TSX: Pack Not Ready for Season to End

Special to Pack Pride
Posted Mar 19, 2010


North Carolina State coach Sidney Lowe was hoping his Wolfpack players would get the opportunity to continue playing after their run in the ACC tournament.

The 'Pack won its first two games and was within a play or two of making it to the championship game for the second time in the last four years before losing by two points to Georgia Tech in the semifinals.

Lowe got his wish when the 'Pack was awarded an NIT trip to Tampa to play South Florida, and the season rolls on after the Wolfpack pulled out a 58-57 win Tuesday.

Richard Howell hit a layup with eight seconds remaining to take the lead, and North Carolina State survived when South Florida's Augustus Gilchrist missed a shot at the buzzer.

Dennis Horner scored a game-high 25 points for the Wolfpack, who also got 14 points from Tracy Smith.

North Carolina State will remain on the road Saturday when it plays at second-seeded UAB. The Blazers earned a 65-49 win over Coastal Carolina on Tuesday.

NOTES
--NC State is making its 12th appearance in the NIT. The Wolfpack is 16-12 in the event with two of the wins coming in 2007, its last appearance.

-- Senior Dennis Horner played in a reserve role in all three games of N.C State's 2007 NIT appearance, going 6-for-11 from the field and scoring 22 points.

-- NC State has held each of its last five opponents to under 60 points. The Pack has won four of the last five games, giving up just 55.4 points a game.

-- The Pack's defense forced its three opponents at the ACC Tournament into 17.0 turnovers a game. Prior to those games, only four of the first 31 foes committed 17 or more turnovers this season.

-- In the Pack's last eight games, the Pack has shot 49.2 percent (96-195) in the second half. During the seven ACC game losing streak, the Pack shot 30.7 percent in those second halves of play.

-- NC State has hit 40.5 percent (119-294) of its three-pointers in the 20 wins, but just 25.8 percent (71-275) in its 15 losses.

KEYS TO VICTORY: If N.C. State can keep the turnovers down, it always has a shot at winning. The challenge on the defensive end will be to keep UAB G Elijah Millsap under control. Millsap had 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals in the NIT opener.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SCOUTING REPORT:
F Tracy Smith is the team's leading scorer (16.9) and rebounder (7.5), but senior F Dennis Horner (11.2) is the only other player averaging in double figures for the Wolfpack. G Javier Gonzalez has his good moments shooting (36.9 percent on 3-pointers) but can be a turnover machine.

Freshman G Scott Wood also can burn an opponent from the perimeter, shooting 37.8 percent from behind the arc. F Richard Howell and G C.J. Williams have been effective off the bench.

ROSTER REPORT:
-- Freshman G Scott Wood likes playing against Florida State. In January, he set his career-high with a 31-point explosion in the Wolfpack's win in Tallahassee. In the ACC tournament quarterfinals, he went off again, scoring 18 points on six 3-pointers in another Wolfpack victory over Florida State.

-- Prior to the Pack's first round game at South Florida, senior Dennis Horner was the only current Wolfpack player to have playing experience in a postseason tournament.

In Horner's freshman season in 2006-07, Horner was part of the Pack team that advanced to the NIT quarterfinals in Coach Lowe's first season. Horner came off the bench in all three of those games, and averaged 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 17.0 minutes. Horner's best game was 13 points in 15 minutes in the home win over Marist.

-- Javier Gonzalez has averaged 10.0 points over the last eight games (six were wins).

QUOTABLES
"They are a very physical team, very good rebounding team. They have one young man, Milsap, who's brother is in the league, and he is similar to him. He can score the ball, he's physical, he's big. Their guards are steady, and they pound you on the boards.

"They have a couple of guys that can put it on the floor, and a couple of guys that can shoot it. They've got a solid ballclub... we're going to have to be ready to play." -- Sidney Lowe on UAB

"We were picked to finish last in the conference, and we finished tied for ninth. I'm sure we were expected to get knocked out in the first round of the ACC Tournament and we were three points away from going to the finals. We won 20 games. We beat six, nationally-ranked Top 25 teams. No one expected that. Not with this young group, the first time these guys were together. It's been, and will continue to be, a fun group because they are together. No one can come between this group. They are very tight, very close." -- Sidney Lowe on this year's team

"It's the way it should be. You've got two guys that won national championships. Two national championships. Their names should be somewhere on this campus. Somewhere. I just firmly believe that. When you talk about the history of NC State basketball, you're talking about Case, who started it all, Norm Sloan, national championship, Jim Valvano, national championship. Their names should be somewhere on this campus. That's the way I feel." -- Sidney Lowe discussing former Wolfpack head coaches Norm Sloan and Jim Valvano

"She's had an unbelievable year. I know everyone knows she's done a great job, and that's on the surface because of where they are right now. But, I don't know if everyone really understands what a great job she did. To take over a program, to have some veteran players that often times, veteran players can have their own ideas... now she's got to try and get them all on the same page, get the young ones with the veterans... that's hard to do.

"In her first year she's in the tournament. It's outstanding."

"It only takes one to screw up everything. It only takes one.. one person on that team to screw up everything. If that one is powerful enough, they can destroy the entire team. She's got them all together, and that's hard to do. I commend her. It's hard to do." -- Sidney Lowe discussing the job done by first-year Women's head coach Kellie Harper



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