Wednesday night on the road, NC State was blown away from start to finish against Florida State, losing 105-73. The Wolfpack only led for 32 seconds during the game in what was its third straight loss.
The 32-point loss was the largest in the four years that NC State head coach Kevin Keatts has been in Raleigh. What makes the loss worse is the fact that the Seminoles had not played in 15 days due to COVID-19 contact tracing within the program.
“Give Florida State a lot of credit, I thought they were incredible tonight,” Keatts said. “Probably the best team we have played in our early season so far.”
The whole night NC State struggled defensively, especially against RayQuan Evans and M.J. Walker, who had 24 and 19 points, respectively. On the boards, NC State was outrebounded 32-19.
Early on, it was all junior forward Jericole Hellems for NC State, scoring eight of its first nine points. However, the Seminoles started off hot from downtown by making their first three shots from the 3-point line, giving them a slight edge. It was only a small lead, but it grew exponentially as the first half progressed.
Besides Hellems, the Wolfpack struggled offensively throughout the first half. Hard-nosed defense from Florida State, then quick ball movement on offense led to a 24-4 run for the Seminoles. This run led to the Wolfpack being down 25 points in the first half.
Things did not get better for NC State as it continued to struggle against the hot Florida State offense. As a whole, in the first 20 minutes, the Seminoles shot 71.4% from the field, including seven made 3-pointers. At the intermission, Florida State led by what would be an insurmountable 57-32 score.
“[Florida State] shot the hell out of the basketball,” Keatts said. “They made us pay for every mistake that we made.”
The Seminoles, who had their way with the basketball, had 10 different players register points in the first half. Florida State also scored 10 points off seven Wolfpack turnovers while the Wolfpack could not convert any offense off four Seminoles turnovers.
The only bright spot in the first half was a transition dunk on two defenders from freshman guard Shakeel Moore.
In the second half, it was more of the same for Florida State, as it made nine of its first 11 shots. This ended any chance the Wolfpack had at a miraculous comeback.
NC State continued to battle as the second half preceded but could never slow down the Seminoles offensively. Florida State excelled from the field in the second half just as it did in the first, shooting 70%.
Despite the horrendous loss, NC State did have three players in double figures scoring, led by redshirt junior guard Thomas Allen off the bench with 16 points. Redshirt senior guard Devon Daniels and Hellems were also in double digits with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Wolfpack was without redshirt sophomore forward Manny Bates, who missed the game with an ankle injury. Florida State is the tallest team in the ACC, so Bates, a player that averages three blocks a game, was significantly missed in Tallahassee, Florida.
“It takes a full squad; it takes a full Pack,” Daniels said. “When we’ve been working as a whole group then come game day we can't play with our full group, it definitely affects us, but we have to get around that. We have able, willing players that are able to step up and at the end of the day, we have to do that.”
NC State will look to end a three-game skid and win its first game of the calendar year Saturday, Jan. 16 at PNC Arena against Georgia Tech. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip with the game being televised on regional sports networks. Follow @TechSports on Twitter for live updates.