State Now

Wolfpack tough to figure but keeps coming back

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried talks with Cat Barber during the first half of the Wolfpack's game against Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried talks with Cat Barber during the first half of the Wolfpack's game against Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson. ehyman@newsobserver.com

If you don't have a handle on N.C. State yet, with only one regular-season game left, don't feel bad.

You're not alone. Ralston Turner, the Wolfpack's fifth-year senior, is right there with you. Turner scored 23 points on Tuesday night to lead N.C. State to an important 66-61 road win at Clemson.

It was the latest in N.C. State's "one step forward, one step back" dance routine.

"I don't think I'll ever figure us out," Turner said. "I don't think anybody else will either."

After a disastrous loss at Boston College on Saturday, in an even poorer performance than the 79-63 final score indicated, N.C. State (18-12, 9-8 ACC) was able to bounce back against a tough Clemson team on Tuesday.

The Wolfpack used a decisive 25-3 run, and held Clemson without a field goal for more than 14 minutes, to get back on track for a fourth straight NCAA tournament bid.

Turner was instrumental in the second half with 21 of his game-high 23 points. But to Turner, N.C. State's inconsistencies are just as confounding as they are to the fans.

The same Wolfpack team that knocked off Duke, North Carolina and Louisville — the last two on the road — lost at home to Clemson, at Wake Forest and at Boston College.

"We are the definition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we are all over the board," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said.

With N.C. State, it does all seem to come out in the wash.

"It's not OK but it is what it is," Turner said. "We still have another game, let's see if we've learned anything."

N.C. State clearly learned from the Boston College loss that it needed to play better on defense.

Boston College shot 56.8 percent on Saturday and scored 79 points. The Tigers shot 29.9 percent and only had 33 points until Gabe DeVoe made a 3-pointer at the 3:26 mark of the second half.

DeVoe went on to score 18 points over the final 3:26 to cut into what was a 16-point N.C. State lead.

Donte Grantham made a 3-pointer for Clemson at 17:46 and then the Tigers didn't make a field until DeVoe's first 3.

"I thought our defense won the game for us," Gottfried said.

And on offense, N.C. State made 50 percent of its shots in the second half and 37 percent (17 of 46) for the game. After shooting 32.8 percent against Boston College, anything would have been an improvement.

Turner heated up in the second half, making a pair of 3s after Clemson took a 30-24 lead. Turner scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half and was 4 of 8 in the second half from the floor and 10 of 13 from the free-throw line.

"Ralston made some shots and it loosened everything up for our team," Gottfried said.

Even Gottfried's not quite sure what to expect on Saturday in the regular-season finale with Syracuse. He said the team couldn't put a big win at UNC behind them but was able to recover from a bad loss at Boston College.

"We've had ups and downs and been all over the place but they keep coming back with a great attitude," Gottfried said.

"I like our team, I really do. We just have to keep getting better."

Better and more consistent.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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