It was much too close for comfort, but it's still NC State's fourth conference win.
|Off Reb Rate||32.3||31.6|
What started as though it might end up a laugher ended up being a hard-fought game, as Clemson managed to pull itself together after falling behind 13-2. The Tigers would eventually pull to within three at 15-12, but State was able to stay a few steps ahead throughout the first half. The Pack led by 10 points on several different occasions and went into the break up eight points.
There was no real cause for alarm at that point. But State went cold in the second half, shooting just 38% (eFG) over the final 20 minutes. Clemson, meanwhile, heated up and hit nearly 59% from the field. Thus the teams eventually found themselves tied at 57 with two minutes and change remaining.
And that's when a big sequence allowed NC State to take control of the game and hang on for victory. It began with a Richard Howell and-1, which put the Pack up 60-57. After that, the defense was able to come up with two consecutive stops. That forced Clemson into foul mode, and State did a good job of getting the ball to Wood, who made five of six foul shots in the final minute.
This wasn't enough to completely shut the door on the Tigers, as they had the ball down three with about seven seconds to go. But Rod Hall slipped and lost control of the ball after catching the inbounds pass, and Lorenzo Brown was there to yoink it away. Brown then hit one of two free throws to make it a four-point game, sealing the win.
There were two big keys for NC State in the second half given the shooting disparity: 1) the Pack limited Clemson to a 20% offensive rebounding rate; 2) NC State did not commit a single turnover. If NC State doesn't do those two things, Devin Booker's fantastic performance might just be enough to lead the Tigers to an upset win.
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