Wolfpack Chops Seminoles, 58-52, in #ACCtourney
March 12, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Scott Wood looked like he couldn't miss – again – against Florida State. Then NC State's star player came through with his biggest basket on a tough night.
And just like that, Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack is making another surprise run in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Wood scored 18 points on six 3-pointers to help NC State beat the Seminoles 58-52 in Friday night's quarterfinals, sending the Wolfpack back to the semifinals for the first time since that memorable run to the championship game in Lowe's first season three years ago.
Tracy Smith added 13 points for the 11th-seeded Wolfpack (19-14), including that critical jumper to beat the shot clock with about a minute left. NC State next faces seventh-seeded Georgia Tech, which upset No. 19 Maryland earlier Friday in the latest addition to an upset-filled two days in Greensboro.
With the third-seeded Seminoles (22-9) out, it marked the first time in 17 years that three of the top four seeds were eliminated before the semifinals and also the first time in tournament history that the bottom two seeds – 12th-seeded Miami is also still alive – have reached the semifinals. Only fourth-ranked and top-seeded Duke is left among the high seeds.
"I've been seeing all the highlights of the games and what it seemed like was all the lower seeds are coming out on top," Wood said. "I kind of didn't want to let them all down. That's just one thing that I noticed and it shows the lower seeds are probably been wanting it a little bit more, and I think that's how it should be."
Wood torched the Seminoles in the first meeting and followed up with another hot-shooting performance against a team that featured the top two vote-getters on the league's all-defensive team. The freshman's six 3s Friday were the most ever by an NC State player in the tournament.
Wood scored a season-high 31 points and hit seven 3s in the first meeting, an 88-81 road win for the Wolfpack in January.
"He's one of the best shooters in the NCAA, I think," senior Dennis Horner said. "When he's hot, he's hot. Unfortunately, Florida State's been on the other end of it."
That first win against FSU was one of three wins against ranked teams for the Wolfpack that hinted at how competitive it could be when things were going well, though its seven-game league losing streak sunk it near the bottom of the ACC standings. But N.C. State finished the regular season strong, then upset sixth-seeded Clemson 59-57 in Thursday's first round.
Now Lowe – yes, he wore that famous red blazer again – and his players are celebrating another big win.
"We've finally started to understand how to play, how we have to win, the things we have to do," Lowe said. "Being patient offensively, we know we have to defend. And then again, just give these kids all kinds of credit of just really believing in each other and playing as hard as they can."
Solomon Alabi scored 13 points for the Seminoles, who never quite recovered after falling behind by nine midway through the second half. It was an unceremonious exit for a team that upset eventual national champion North Carolina in last year's semifinals before falling to Duke in the championship.
"There were a lot of areas where we were just not up to par," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "I thought that each time we faltered, North Carolina State took advantage of it."
Florida State led 30-25 just seconds after the break, but Wood knocked down a 3-pointer to start a 15-3 run that charged up the Wolfpack's fans.
Then Wood caught fire again, answering a basket from Xavier Gibson with a 3 then answering a score from Michael Snaer with a long quick-release 3 that pushed the lead to 46-37 with 13:35 left and sent the Greensboro Coliseum's instate crowd into a roar. But the Seminoles clamped down on Wood and didn't let him score again, while Alabi and Chris Singleton slowed Smith inside to crawl back in the game and get within four with 90 seconds left.
Smith shot just 4-for-11 while matching up with the 7-foot-1 Alabi inside, but his high-arcing jumper with 57.9 seconds left pushed the lead to 56-50 and essentially sealed it. Javi Gonzalez finished with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists for N.C. State.
Florida State shot 33 percent in the second half and missed 15 of 18 3-pointers for the game.