The fatigue in Garrius Adams’ voice was evident. It’s one thing to try to defend T.J. Warren, but Adams and his Miami teammates also spent the evening trying to deny Ralston Turner 3-point opportunities as well. And to no avail whatsoever.
Turner, the N.C. State guard shook off all the attention, running the Hurricanes ragged off baseline screens, torturing them with pump-fakes and repeatedly creating space for step-back 3-pointers.
“We were chasing him off all the ball screens,” said Adams, an Apex native who played at Middle Creek High. “He did a great job of getting shots, pump-faking and getting guys off their feet and hitting those shots. Those were good shots for him. We were on him, on his back, the whole time, though.”
Warren, the ACC player of the year, is going to get his buckets. When Turner comes along for the ride, N.C. State is a pretty tough team to beat. If the Wolfpack needed him to put away a 67-58 win over the Hurricanes on Thursday, he’ll be even more essential in Friday’s ACC quarterfinals rematch with Syracuse.
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Warren finished with 24 points, which is almost a down effort the way he has been scoring lately. Turner was right behind him with 22, going 5-for-8 from 3-point range. Those two scored 32 of the Wolfpack’s 37 points in one stretch, including the beginning of a 12-0 run that sealed the game after Miami took a late 53-51 lead.
“I think that’s huge, because like I’ve said many times before, he’s a great player but he can’t do it all,” Turner said. “The main thing for the rest of us is, we have to provide him with some help.”
It was only the third time Turner has cracked the 20-point threshold this season and his best scoring performance since the Warrenless win over Maryland on Jan. 20. Only a 6-for-8 outing against Detroit early in the season was better from long range.
Coming off three straight single-digit games, he picked a good time for a scoring outburst. The Hurricanes did not make it easy.
“It was very tough,” Turner said. “Every time we’ve played them, they’ve done a pretty good job of staying close to me. I just had to try to find opportunities to score other ways, because I knew they’d be latching onto me. I knew it coming in. I expected it. The main thing for me was to look for other ways to score.”
After avenging a disappointing home loss to Miami in the wake of the overtime loss to North Carolina – “They stole one from us at home,” Warren said – the Wolfpack now has the opportunity to avenge a different kind of heartbreaking loss.
N.C. State gets a second shot at Syracuse on Friday, and the Wolfpack will need another big game from Turner to get past the Orange.
It’ll be a different kind of challenge, because Miami chased Turner off every screen and used all kinds of zone and junk defenses on Warren and Turner, including triangle-and-two and box-and-one at times.
“Teams have done that to us a lot,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “Syracuse isn’t going to do that. They’re going to play their normal zone, and we’ve seen enough of that, too. We should be ready for that.”
In the controversial and narrow loss at Syracuse, Turner was 3-for-8 from 3-point range for 13 points. Warren will need more help than that from Turner if the Wolfpack is going to beat another shade of Orange.