I spent the first half of this game complaining about how soft FSU was playing. After getting completely worked on the offensive glass against Duke, FSU came out tonight and gave up more of the same. Stop after FSU stop turned into buckets for NC State as they grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to 12 points. In the meantime, Wolfpack stud TJ Warren was going off, and he knocked down a three at the first half buzzer to cap off a personal 23-point half.
All of those extra possessions created a 39-33 lead for NC State.
In the 2nd half, the Noles came out with some fight. They didn't give up another offensive board for nearly 10 minutes, and Ian Miller gave FSU its first lead of the night on a 3-pointer, 56-54. NC State couldn't seem to miss for much of the half however, so FSU had to score on just about every possession. They did a great job attacking the rim, sending TJ Warren and Ralston Turner to the bench with four fouls.
Over the final 10 minutes there were five lead changes and two ties. Unfortunately for FSU - who entered the game making almost 71% of their free throws - they suddenly got the yips from the line. FSU made just 7-13 free throws down the stretch.
NC State had the ball with 44 seconds left on the clock and a 2-point lead. FSU needed a stop, and then they'd have a chance at OT or a win. They got the stop, but the Wolfpack grabbed their own miss and laid it in. It was just their 3rd offensive board of the half. FSU missed a couple of threes at the other end and the Noles fell 74-70.
Okaro White had 20 points and 7 rebounds. Ian Miller had 17 points and Aaron Thomas had 12.
FSU - at 4-4 in conference - are now at a turning point in their season. Is this team going to stagnate? Are the weaknesses going to keep rearing their ugly heads? Or will FSU dig themselves out of this hole created by terrible rebounding? This is when teams that play well in March make a leap over everyone else, and also when NCAA dreams turn into trips to the NIT. It's their choice.