No. 21 Florida St. cruises past sloppy NC State
RALEIGH, NC -- Florida State (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) is turning Tobacco Road into its own personal driveway.
The Seminoles beat North Carolina State 76-62 on Saturday, and that gave them victories against all four of the state's Atlantic Coast Conference schools in the same season for the first time.
Ian Miller scored 17 points, Bernard James had 12 and Okaro White and Michael Snaer each finished with 10 to help Florida State (19-7, 10-2) improve to 4-0 against North Carolina's four highest-profile programs.
The Seminoles will go for the sweep next Thursday when Duke (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) makes a return trip to Tallahassee.
"We're not from Tobacco Road where everyone pays attention to basketball," Snaer said. "There's an added emotion. You're up here, and you want to win every single game. All of the North Carolina teams are very strong, so talented, and we want to take the challenge."
They never trailed, shot 49 percent, led by double figures for the entire second half, held NC State to 29 percent shooting -- its worst of the season, by far -- and forced 17 turnovers. That helped Florida State win its third straight and remain atop the league standings.
C.J. Leslie scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack (18-9, 7-5), but the rest of the team combined to shoot 9 of 44 in their second straight loss with both coming to nationally ranked teams in the span of fewer than 48 hours.
"We have to accept the fact that if you want to play in the greatest show on Earth, then you better toughen up and you better man up, pal," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "There is no other way to look at it. Teams that get to play in March are mentally tough enough to withstand most things, and they fight their way through it. ... We're not there, and we've got to get there."
And making the day even more miserable for the Wolfpack, ex-players Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani -- whose jersey numbers hang in the RBC Center's rafters -- were ejected from behind the scorer's table with about 6½ minutes left by official Karl Hess.
Hess declined comment several times when approached after the game by an Associated Press reporter. ACC associate commissioner Karl Hicks also declined comment to ESPN.com's Andy Katz.
Corchiani tweeted roughly 40 minutes after the game that Hess "didn't like fact Googs and I told him he was having a bad day, inconsistent, (and) telling the truth."
Said Gottfried: "I don't have any idea what happened there."
NC State athletic director Deborah A. Yow said the school has asked the ACC for clarification about the fans' ejections.
"I have spoken to Commissioner John Swofford and Karl Hicks, Associate Commissioner for Basketball Operations, regarding our concerns and our need for clarification as to why this occurred," Yow said in a statement released by the school. "We expect fair treatment of our fans at State athletic events."
Yow also said the ACC would issue a statement Saturday night regarding Hess' decision and the school would have no further comment until that time.
The Seminoles, who haven't lost in Raleigh since 2006, have their defense largely to thank for their latest win here.
They entered allowing teams to shoot just 37 percent -- second-best in the ACC -- and clamped down on an NC State team that makes nearly 47 percent of its shots. Much of the Wolfpack's offense came from the free throw line, where they were 25 of 31.
Florida State outscored NC State 18-9 during an 8½-minute stretch of the second half, with White's tip-in with 10 minutes to play making it a 20-point game for the first time at 57-37.
The Wolfpack cut it to 12 three times, the last on Leslie's free throw with 4:25 left. Florida State then re-established its comfortable lead by reeling off seven quick points, with Miller's layup making it 70-51 with 3½ minutes to play.
The win was especially sweet for Miller, a native of Charlotte who finished one point shy of a career high.
"Being from North Carolina, it's a big thing" to conquer Tobacco Road, he said. "Not a lot of teams have done that. I'm loving it."
Lorenzo Brown had 12 points and Richard Howell added 11 rebounds for NC State, which hadn't shot worse than 36.8 percent this season, against North Carolina (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP).
Leading scorer Scott Wood, who averages 13.2 points, finished with eight on 1-for-10 shooting while hitting his only field goal with about 6 minutes left. Gottfried said he thought Wood might have gotten tired.
"You will never see Scott Wood go 1 for 10 again," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.
This game matched two teams that were on the opposite ends of comebacks last time out. Florida State rallied from 15 points down with 15 minutes left to beat Virginia Tech on Thursday night. A few hours earlier the Wolfpack took a 20-point lead with 11½ minutes left against Duke, only to allow the Blue Devils to storm back for a 78-73 win.
"As a team, we didn't come. We weren't mentally there," Leslie said. "That's very important that, as a team, we be on the same page. We all weren't on the same page, and we didn't come out and act like we wanted to win this game."
It also marked the midpoint of a brutal stretch for NC State, which in a six-day span was playing all three teams that shared the ACC lead. The Wolfpack host the Tar Heels on Tuesday night.
Early on, Leslie found a way to produce some offense but didn't get much help from his teammates. He hit five of his eight shots in the first half for 12 points -- but the rest of the Wolfpack was a combined 1 of 21 in the half.
Miller's 3 with 8 seconds left in the half put Florida State up by double figures for good, making it 37-26 at the break.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- Karl Hess
- Ray Natili
- Brian Dorsey
2022-23 Atlantic Coast Conference Standings