N.C. State has made it a habit to play well after a loss this season. Saturday’s 56-55 win at Miami was the latest example of the Wolfpack’s ability to bounce back from a loss.
But there’s one catch with that pattern, as junior guard Ralston Turner pointed out before the Pack’s trip to Miami.
“It would be nice to keep playing well and then not have to bounce back,” Turner said.
N.C. State (15-8, 5-5 ACC) will try to put together a second straight ACC win on Tuesday night with a visit from Wake Forest (14-9, 4-6).
The Wolfpack has gone 6-2 after a loss this season. One of those defeats, 70-69 at Wake Forest on Jan. 15, came in the final seconds.
Otherwise, N.C. State has shown what coach Mark Gottfried calls a “spirit” and the resolve to answer a subpar performance with a good one.
The Wolfpack did win three straight ACC games at home at the end of January. But even those games featured a split Wolfpack performance – one bad half, one good half.
Gottfried knew consistency would be an issue for such an inexperienced team this season but the Wolfpack has shown signs of making progress.
Turner has come on in ACC play as a second scorer to sophomore T.J. Warren. Turner had 17 points, and made four 3-pointers, in the Wolfpack’s win at Miami, to support Warren’s 27. In the past five games, Turner has averaged 13.6 points, compared to 9.0 in the first 18 games.
Sophomore point guard Tyler Lewis has helped the offense run more smoothly. Lewis started for freshman Cat Barber on Saturday after Barber had been sick and missed some time in practice the previous week.
Lewis played 27 minutes at Miami, the most he has had in an ACC game this season, and had three assists. Barber played 13 minutes and also had three assists. At the end of the game, Gottfried used Lewis primarily on offense and Barber for defensive situations.
Lewis has played more in ACC games, after a stretch in December where he played double-digits in minutes only once in a five-game span. Barber’s minutes at Miami were a season-low and only the second time this season he played less than 20 minutes. As he has all season, Gottfried reiterated on Monday, he needs contributions from both point guards.
“For us to be good, they both have to be ready,” Gottfried said. “We need both of those two guys to play at a high level.”
Wake, which has been off since a 20-point loss at Duke last Tuesday, has had its own issues in the backcourt. Sophomore Codi Miller-McIntyre didn’t play against Duke and missed the second half of a 79-70 home loss to Georgia Tech on Feb. 1 with an ankle injury.
Miller-McIntyre, who scored the game-winning basket in Wake’s earlier win over State, told the Winston-Salem Journal he hopes to be able to play against the Wolfpack but coach Jeff Bzdelik said his leading-scorer was a “maybe” for the game.
The Demon Deacons have lost three straight and four of six since the last-second win over the Wolfpack.
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