Marilyn Payne

Pack's poor performance on 'down' day no cause for concern

Posted January 8
Updated January 9

NC State's 107-56 loss to No. 14 North Carolina was out-of-control bad, seemingly from the very start.

"At the end of the day, it was them playing phenomenally well and us playing very poorly," Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried said. "We all watched it and that was a stinker on our part."

UNC (14-3, 2-1 ACC) opened with a 6-0 run, meanwhile NCSU (12-4, 1-2 ACC) missed its first four shots and turned the ball over three times before getting on the board when Torin Dorn put back a Dennis Smith Jr. miss.

Then the rest of the game followed the script of those first two-and-a-half minutes pretty strictly: North Carolina won by 51 points after going on a 20-0 run in each half and shot 49.4 percent from the floor while NC State made just 36.5 percent of its shots and turned the ball over 26 times.

Head coach Mark Gottfried and co-leading scorer Dorn (11 points) both compared the Pack's (whether-delayed) game to bad weather, but NCSU was adamant the poor performance was not a by-product of the change in tip-off time.

"We came out early, we had energy coming out, we thought we were up for the game," Dorn said. "But toward the middle of the first half, it wasn't going our way and it just kind of snowballed down hill. They played a really good game, we just didn't play our best. I don't even know where to begin."

"North Carolina in the first half was just terrific, Roy (Williams) had them ready to play and they made every shot," Gottfried said. "It was just the perfect storm: they were really good and we were as bad as you could possibly be."

Gottfried said he hasn't ever had a team shoot as many air-balls as NC State had in the loss, Williams and his leading scorer Justin Jackson (21 points) agreed they faced the team from Raleigh on an off day.

The display by the Wolfpack was a far cry from the stellar play in the ACC home opener at PNC Wednesday in which the team upset No. 21 Virginia Tech, but Gottfried felt confident after the loss that his unit had no need to panic.

"This is the same team that just played against Virginia Tech, it happens," he said. "You catch teams on a certain day when they're really good and you're really bad. Things happen."

Star point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was cold early, then got into foul trouble when he picked up his third less than halfway through the first half.

Dorn and Gottfried saw that yes, while North Carolina played good defense, NC State also made lazy, impatient and careless passes at times that hurt the Pack's chances to respond to what Terry Henderson called a "beating."

Point blank: the Wolfpack couldn't find its stroke, put the ball in the hoop, or hit the broad side of a barn.

All in all, the competition was absent and the entertainment value of the game was a letdown at the end of a week that proves the meeting could've been so much more contested than it was.

Sunday's showing wasn't one that the team's sixth-year head coach is concerned about, it was an inconsistent game for his young team.

The real test of whether or not Wolfpack fans aught to be worried for their team will come when it heads to Boston College for the next contest. a bad game happens, but a team that gets down and stays down is far more concerning than one that shows it can respond.

"In this conference, you've got to make sure you don't let a loss linger into the next game and not let a big win linger into the next game," Gottfried said. "We were bad, we acknowledge it.

"Time to move on to the next game."

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