N.C. State 68, Miami 57

NC State tops Miami 67-58 in ACC tournament

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 13, 2014 

— N.C. State wanted another shot at Syracuse.

The Wolfpack had to pay back Miami first, and did Thursday, with 24 points from T.J. Warren and 22 from Ralston Turner in a 67-58 win over the Hurricanes in the ACC tournament.

So the seventh-seeded Wolfpack (20-12), which lost at Syracuse by a point on Feb. 15 after a late turnover and questionable interpretation of a foul call, will get another chance at the second-seeded Orange at 7 p.m. Friday night.

“It’s not about payback, it’s about opportunity,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “We’ve got an opportunity tomorrow that’s golden. You couldn’t ask for a better one.”

N.C. State, with a 2-7 record against the RPI’s top 50, is in desperation mode in need of any win, but especially the signature variety, to make a push for the NCAA tournament. The Wolfpack thought it had one for its postseason resume at Syracuse, but lost 56-55 when the Orange was ranked No. 1 in the country.

N.C. State led 55-54 with 13.6 seconds left when Warren was fouled from behind on breakaway by Syracuse guard Trevor Cooney. Instead of a continuation call and possible three-point play, Warren’s basket was wiped out and N.C. State got the ball out of bounds. The Orange forced a turnover and got the game-winning layup with 6.7 seconds left.

“We played them very tough up there,” Gottfried said. “We felt pretty bad walking out of that locker room that night. We get another opportunity and it’s a golden opportunity. So it’s up to us.”

N.C. State already got its win back from Miami (17-16) after the Hurricanes blasted the Wolfpack 85-70 on March 1. Warren’s streak of 40-point games ended at two, but he finished with 24 points, his 27th game with at least 20 points.

The Wolfpack went ahead by at least seven points on five occasions in the second half on Thursday but couldn’t quite pull away from the 2013 ACC champions. Miami actually took the lead, 53-51, on a 3-pointer by Davon Reed at the 3:51 mark.

But N.C. State scored the game’s next 12 points with four coming from Turner (who finished 5 of 8 from the 3-point line), including a big 3-pointer at 1:44 to give the Wolfpack a 58-53 advantage.

Miami got 20 points from guard Rion Brown, and shot 54.2 percent in the second half, but dropped its first ACC tournament game in three tries against the Wolfpack.

Miami, one of the worst offensive teams in the country, lit up the Wolfpack in Raleigh 13 days ago, exceeding its season average by almost 25 points. The Canes scored only 22 in the first half. Freshman guard Manu Lecomte, who had 15 in Miami’s win, was held to seven on Thursday. Senior forward Erik Swoope also had 15 in Raleigh but only six in Greensboro.

The recent home loss to Miami was a topic of conversation, and source of motivation, for the Wolfpack players.

“We talked about it a lot because they punched us in the mouth back at the PNC (Arena),” N.C. State forward Kyle Washington said. “We didn’t feel good about that and we said we owed them one.”

Now N.C. State can turn its attention to the Orange, which started 25-0 but finished 2-4. It will be Syracuse’s first ACC tournament game after 34 years in the Big East.

Orange coach Jim Boeheim has playfully jabbed at the Greensboro locale and will be the center of focus at the Coliseum, which lost the upper-deck curtain on Thursday night as the regular tournament crowd of 21,533 filled in. It’s also Boeheim’s first trip back to the state since getting ejected at the end of Syracuse’s loss at Duke on Feb. 22.

But none of that really matters to N.C. State.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Turner said. “It’s not a revenge game. The main thing is we just want to keep winning.”

 

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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