N.C. State was better in the first half of Saturday’s 67-55 loss at North Carolina.
In the previous three ACC games, the Wolfpack played better in the second half. Putting two halves together has been elusive for the 0-5 Wolfpack.
“We can’t just pick and choose when we want to turn the light switch on,” Cody Martin said. “We have to play the whole time.”
N.C. State had its best defensive half of the season against the Tar Heels. The Wolfpack held the Tar Heels to 34.4 percent shooting in the first half and held the ACC’s highest-scoring team to 29 points.
Never miss a local story.
N.C. State, a 15-point underdog, led by as many as five points in the first half, thanks to its defensive effort.
The difference in giving up 50 points in the second half at Wake Forest on Jan. 9 and holding UNC to less than 30 was communication, Martin said.
“Just talking and helping each other out and being at the right place in the right time,” Martin said.
Martin’s presence in the starting lineup might have helped the defense, too. He made his first start of the season, switching places with twin brother, Caleb.
Martin was the primary defender on UNC guard Marcus Paige, who finished with three points – 12 below his season average – and made just 1 of 9 shots.
While N.C. State’s defense turned in its best performance of the season, the 55 points was a season-low.
Junior guard Cat Barber, the ACC’s leading scorer, finished with nine points — and he scored all of those in the first half.
Barber had more help on Saturday, with Abdul-Malik Abu scoring 12 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Abu said a lack of talent is not the reason the Wolfpack is 0-5 in ACC play for the first time since 1997.
“I believe in this team,” Abu said. “We showed good signs but, more importantly, we want to win.”