NC State's Mark Gottfried: "I think we were as bad as you could possibly be"
Normally, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried can find one thing he liked from each game, even in a loss, but not a Sunday.
A 51-point blowout tends to leave you at a loss for words. North Carolina embarrassed N.C. State in every possible way on Sunday to win its ACC home opener 107-56.
The Wolfpack (12-4, 1-2 ACC) had more turnovers (a season-high 26) than field goals (23) and was outrebounded 50-36.
It all added up to the most points UNC has scored in the history of the rivalry, which goes back to 1913, and the second-most lopsided loss to the Tar Heels ever.
The only loss that was worse? A 62-10 decision in UNC’s Bynum Gym in February 1921.
There is no wonder then when Gottfried was asked if he liked anything about his team’s performance, he said: “Nope. Nope. We were bad. We were really, really bad.”
It was bad from the start for N.C. State, which was actually coming off its best performance of the season, a 104-78 home win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday. The Wolfpack started 2-of-14 from the field and fell behind 33-7 while UNC made the first of two 20-0 runs.
Freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr., coming off of a triple-double in the Virginia Tech win, missed his first three shots and picked up his second foul at 16:06 in the first half.
Smith picked up his third foul at 10:17, after a collision with UNC wing Theo Pinson while the two were pursuing a loose ball. Gottfried picked up a technical foul from referee Matt Potter after arguing about the call.
UNC led 56-23 by the half and would have only had to score one point in the second half to win the game. As it was, the Tar Heels scored 51 points in the second half to break the triple-digit mark for only the fourth time in the series with the Wolfpack.
It was the first time since a 108-71 loss at Duke on Feb. 14, 2002 that the Wolfpack gave up 100 points in an ACC game.
“They came out and brought it, and we didn’t respond,” N.C. State sophomore Torin Dorn said.
There wasn’t much push back from the Wolfpack with Smith in foul trouble and shots going astray (9-of-30 in the first half).
N.C. State couldn’t take care of the ball and couldn’t defend the 3-point line. The Tar Heels went 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from 3 in the first half while building a 33-point lead.
Justin Jackson (21 points) made six 3s, and Joel Berry (19 points) added three. No one on N.C. State’s roster scored more than 11 points.
A game after going for 27 points with 11 assists and 11 rebounds, Smith finished with 11 points and five assists. He had six turnovers in 26 minutes.
“They’re the home team, and we had to bring our own energy,” Smith said. “We didn’t do that. That killed us.”
That was one problem of many. The positives were more difficult to identify. The only saving grace might be no one got hurt.
“It was the perfect storm,” Gottfried said. “They were really good, and I think we were as bad as you can possible be.”
Gottfried can only hope that is the case.