking to get some payback."
While Wood's heroics from 3-point range will garner most of the headlines, the workman-like performance of the Pack's defense is what ultimately pushed them into the semifinals. The Pack forced 20 turnovers and held the Seminoles to just 39 percent shooting from the floor and 17 percent from 3-point range. The defensive effort was enough to overcome the 19 offensive boards the Pack gave up and come out with a win.
"We really picked our defense up," head coach Sidney Lowe said. "I thought we were tough in the second half with our defense, especially down the stretch. We executed well."
Wood led the way in the scoring department, the Pack got double-digit performances out of both Javi Gonzalez and Tracy Smith as well. Gonzalez played one the best games of his career, filling up the stat sheet with 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals. Smith contributed another solid effort with 13 points but was just 4-of-11 from the floor as the Seminoles made it a point to deny the post.
"This is a real big team and they clog up the paint," Smith said. "It's hard to go up there and finish over them."
Scott Wood started quickly, draining an early 3-pointer to give the Pack a brief 7-4 lead at, but Florida State tightened its defensive screws on its way to a 10-0 run to take control of the first half. The Seminoles held on to the lead for most of the half, with the Pack managing to grab a few one-point leads before a 6-2 run by the Noles to end the half gave the No. 3 seed a 28-25 halftime lead.
The Pack looked for Wood throughout the half, as the freshman hit 3-of-4 from behind the arc to lead his team with nine first-half points.. But overall the Pack offense struggled mightly against the Florida State defense, hitting just 38 percent of its shots and coughing up a whopping 12 turnovers. The Pack's own defensive pressure kept the score close though, as the Seminoles shot 46 percent but also committed 12 turnovers.
The bombing from Scott Wood didn't end in the first half though, as he reigned in another trio of 3-pointers early in the second half to help the Pack build a nine-point lead with 15 minutes left. The Noles tried to chip away, but for the second straight night the Pack was getting just enough plays to maintain the lead. Smith made two key baskets down the stretch as well, a dunk and a rainbow jumper with the shot clock winding down.