Kyle Washington had a moment of honesty and exhaustion Wednesday after N.C. State’s loss to North Carolina.
Washington, who had 17 points in the 81-79 loss to the Tar Heels, was asked about N.C. State’s next game.
“I don’t even know who we play, but I know all the ACC teams are good, and we won’t underestimate anybody,” Washington said.
Florida State (9-8, 1-3 ACC) is the answer to the question. The Wolfpack (12-6, 3-2) will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to take on the Seminoles on Saturday afternoon.
After facing No. 2 Virginia, No. 4 Duke and No. 15 UNC in consecutive games, Washington can be forgiven for being caught up in the moment.
N.C. State might not have a ranked ACC foe on the horizon, but it doesn’t get any easier for the Wolfpack from here. Eight of N.C. State’s next 12 games are on the road, including four of the next six.
Considering that N.C. State is 0-2 on the road this season – a 66-61 loss at Purdue and a 61-51 loss at Virginia – any road trip is sure to be a challenge.
Coach Mark Gottfried’s first three N.C. State teams were a respectable 12-14 on the road in ACC play.
The key to getting back on track in ACC play against Florida State is getting focused. The Seminoles were pegged to be a contender for the NCAA tournament this season but lost guard Aaron Thomas to an academic suspension and slogged through their nonconference schedule at 8-5.
N.C. State talked after the win over Duke and before the loss to UNC about each conference game having the same value in the ACC standings.
If the Wolfpack can’t refocus, it will cost them in the ACC race.
“We need to just drop it and say that’s one loss,” Washington said. “We have to move on and play another good team.”
Moving on from losses has been easier for N.C. State than moving on from wins. The Wolfpack is 5-0 after a loss this season and 6-5 after a win. N.C. State has alternated wins and losses over the past 10 games.
That would be fine for the NBA playoffs, but it won’t be enough to get the Wolfpack into the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
N.C. State is one of seven teams with a winning record in ACC play, but it can’t afford to keep trading wins with losses.
Washington is confident the Wolfpack can become more consistent.
“I believe in our team,” Washington said. “I know we’re going to get there; we just need to be strong mentally.”
Gottfried said after the UNC loss that his team needs to figure out how to put together a complete effort.
The way N.C. State played in the second half, with aggressiveness in the open court and intensity on defense, is how the Wolfpack needs to play from start to finish to pick up wins road.
N.C. State scored 53 points in the second half of Wednesday’s loss but only 26 in the first half. Part of the problem, Gottfried said, was N.C. State’s inability to attack the rim in transition. There were also lapses on defense that have to be corrected, he said.
“There was definitely some good things, a lot of things to build on,” Gottfried said, “but this young group has to learn 40 minutes of a high level of intensity is what it’s got to take.”