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Turnover problems plague Wolfpack

Gottfried: "We have to value the ball a little bit better"

Video: NC State head coach Mark Gottfried says the Wolfpack needs to value the ball better as he talks to reporters before the upcoming ACC game with Georgia Tech.
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Video: NC State head coach Mark Gottfried says the Wolfpack needs to value the ball better as he talks to reporters before the upcoming ACC game with Georgia Tech.

N.C. State has turned the ball over more than any other ACC team in conference play.

Volume, 75 turnovers in four games, is enough of a problem for the Wolfpack (12-5, 1-3 ACC) but so are the types of turnovers.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried would like to see his team value the ball better in Sunday’s home (6:30 p.m., ESPNU) game with Georgia Tech (10-6, 2-2).

In Wednesday’s 74-66 loss at Boston College, eight of N.C. State’s 17 turnovers were a result of an errant pass. Five of those turnovers directly led to Boston College points in transition.

That’s 10 free points in an eight-point loss. Gottfried compared those turnovers to an interception in football that is returned for a touchdown.

“Those are worse,” Gottfried said. “It’s like throwing an interception on 5-yard line, a little bit different than fumbling the ball at the 50.”

One example of a “pick six” that hurt the Wolfpack came with 5:08 left in the game on Wednesday. With N.C. State down 63-59, Maverick Rowan had an errant pass to guard Dennis Smith Jr. on the perimeter that Boston College guard Ky Bowman stepped in front of and stole. Bowman took the ball the length of the court for an uncontested dunk.

North Carolina, which forced 26 turnovers in its 107-56 win over the Wolfpack last Sunday, made several plays on the perimeter just like Bowman’s. Notably, forward Kennedy Meeks stole a pass to the wing by Smith at the 16:06 mark in the first half and took it in for a layup. To compound the problem, Smith fouled Meeks and gave UNC a three-point play.

Boston College guard A.J. Turner had a similar steal and layup for a three-point play in the second half on Wednesday.

But N.C. State hasn’t discriminated in its types of turnovers. The Wolfpack traveled three times, by three different players, in the Boston College loss. There was an offensive foul, two different players going out of bounds with the ball and a rare 5-second violation called on forward BeeJay Anya.

“It’s not one guy, and it’s not one thing,” Gottfried said.

The Wolfpack has averaged 18.7 turnovers in its first four ACC games. It ranks last in the ACC in turnover margin (minus-5.25) and last in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.69).

Georgia Tech, which has impressive home wins over North Carolina and Clemson, uses a lot of zone defense under first-year coach Josh Pastner. The Yellow Jackets have not caused a lot of turnovers in ACC play. In four games, they’ve forced 46 turnovers, which ranks near the bottom of the ACC.

“We can’t be a 17-, 18-, 19-turnover team, especially on the road,” Gottfried said. “I just don’t think you give yourself enough of a chance to win.”

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

Georgia Tech at N.C. State

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh

TV: ESPNU

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