Six days before N.C. State fell 77-63 to North Carolina at the RBC Center, the fortunes were different for the Wolfpack.
In the second half, N.C. State hardly looked like the same team that came up with a 88-74 upset of Duke, then ranked No. 7.
Against the Blue Devils, the Wolfpack shot 58.2 percent from the field and turned the ball four more times than their opponent (18-14).
But N.C. State shot just 39 percent as a team from the field and 29 percent in the second half against North Carolina (13-7, 2-3 in the ACC)..
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“I think it was the shooting,” N.C. State junior forward Tracy Smith said. He noted he had an easier time in the paint against Duke.
Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe was asked if the difference in shooting between the two games could be attributed to emotion of the last six days, which included a road trip to Maryland, who beat N.C. State 88-64 on Sunday.
“I don’t know,” Lowe said. “I mean, it could. I don’t want to think that. ... I think we just missed some shots. I think we had three guys that went 5-for-24. That makes it tough.”
Those same three guys (Farnold Degand, Scott Wood and Dennis Horner) were a combined 10-for-13 from the field against Duke last Thursday.
And while the Wolfpack (13-8, 2-5 in the ACC) tied the Tar Heels in turnovers (10), North Carolina came up with four big steals that helped spark the 22-4 run that was N.C. State’s undoing.
“They got four easy layups,” Horner said. “That gave them momentum. Against a team like that, you can’t do that.”
Was this North Carolina team really that much better than Duke?
“I don’t think so,” Horner said.
Smith was noncommittal when asked if it was clear to him which team, Duke or UNC, was better.
“I think Duke is a very good team,” Smith said. “UNC is a very good team. I think we could have come out and played a little bit better, played the same way we played against Duke and we would have got this win.”