After opening the game with 30 minutes of very sloppy basketball, the NC State men’s basketball team managed to mount a comeback and retake the lead in the second half before eventually falling short to Miami 64-59.
Despite committing 12 first-half turnovers, the Wolfpack (6-3, 2-2 ACC) managed to take a narrow one-point lead into the half. The Pack was able to clean it up in the second half, committing just four additional turnovers, but the team shot only 35.5% from the floor, including three-for-11 shooting from deep.
“I don’t think it is a lack of urgency,” said head coach Kevin Keatts. “What we talked about is, 12-noon games are tough games. The team that walks in and is really ready to play, I think every team is prepared to play, but whoever can find the energy at the beginning of the game is typically the team that is going to win the game. Not that we did not have energy, we just could not find the rim offensively.”
With four players in foul trouble, the Pack’s one-point lead did not last long into the second half, with Miami (5-5, 1-4 ACC) taking the lead within the opening three minutes of the second half.
Even though it lost the lead and momentum was clearly in Miami’s favor, the Wolfpack managed to stay within striking distance and eventually took the lead back with around 10 minutes still left to play.
Like Miami, the Wolfpack was not able to extend its lead and the Hurricanes kept it close, pulling ahead with just under two to play and holding the advantage for the remainder of the game.
Redshirt senior Devon Daniels played a big part in the Pack retaking the lead in the second half, scoring nine in the second half after only putting up two in the first. Redshirt senior forward D.J. Funderburk and redshirt junior guard Thomas Allen both also scored in double digits with 12 and 14, respectively, the latter of which was a season high for the transfer.
“I don’t think any of our main guys played good basketball today,” Keatts said. “I thought they were all just OK. We didn’t have that guy that played well. When you look at the stat sheet, of course Thomas Allen had 14 and D.J. had 12, and it looks like Devon had 11, but I don’t think any of those guys played great.”
The 16 total turnovers are higher than the team’s season average of 12.5 entering Saturday’s game, but the Pack has struggled to hold onto the ball in its last five games (including Miami), averaging 16.4 over those games.
“That is something we have to figure out,” Keatts said. “We have lost the turnover battle, which is tough because we typically don’t lose that. When you look at us tonight, we had 11 assists and 16 turnovers. We have got to get in practice and really work on ball security. That was something that we concentrated on the last couple of days. That is what we talked about going into the game. It is so many guys doing it that we all have to do a better job in that area.”
After starting ACC play with wins over UNC-Chapel Hill and Boston College, the Pack has lost its last two by narrow margins against a very solid Clemson and underperforming Miami team that was missing two of its best players. While it kept the score close in each of those games, narrow margins separate good teams from great teams.
“Sometimes teams come in and they are a little more aggressive than you,” Funderburk said. “They came to punch the clock at 12 o’clock today, we didn’t. It’s just as simple as that. It doesn’t mean that they’re tougher than us, but in this game yeah, that’s what happened.”
One of the lone bright spots for the Wolfpack was its ability to rebound. The Pack outrebounded the Hurricanes 38-30 overall and 16-7 on the offensive side. If NC State can clean up its turnover issues and keep this level of rebounding, the Pack has the ability to win these games.
The Pack’s next game will be on Jan. 13 at Florida State. The game is set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the ACC Network.