NC State junior wing Scott Wood is considered one of the top shooters in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but prior to the game against Miami he was mired in a horrid shooting slump.
In the previous five games, Wood had hit 7-of-38 shots from the field (18.4%) including just 6-of-27 (22.2%) from 3-point range. State was 1-4 over that stretch and lost four straight, clearly missing Wood's perimeter production as he led the team in scoring before the recent funk.
"It was tough," said Wood. "The last two weeks I've felt like it was all my fault. I've been in the gym working hard, my family has been talking to me about it. I did it for the first three-fourths of the season, but I just hit a little lull there.
"In a couple of the games I was more worried about the defender and getting a call, but the main thing is I need to cut hard. If I cut as hard as I can I'll probably get open."
"With Scott, we're just a different team when he hits baskets," said Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried. "We have a different feel about ourselves.
When he's open, we need his shooting. I don't know that we can go away from him all together and say, hey, because we're a different team when he scores 10 to 15 points a game, much different. So we need him to step forward."
Wood step forward on Wednesday night, but early on it looked like he might not break out of that slump.
He opened the game by knocking down his first attempt, a deep 3-pointer from the wing that gave the Pack a 5-2 lead, but he would miss his next three attempts, and it left Gottfried wondering what to do with his shooter.
"He missed a couple early, he had good looks early too, open shots," said Gottfried. "To be honest, I thought in my mind what do we want to do here because he has struggled lately.
"At the same time, he is a great shooter and he just needed to make a couple. If he makes a couple everything will change for him, which I thought it did."
Wood hit his next two 3-point tries in the first half, and seemed to have his confidence back. Perhaps more importantly, it enhanced the confidence his head coach had in him, which showed in the game's closing minutes.
Miami tied the game at 69 on 3-pointer by Malcolm Grant with 1:36 remaining, and the Wolfpack called a 20-second timeout. In the huddle drew up a set that he hoped would free up Wood, who came off a terrific screen by Richard Howell to hit a contested 3-pointer that put State up for good at 72-69 with 1:08 left in the game.
"His 3-point shot late in the game across from our bench was huge," said Gottfried. "He came off a great screen by Richard and shot the ball with tremendous confidence. I was glad to see him kind of get back on track."
"The initial play was to get C.J. and Richard down low and then Richard set a really good screen," added Wood. "I got a good look and knocked it in."
Because of the threat he poses as a shooter, it is hard to take Wood off the floor. He opens up the paint for State's interior players and always commands attention from his defender, but he hadn't been hitting shots and wasn't contributing in other areas either, which Wood, who also grabbed five rebounds, said after the game a family member pointed out.
"My dad called me the other day and said if you're going to suck at least do some other things good," he stated. "So I was trying to contribute on the defensive end, grab a couple of rebounds, make a couple of assists."
Wood finished the game 5-of-11 from the field and 5-of-10 from behind the 3-point arc, totaling 15 points and providing the outside shooting that State has lacked during its four-game losing streak.
"I'm thankful they started to fall."