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NC State goes cold in second half, falls at home to UNCG, 81-76

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NCAA Basketball: Penn State at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State got off to a nice start offensively on Saturday despite playing without a suspended Markell Johnson, but the good offense only lasted about 10 minutes. The good anything also only lasted about 10 minutes. UNCG started to heat up from the perimeter and asserted control of the game over the middle 20 -minutes, which was enough to pick up an 81-76 victory.

NC State put together a furious rally in the last couple of minutes to give itself a chance to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining, but it was too late, and one last poor decision cost NC State so much as a shot in the waning seconds. That sequence was indicative of the Pack’s overall performance.

State lost focus as the Spartans rallied from an early double-digit deficit and never seemed to regain much confidence. Poor shot selection in the second half doomed the effort, as State could not keep pace with Greensboro’s well-executed halfcourt offense. As NC State’s offense struggled, its perimeter defense collapsed, leading to numerous open looks from three, and Greensboro took full advantage.

Neither turnovers nor rebounds were there to bail out State this afternoon, and so the cold shooting effort doomed it. NC State needed a guard or two to step up without Johnson in the lineup, and that did not happen. Both Braxton Beverly and Al Freeman struggled from the field most of the day, going a combined 9-26. That’s never going to get it done.

UNCG was simply the better team for the majority of this game, and so it goes. There’s no shame in losing to this team—they’re pretty good—but the poor execution at both ends is disappointing. The Spartans played with better energy most of the afternoon. They profited on some fortunate bounces and NC State left too many points at the free throw line.

This isn’t the last time State will struggle like this, or fail to make any breaks like this. We’re just going to have to live with days like these.