Phil Coale - AP
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Fittingly, the game ended with the ball in Scott Wood's hands. That's where it was won for N.C. State.
scored 31 points, the best by any ACC freshman this season, to shoot
the Wolfpack to an improbable 88-81 win at No. 25 Florida State on
Wood hit seven 3-pointers to lift the Wolfpack to its first ACC win
after an 0-2 conference start. Wood amazed himself with the blazing
shooting performance — 10 of 15 from the floor and 7 of 11 from 3 —
against one of the best defensive teams in the ACC.
"On a couple of shots I took, even I thought, 'Why am i shooting this,' " Wood said. "And then they went in."
leading scorers Tracy Smith, Dennis Horner and Javier Gonzalez, in
equal parts foul trouble and smothered by the Seminoles' overwhelming
size, N.C. State turned to the 3-pointer, hitting 11-of-23, and in
reversal of fortune, the free-throw line.
After missing 10 free throws in an eight-point loss to Virginia on
Saturday, the Wolfpack hit 29-of-35 free throws, including a 10-of-10
effort from Julius Mays, on Tuesday.
Wood, though, there was no lead to secure at the free-throw line. The
lanky 6-7 freshman came in with a reputation as a sharp-shooter but
struggled with his shot in the first month of the season. He made as
many 3-pointers on Tuesday as he did in all of November. He averaged
7.6 points per game before Tuesday's explosion.
"He just had one of the nights when you have to give a guy credit," FSU
coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He stepped up when they needed him to
Wood delivered the two biggest daggers, both 3s, after FSU cut what was a 13-point lead down to four points.
Up 59-55, Wood drained a 3 over FSU guard Derwin Kitchen and then held
up his right hand to accentuate the follow-through after the ball
swished through the net.
next time down the floor, he grabbed an offensive rebound, one of
seven, and drained another 3 for a 65-55 lead with 5:27 left. The Tucker Center crowd groaned after each improbable Wood 3-pointer.
of their defenders were in his face, close enough to kiss him, and he
was still knocking them down," said Pack guard Farnold Degand, who
added 13 points.
Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe marveled at how his team found a way to win
without the usual output from Smith. Just three weeks ago at Wake
Forest, with Smith in foul trouble, and limited to 11 points, the Pack
lost by eight points.
Wood out-scored the Pack's usual source of offense — Smith (seven
points), Horner (eight points) and Gonzalez (five points) — by himself.
Lowe's team found a completely new way to win.
main three guys, didn't have big games," Lowe said, praising freshman
Richard Howell's contributions (seven points, seven rebounds) and
Degand's (13 points).
The strong free-throw performance, especially in the second half
(24-of-28), is what pleased Lowe the most, in light of their recent
struggles from the line, and all the practice time devoted to it.
finished this one," Lowe said. "I'm just glad that all of the work that
they put in, it paid off. It's a great win for our guys."
This time the Wolfpack got to watch the opponent struggle from the
free-throw line (25-of-34) and shoot wayward 3-pointers (4-of-13). The
last 3 bounced off the rim and into Wood's hands.
The clocked melted down and the Wolfpack had its first ACC win.
"You never want to start 0-3 in the ACC," Wood said. "Hopefully we can keep this thing rolling."