The chaos that marked the rest of the ACC never reached South Florida on Saturday.
While favorites and heavyweights fell across the league in the early afternoon games, Miami took care of business at home in a no-nonsense 81-63 win over N.C. State.
Conference favorites Duke, North Carolina and Virginia all lost in upsets on Saturday. The Wolfpack (11-3, 0-1 ACC), a 7-point underdog, could not duplicate the efforts of Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech or Florida State.
It also marked the first time since Jan. 11, 2014, all four ACC teams from the state lost on the same day.
“This is a great conference,” N.C. State freshman Dennis Smith Jr. said. “You’ve got to come out and bring it every night, as a whole unit.”
That wasn’t the case for the Wolfpack, which squandered any momentum from a six-game winning streak outside the league. Miami (11-2, 1-0), with 21 points from junior point guard Ja’Quan Newton, knocked N.C. State back early and was relentless on the offensive glass and in hustle plays.
Effort was an issue for the Wolfpack, who seemingly got beat to every loose ball by Miami.
“They just played harder than we did,” Smith said. “That’s the end of it.”
Smith had 21 points and five assists but missed his first four 3-pointers and didn’t get much help inside or out. Junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu had 11 points and nine rebounds but was the only other Wolfpack player in double-figures.
Guards Terry Henderson (five points) and Torin Dorn (seven points) had tough games while Miami’s backcourt shone. Senior wing Davon Reed had 20 points and freshman guard Bruce Brown added 17 points and eight rebounds.
“They were the aggressors the whole game,” Abu said. “They hit first and set the tone and we didn’t match it.”
N.C. State, which had averaged 96 points per game the past four wins, started 3-of-17 from the floor and fell behind by eight points in the first 8 minutes.
After squaring the game at 24, with a steal and a layup by Smith at the 7:32 mark, N.C. State let Miami go on a 14-4 run.
The Hurricanes got 15 points from Newton in the first half and 12 from Reed. The Wolfpack defense couldn’t keep Newton from getting to the basket and repeatedly lost Reed, Miami’s primary 3-point shooter, on screens.
Smith and forward Omer Yurtseven (five points) looked like freshmen playing in their first ACC game on Saturday. Smith was coming off of a 19-point, 16-assist game against Rider on Wednesday. He figured out pretty quickly the Hurricanes were serious upgrade from the Broncs.
N.C. State missed its best chance to get back in the game after Smith grabbed his own rebound and made a tough putback to cut Miami’s lead to 50-41 at 13:10. Smith was fouled on the play but missed the chance for the three-point play when he missed the free throw.
Sophomore guard Anthony Lawrence then made a trio of plays in a key sequence to salt the game away for Miami. Lawrence grabbed one of 17 offensive rebounds for Miami at the 11:23 mark and made a layup.
On N.C. State’s next possession, Lawrence drew a charge on Abu. Lawrence then scored on a driving layup to stretch Miami’s advantage to 54-41 at 10:09.
The Wolfpack had just 11 assists on 21 field goals, after racking up 26, 18, 25 and 19 in the previous four blowout wins.
Miami also had a 41-33 advantage on the glass and outscored the Wolfpack 40-16 in the paint.
“To win at this level, there’s a whole other level of execution that you have to have on both ends of the floor,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “That’s the biggest thing for me we have to learn how to do and we better learn quick.”.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
▪ Saturday was the first time Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State have all lost their ACC openers on the same day. (They all lost their openers in 2013-14.)
▪ This is only the second time Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest have all lost ACC games on the same day (Jan. 11, 2014).