So far, the Mark Gottfried experience at North Carolina State hasn’t gone according to plan. Although he’s guided the Wolfpack to the NCAA tournament in his first two seasons at the helm, the level of success hasn’t quite met the expectations.
Timely shooting and a barrage of free throws were enemies of the Wolfpack Saturday afternoon as they suffered a major blow to this season’s tourney hopes with an 85-70 home loss to the Miami Hurricanes. The loss almost certainly bursts their tournament bubble, as they’ll have to win their final two games at Pittsburgh and against Boston College to put them back in the conversation.
Even with that, a selection will hardly be a foregone conclusion without a strong showing in the ACC tournament.
Even though neither team gained no more than a five-point cushion in the first half, the ‘Canes (15-14, 6-10 ACC) seemed to play with more desperation. A 3-pointer by Davon Reed with four seconds left snatched the lead from the Wolfpack and Miami took a 37-36 lead into the locker room.
The ‘Canes continued their hot shooting in the second half, sparked by backcourt mates Rion Brown (20 points) and Garrius Adams (16 points), with the latter bolstered by 10-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Reserve guard Manu Lecomte was 3-of-3 from 3-point range on his way to 15 points.
ACC scoring leader T.J. Warren attempted to put the Wolfpack (17-12, 7-9) on his back in the second half, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half to give them their first lead of the second half on an emphatic dunk at the 6:29. However, Miami quickly regrouped with a timeout and coasted the rest of the way as they never relinquished the lead again.
The win gave the ‘Canes a bit of revenge from a 56-55 defeat at the hands of the Wolfpack on Feb. 8. They must also play the role of giant killers in the ACC tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament with the automatic bid being their most probable option.
The Wolfpack faithful knows that all isn’t lost and they are in a better position than Miami. However, the fact remains the much-ballyhooed recruiting class of 2012 that included McDonald’s All-American’s Warren, Tyler Lewis and Rodney Purvis should be competing at a higher level than the one they’re currently playing at.