Anthony Barber did, as always, what he could. It wasn't enough in this 77-73 NC State loss to Florida State. Totaling his third straight 30-point game and almost individually leading the Wolfpack to a comeback win, Barber finished with 31 points on 10-17 shooting. The ESPNU announcers regularly marveled at his quickness and dynamic offensive attack throughout the broadcast.
NC State's sluggish start to the first half and overall lack of defensive intensity doomed them. The final 10 or so minutes of the game was actually exciting to watch with a pace that most fans would enjoy. Existent within this pace, though, was an inability to get enough stops to win the contest. The loss makes NC State 12-11 overall, 2-8 in ACC play. Florida State is now 15-7 with a 5-5 conference record.
The Wolfpack's 2-3 zone defense did temporarily present issues for Florida State, but its effectiveness wasn't consistent enough to cause a come from behind victory. Florida State shot 52.6% for the game compared to a 47.4% clip for NC State, hardly a quality overall defensive showing for the Wolfpack.
The Martin twins had acceptable offensive production - 14 points and 6 boards on 4-8 three-point shooting from Caleb Martin, 10 points on 5-9 shooting from Cody Martin. Cody did, however, have 4 turnovers. The only other player for the Wolfpack in double figures was Abdul-Malik Abu who had 12 points and 5 rebounds.
It was another ineffective shooting game for Maverick Rowan. He only went 1-7 from the field and 1-6 from deep. The Wolfpack also received just a single point combined from Lennard Freeman and BeeJay Anya. The theme of this season, as primarily shown tonight, has been Cat's singular excellence as others have shrunk or failed to step up around him.
For Florida State, guards Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley accounted for most of the damage. Bacon totaled 20 points while Beasley had 15. They went a combined 8-for-8 from the line as a duo. Florida State desperately needed this home win considering their bubble status, and this was well within doubt as Barber and the Wolfpack erased a double digit deficit in a proverbially valiant attempt.
What's baffling is how State went from utterly owning Miami in dominating fashion to beginning the Florida State game with low energy and poor execution. This has been a strange, frustrating season with inconsistency growing into a constant aspect of Wolfpack basketball.
Winning at Pittsburgh, crushing Miami with ease, and at times appearing dangerous as a squad contrasts with laying eggs against teams like Georgia Tech and beginning contests sluggishly such as with Florida State. This loss shouldn't be hugely surprising - Florida State is a bubble team while we're far from it - but expecting to build on the Miami win and play another complete game seemed reasonable.
Next up will be a road matchup at Duke this Saturday, 2/6 at 2:00 PM ET. ESPN will be airing the game.