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January 25, 2010

Quick hits from NC State's loss to Maryland

Quick hits and notes from NC State's 88-64 loss to Maryland in front of 17,950 fans at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., Saturday evening.

Play of the game

Maryland came ready to play Saturday night and led by 10 on two occasions in the first half, the second of which came at 3:47 left on a fast break layup by Maryland junior wing Cliff Tucker to give the Terps a 33-23 lead. NC State though battled back, and after a rare first half basket from junior power forward Tracy Smith, State trailed just 37-33 with 37 seconds left in the first half. That's when the Pack had a lapse in judgment.

With Maryland content to hold for a final shot in the half, NC State junior point guard Javier Gonzalez decided to aggressively defend Maryland senior guard Eric Hayes near half court. Gonzalez though was too aggressive and whistled for a foul with 11.8 seconds left. Hayes, who had made 24 of 27 free throw attempts this year entering the game, swished both shots. Smith rushed a shot on its next possession when he had more time on the clock than he probably realized, and fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand was called for a loose ball foul on Hayes with 2.3 seconds left in the half. Hayes once again made both free throws, and the Terps led 41-33 at halftime after Gonzalez's long heave rimmed out.

Maryland scored the first five points of the second half on a put back by senior forward Landon Milbourne and a three-pointer by senior guard Greivis Vasquez, and NC State never was within single digits again for the rest of the game. The two late first half fouls on the sharp shooting Hayes put the Pack in a halftime bind they never escaped.

Player of the game

Vasquez only scored two points in the first half, but he was in total control of the game and had four assists with just one turnover in the first 20 minutes. Then in the second half, Vasquez stepped up his game. He made 6 of 8 shots, including all three of his three-point attempts, and he finished the contest with a game-high 19 points to go with five assists and just two turnovers in 31 minutes. Vasquez now has 15 straight double-digit scoring games to his credit. He is just 153 points shy of becoming the sixth Maryland Terrapin to score 2,000 in his career.

Ugly

Bottom line: Maryland dominated this game, especially behind an impressive second half performance. The Terps made 16 of 24 second half shots, including 4 of 6 three-pointers. Maryland finished the game with a shooting percentage of 53.7 percent, the first time this year that a Wolfpack opponent had made more than half its shots. The Terps made 6 of 13 three-pointers for 46.2 percent, the second highest mark allowed by State this year.

The 88 points were seven more than the previous high allowed by the Pack when State topped Florida State 88-81 in Tallahassee. It is only the second time this year State allowed a team to score more than 80 points on them.

Offensively, NC State shot just 36.4 percent from the field, making just 24 of 66 attempts, including an atrocious 10 of 36 effort in the second half (27.8 percent). State made just 6 of 20 three-pointers. Smith had a hard-earned and relatively quiet double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. He made 6 of 9 shots, but Maryland effectively double-teamed him most of the game. Much of Smith's production came when the game had been decided. Smith's nine shot attempts was just the fifth time this year Smith had attempted less than 10 shots in a game.

The 24-point margin of defeat is the first time this season that State lost by double digits in a game. The margin also represented the largest defeat for the Pack since then No. 1 UNC won by 31 points in 2008 in Chapel Hill.

Good to see you again

Because of the lopsided nature of the loss, freshman center DeShawn Painter and redshirt sophomore forward Johnny Thomas saw action at the end of the game. Painter played four minutes while Thomas was on the court for three. For Painter, it was his first action since the Florida loss. Painter's spot in the rotation has been taken by freshman Jordan Vandenberg.

Thomas' playing time has been so limited that he no longer has a bio page in the game notes issued by NC State's sports information department. This was just the third time Thomas has played in a game this year, and his first since New Year's Eve against UNC Greensboro.

Now where were you?

Several Wolfpack performers did not play up to their recent performances. Freshman wing Scott Wood was sidelined with foul trouble and played just 26 minutes, his fewest playing time since seeing 23 minutes against Elon Dec. 17. Wood finished with just six points, only the second time in eight games he has been held in single digits.

One game after scoring 20 points and seemingly breaking out of his slump, senior forward Dennis Horner made just 1 of 5 shots for four points and added a pair of rebounds.

Degand had scored in double digits in four of his previous five games, but he was held to just five points Saturday night on 2-of-10 shooting. He did have a game-high six assists with just one turnover, but his shooting woes were emblematic of the type of night NC State was having.

Gonzalez did score 13 points, but he was 5-of-14 shooting doing it, and he had a team-high four turnovers with no assists.

In fact, the only Wolfpacker that may have had a decent night besides Smith at the final horn was freshman power forward Richard Howell. He had 10 points and seven boards off the bench in 24 minutes.

What the loss means

Maryland has now seized the lead in the all-time series, 73-72. Maryland is 21-5 in the last 26 games of the series. The Terps are also riding a six-game winning streak against NC State, and Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe remains winless against Maryland. The Terps have won the last three games in College Park by an average of 19.3 points. NC State is 2-4 in the young Comcast Center, and just 2-18 in their last 20 games in College Park.

Maryland head coach Gary Williams improved his coaching record to 638-362 after coaching the 1,000th game of his 32-year career that included stops at Boston College and Ohio State before arriving at his alma mater.

Maryland improved their overall record to 13-5 and 3-1 in the ACC. The Terps have played well in January, winning five of six games. Their one loss was an overtime defeat at Wake Forest. Maryland is tied with Virginia at the top of the ACC standings. NC State fell to 13-7 overall and 2-4 in the ACC.

The Pack hosts UNC Tuesday night while Maryland hosts Miami. Ironically both UNC and Miami did not play over the weekend.


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