If there is a silver lining in N. C. State's last-second, tip-in loss to Miami, the Pack's second such loss on the season, it is the emergence of Tyler Lewis, who had 16 points to go along with a 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while spelling the injured Lorenzo Brown. In seven of N. C. State's nine ACC games the Pack's opponent has scored at least 56.9% of its points in the second half; this fact strongly suggests that the Pack's thin bench is causing a gassed squad to give up an abnormally high total of second-half points, thus also losing leads late in games. Lewis's contribution against Miami may give Mark Gottfried enough faith in the freshman point guard to give him significant minutes even after Brown's return, boosting the thin rotation and perhaps helping the Pack stave off the second half swoon.
The most egregious example of State's collapsing trend is the game against Wake Forest; Wake put up 51 points against the Pack after intermission. The half is the Deacons' highest scoring 20-minute session of the season and accounted for 59.3% of their scoring for the game. Wake's second-half surge allowed it to erase a 12-point halftime deficit and win by two.
The Hurricanes put up 45 second-half points to erase a six-point halftime deficit and win by one. Miami scored 57% of its points in the second half, and Miami's after-intermission output was its sixth best scoring half of the season overall and second best in 16 halves of ACC play.
Virginia, behind the strength of tallying 58.6% of its points after intermission, outscored the Pack by 10 after the break to win by three. Though the Pack played one of their best overall defensive games, holding Maryland to 51 points, the Terps tallied 56.9% of their scoring in the second half. One more stop could have netted State a win in all of the above games.
Clemson scored 58.1% of its points in the second half, outscoring the Pack by four, and State was very fortunate to escape with victory. Boston College managed 45 second-half points in Chestnut Hill, 61.6% of its total output, and again State was very fortunate to escape with victory. The Eagles have managed more than 45 points in a half just twice this season. North Carolina scored a ridiculous 68.7% of its points after intermission, and UNC's 57 points was its third best half of the season (second if you don't count the good Hawaiian Catholics from Chaminade). Again...
Yes, the Pack hung on to win some of these games, but too often a gassed six-man rotation has faded down the stretch, letting games slip away in the final seconds or nearly doing so. Something has to change. Whether it is giving more minutes to Lewis, Jordan Vandenberg, or even a walk on (#freejevoni), or dialing back the pace of the game in order to catch a blow, the current trend cannot continue.
With tough road tests coming against Duke and Clemson, N. C. State could well be 5-6 in league play a week from now, and then the conversation shifts from what seed to expect in the NCAA tournament to whether or not the Pack can expect an invitation at all.