Abdul-Malik Abu doesn’t know whether Saturday’s upset of No. 15 Miami will propel N.C. State to a season-changing run. He does know the Wolfpack (12-10, 2-7 ACC) is not ready to give up.
“It’s never too late,” Abu said. “We still have a lot more games.”
N.C. State travels to Florida State (14-7, 4-5) on Monday to begin the second half of its ACC schedule. The Wolfpack is coming off its best win of the season, an 85-69 upset of No. 15 Miami.
The Wolfpack dominated Miami on the glass and had its best free-throw shooting game of the season on Saturday. But Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried was most impressed with his team’s effort.
“You have to learn how to do it every single night,” Gottfried said of his team’s effort level. “It can’t be one of those things where we do it every now and then. This league is too good.”
We’re capable of a lot if we really put it together and work together.
N.C. State’s Abdul-Malik Abu
Gottfried called his players out after a 90-83 home loss to Georgia Tech on Wednesday. He challenged them again Saturday to keep the same intensity for Monday’s trip to Florida State.
He said the team can’t use the short time between games as an excuse.
“I’m not real interested in any excuses,” Gottfried said. “We need to make sure we’re ready to play Monday night, which is going to be a quick turnaround for our team.”
The Seminoles beat the Wolfpack in the first matchup 85-78 in Raleigh, on Jan. 13. N.C. State’s next three games will be against teams that have already defeated them.
Just repeating Saturday’s performance and effort level is more of a goal than payback. Some players talked after Saturday’s game about last year’s win at Louisville and how it changed the season.
Could the Miami win do the same for this team?
“I’m not sure I’m ready to go there yet,” Gottfried said. “We just have to go one day at a time.”
The Wolfpack has the same approach to the NCAA tournament. At No. 91 in the RPI, N.C. State has a long way to go just to get back in the tournament conversation. At 2-7 in the ACC, there’s a tall mountain to climb. But with nine games left, Abu still likes the Wolfpack’s chances to get its act together.
“We’re capable of a lot if we really put it together and work together,” Abu said.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio