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UNC 81, NC State 79: Pack's late rally falls a tip-in short

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Four Factors NC State
eFG% 47.7 59.1
Turnover Rate 14.6
Off Reb Rate 42.9 34.5
FT Rate 33.3 41.8

81 69 117.4 114.5
NC State
79 69 114.5 117.4

NC State needed a miracle against UNC in the final minute and nearly got it, but Cody Martin's last-second tip-in attempt to tie the game flew wide left and the Tar Heels held on for an 81-79 victory. That was the disappointing end to a furious rally by State, which trailed by double figures just ahead of the under-four timeout.

The Pack just needed another big play or two to complete the comeback effort. After falling behind 71-60 with about 4:30 left, State had the ball down 74-71 but Ralston Turner missed the potential game-tying three with about 90 seconds left.

The game shifted to an exercise in exchanging fouls after Trevor Lacey brought State to within 76-74, with Carolina never getting farther than three points ahead. The Heels closed out by making five of their final six free throw attempts, and they opted on multiple occasions to foul State rather than give up a three-point try, which worked out this time.

On State's final possession, Abdul-Malik Abu ended up at the free throw line after catching a home run ball and getting fouled with 0.2 seconds left and the Pack down three. He hit the first, then perfectly missed the second, creating the opportunity for Martin's near-heroics.

Alas, too little too late for the Pack after a sluggish first half. Call that a Duke hangover if you want, but Carolina was doing an excellent job defensively while the Wolfpack didn't seem sure how to attack. Trevor Lacey had a rough time finding scoring opportunities while defended by J.P. Tokoto, and that was a big factor in UNC's halftime lead.

Lacey has hit a lot of tough jump shots this season--so many that we've come to expect them. In the first half, though, that well was dry; when you're taking low-percentage shots, a poor run of shooting like that is going to happen.

While Tokoto was handling Lacey, Cat Barber wasn't doing anything to make a difference, and Turner spent most of the half on the bench in foul trouble. BeeJay Anya's offensive mojo had been put back in its bottle, leaving State with difficult prospects. Offensive rebounds were crucial to keeping the Pack in the game.

NC State's offense started to work more effectively in the second half, but unfortunately, so did Carolina's offense. Marcus Paige had a second consecutive stellar effort at PNC Arena, showing no ill effects from his foot injury on the way to 23 points.

UNC held a significant edge in shooting percentage pretty much all night, and in the end that was enough to give the Heels this road win. I admire the way State was able to rally and make it a tight finish, but man, I'm tired of admiring stuff that's not, you know, a win. Curse your stupid excellence, Roy Williams!