Quick hits from NC State's 67-59 loss to Wake Forest in front of 14,255 fans at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sunday night.
Play of the game
There were two signature moments in Wake Forest's win, and both involved thunderous dunks by the Demon Deacons. The first came with the Deacons holding an early 18-13 lead in the first half. Wake Forest freshman wing Ari Stewart misfired on a three, but senior center David Weaver grabbed the offensive rebound, and before coming down he managed to throw down a reverse dunk. That was part of a 12-2 run that turned a 16-13 game into a 28-15 Wake Forest lead with 8:25 left in the first half.
NC State trimmed that margin to four with 14:31 left in the game after a three-pointer by senior forward Dennis Horner made it 42-38. Wake Forest responded with a quick 6-0 spurt over the next two minutes, culminating when 6-foot senior point guard Ishmael Smith, blocked 6-9 Horner's layup attempt from behind, controlled the rebound, raced up court and fed sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu for an alley-oop dunk.
Player of the game
Aminu had the impressive stat line of 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win, but the player of the game was Smith. His quickness broke down NC State's defense too many times. Smith finished with 10 points and a game-high seven assists versus just two turnovers in 38 minutes. He also had four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
Smith vs. the bigs
One of the big questions NC State was going to face, was could they get by with the 6-foot-8 junior power forward Tracy Smith against taller defenders. Wake Forest boasts one of the tallest frontlines in the ACC, led by 7-0 senior center Chas McFarland. Smith finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, but he also fouled out, and was only on the court for 23 minutes. That is over seven points below Smith's season average of 18.3 points per game coming into the contest.
NC State's other big men also struggled. Horner had just eight points and four rebounds. Off the bench, freshmen center DeShawn Painter and Jordan Vandenberg combined for zero points, three rebounds, two blocks (both by Vandenberg) and six fouls in 16 minutes. It was Vandenberg's first action since playing three minutes against Northwestern Dec. 1.
Wood breaking out of slump?
One of the few positive developments for NC State from the game could be that freshman wing Scott Wood may be showing signs of breaking out of what he called the worst shooting slump of his career. Wood made just 1 of 4 three-pointers, but he was 4 of 8 overall from the field, and he made two long jumpers that were just inside the arc. He finished with 11 points, a career-high.
Wood had been just 1 of his last 16 on threes coming into the game and 4-of-23 shooting in his last four contests.
The other biggest positive from the game was junior guard Javier Gonzalez's flurry to end the game. With Wake Forest leading 58-44 with 6:44 to go in the game, Gonzalez personally outscored the Deacs 11-5 over the next four minutes to keep State's glimmer of a hope alive. Gonzalez finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists but also four turnovers in the game.
NC State arrived in Winston-Salem on Saturday for the game. Perhaps they played in the snow a bit too much. The Triad area was hit with about seven inches of snow in some parts, and the grounds outside the LJVM were still covered in the white stuff.
NC State was just as cold inside the arena during the game. The Pack made just 21 of 62 shots from the field for 33.9 percent. That ties the Northwestern contest for the second lowest shooting performance of the season. State shot 33.3 percent in a win over Auburn Nov. 22.
The Pack was just 6 of 21 on three-pointers and a paltry 11 of 19 from the line for 57.9 percent. Neither team shot well however. Wake Forest was just 3 of 11 (27.3 percent) from long range, 12 of 23 at the line (52.2 percent) and 26 of 61 overall (42.6 percent).
The loss in numbers
NC State is now 131-99 against Wake Forest all-time. The Pack continues their struggles in the LJVM, now just 4-17 all-time there and 37-26 in games played in Winston-Salem. The Deacs have now taken five of the last six at Lawrence Joel. Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe drops to 4-3 against the Deacs.
NC State's ACC opener record fell to 31-26. They are 14-18 when the openers are on the road. Lowe is 0-4 in ACC openers, all of them on the road.
Other stats of note
• Wake Forest out-rebounded NC State 48-40, 18-17 on the offensive glass, and they owned a 20-15 edge in second-chance points. • Wake Forest dominated in the paint in general, 40-24. • Both teams had 16 turnovers, with seven of Wake's coming from Aminu. Wake had a 16-14 advantage in points off turnovers. • Both teams had eight blocked shots, four of Wake's coming from Weaver. • Wake had 10 steals compared to seven from NC State, and four of the Pack's came from Horner. Wake Forest also had a 12-4 edge in fast-break points. • The Deacs' reserves out-scored State's bench 15-7.