No. 25 Missouri 68, N.C. State 64

Late comeback gives No. 25 Missouri a 68-64 win at NC State

jgiglio@newsobserver.comDecember 28, 2013 

— N.C. State had Missouri and another win, right up until it didn’t.

The Wolfpack controlled the game and the 25th-ranked Tigers for more than 36 minutes on Saturday night.

What the Wolfpack couldn’t do is close out Mizzou. Junior guard Jordan Clarkson wouldn’t let them.

Clarkson’s clutch scoring, 21 points in all, and junior guard Jabari Brown’s 3-pointer with 55.1 seconds left lifted Missouri to a 68-64 win over N.C. State at PNC Arena.

The loss snapped N.C. State’s seven-game winning streak. It was the first loss of the season for the Wolfpack (9-3) in a game it had controlled, and led by as many as 10 points in the second half.

“We were in control but I think you have to give those guys credit,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “They stepped up and made some big shots.”

None bigger than Brown’s from the left elbow after N.C. State’s Ralston Turner had responded with two big 3-pointers of his own. Turner’s second 3, with 1:38 left, gave the Wolfpack a 62-60 lead.

But Brown was able to knock down a contested shot to put the Tigers (11-1) up for good.

N.C. State had its chances in the final 30 seconds. Freshman guard Cat Barber, who spent most of the game in foul trouble, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 26.8 seconds left with the Wolfpack down 63-62.

Turner, who was a revelation in the final minutes while T.J. Warren’s offense went AWOL, got a contested look from the right elbow with 7.4 seconds left but his potential game-tying 3-pointer didn’t reach the rim.

“We just made bad plays at the end,” senior forward Jordan Vandenberg said.

Little went N.C. State’s way in the final four minutes after it had put in a solid effort for the first 36 minutes.

Warren provided a game-high 24 points but none after he hit a 3-pointer with 12:02 left in the game. He only took three shots in the final 12 minutes, after taking 20 in the first 28 minutes.

Gottfried said he thought Warren had gotten tired in the second half, and even tried to rest him for a longer stretch near the 4-minute mark. The coach said while Turner and freshman forward Kyle Washington (10 points) stepped up in the second half, the Pack can’t forget about its best player.

“He’s not our only option,” Gottfried said. “I do think we can do some things to make sure T.J. stays involved.”

N.C. State seemingly took control of the game with a 10-2 run midway through the second half. Washington shone as N.C. State built a 10-point lead.

Washington hit three jumpers and blocked a pair of shots as the Wolfpack built momentum and the crowd of 16,419 got rolling.

It looked like N.C. State would get its second win over an SEC team in three games after Washington’s 16-footer made it 53-43 with 8:56 to play.

But Mizzou and Clarkson kept coming back. Clarkson’s 3-pointer, right after Washington’s third field goal, started the Tigers’ push. Clarkson’s three-point play with 3:51 left gave Mizzou its first lead of the game, 57-56.

Turner, who had made only one shot in the first half, picked up the scoring mantle from Warren and drilled a 3-pointer at 3:28 to give the Wolfpack a 59-57 lead.

Back and forth Turner went with Clarkson and Brown. Clarkson had the answer at 2:55, for a 60-59 Mizzou advantage, and then Turner uncorked another 3 with 1:38 left.

That was State’s last lead. Turner got one more look, with 7.4 seconds left, but it was short, and so was the Pack’s closing kick.

“We just didn’t get it done down the stretch,” Gottfried said.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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