BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Just when it all seemed to be coming together for N.C. State — the teamwork, the toughness, the second-half offense – it all fell apart.
The Wolfpack, winners of six of its previous eight games, couldn’t score, didn’t defend, and ended its season with a 72-52 blowout loss to UAB in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament on Saturday.
In-so-doing, State squandered the opportunity to try to avenge two regular-season losses to rival North Carolina. Instead, the second-seeded Blazers (25-8) advance to play fourth-seeded Tar Heels on Tuesday at Bartow Arena at either 7 or 9 p.m. EST; the time has not officially been set.
The Pack (20-16) trailed 6-0 early, but even a timeout by coach Sidney Lowe didn’t help matters.
It got behind by double figures within the first seven minutes, didn’t reach double figures until 6:32 remained in the first half, and managed to shoot only 24 percent before halftime, when it trailed 37-17.
Pack freshman Scott Wood made his team’s first 3-pointer of the game to cut it to 37-21 early in the second half, but State couldn’t get anything consistently going, particularly on offense.
With 9:22 left, Lowe picked up a technical; the free throws gave UAB a 52-30 lead.
Dennis Horner led the Pack with 23 points; UAB’s Elijah Millsap finished with 27.
It marks an abrupt end to what had been a solid late-season run for the Pack. Not only did the Wolfpack win three of its last four regular-season games, it won their first two in the ACC tournament to earn an NIT bid.