RALEIGH — N.C. State's eventful 76-62 loss to Florida State on Saturday featured three technical fouls, two Wolfpack legends getting ejected by a referee and one disheartened coach.
After all of the hullabaloo, N.C. State's NCAA tournament chances were reduced and the Wolfpack was searching for answers for what went wrong in such a big game.
Maybe Wolfpack senior C.J. Williams put the wild afternoon at the RBC Center best: "We just didn't have it."
A season-low 29.3 percent from the floor suggests the Wolfpack didn't, and the 17 turnovers were further proof, but the physical mistakes weren't what bothered coach Mark Gottfried after the game.
"Regardless of what happens, you have to bring your A-game every night mentally," Gottfried said. "I don't think we were there mentally, that's what bothers me."
And Gottfried, whose team fell to 2-7 against the top 50 teams in the RPI, said that's the kind of issue that leaves a team on the outside of the 68-team field for the NCAA tournament, looking in.
"If you want to play in the greatest show on Earth, then you better toughen up and man up, pal," Gottfried said. "There is no other way to look at it."
The first-place Seminoles (19-7, 10-2 ACC) were plenty tough in completing a Big Four exacto for the first time since they joined the ACC in 1992. No other FSU team had beaten North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and N.C. State in the same season, until this one.
The Noles did what they always do under Leonard Hamilton: Win with defense and a rotating army of athletic bodies. Eleven players got significant minutes and all scored. Guard Ian Miller led the way with 17 points off the bench while forward Bernard James added 12 points and four of the team's nine blocks.
The Wolfpack (18-9, 7-5 ACC) got 21 points from forward C.J. Leslie and little elsewhere. The lifeless effort, which saw the 'Pack fall behind 37-26 at the half, kept most of the 17,547 fans quiet while FSU built a 57-37 second-half lead.
That was until former Wolfpack players Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta were asked to leave their seats behind the scorers' table with 6:40 left in the game.
Head referee Karl Hess effectively ejected Corchiani and Gugliotta for arguing calls. After the two Wolfpack greats walked off the arena floor, the team made a run.
Guard Scott Wood, who was 1 of 10 for the game, was fouled by Deividas Dulkys on a 3-point attempt at the 6:40 mark and made all three of his free throws. He came down on the Wolfpack's next possessions and made his only field goal of the game, a 3-pointer.
N.C. State trailed 59-47 after Wood's 3-pointer and then Miller and Richard Howell traded baskets. Wood's 3 from the top of the key, which would have made it a nine-point game, bounced off the rim and James converted a layup to push FSU's margin to 63-49.
The Seminoles didn't look back.
Gottfried wants his team to look forward, instead of retracing the recent missed steps to cement its NCAA tournament status.
Williams said that won't be a problem for the players.
"We don't worry about that. That's y'all's job. We just go out and play."
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