N.C. State's C.J. Leslie, who was held to two points, leaves the court following the Wolfpack's 87-48 loss to Wisconsin. ROBERT WILLETT - email@example.com
updated: 10:50 p.m.
MADISON, Wisc. -- They missed on jumpers and putbacks, runners and tip-ins. Shots clanked out, swirled out, and out-and-out missed.
By the time N.C. State sophomore Scott Wood’s steal-and-layup connected early in the second half, the Wolfpack had gone more than 10 minutes without a field goal, and they trailed by 31 points. And methodical, sharpshooting Wisconsin easily added another checkmark to the Big Ten side of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, dominating 87-48 at Kohl Center.
“The whole week, we were going on the word ‘war’ – because we knew it was going to be a war,’’ Wood said after the Wolfpack posted its worst margin of defeat since 1998-99, when it lost by 42 points to Maryland. “And I feel like we got hit in the mouth a couple times and backed down.”
Backed down? How about knocked out?
The Badgers shot 50 percent (and 55 percent from the 3-point line) for the game, led by 22 points from Jon Leuer and 21 from Jordan Taylor, and outrebounded the Pack by 11. State, by comparison, shot 31.6 percent. Its heralded freshman class of Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and Ryan Harrow finished a combined 5-for-28; Wood (13 points) was the only Pack player to finish in double figures.
It was an ugly result for State (4-2), which must find a way to recover quickly, as it plays at top-ten-ranked Syracuse on Saturday.
“They played well, they shot well, they executed, and we didn’t,’’ said State coach Sidney Lowe.
Leading 12-11, Wisconsin started to pull away early with a 7-0 run. State committed four turnovers and missed two shots within two feet of the basket during that roughly-three-minute timespan, a sign of things to come.
Then the Pack’s real problems began.
Brown made a layup with 6:36 left in the first half to cut the Pack’s deficit to 29-21. It was the last swish the Pack experienced until Wood’s layup with 16:24 left in the game, which cut its deficit to 52-23.
In between, Wisconsin closed out the first half with a 15-0 run, opened the second half with four more baskets, extending the run to 23-0. In all, State committed seven turnovers and miss 11 straight shots during that 10-minue-plus span.
“We got down seven points, and that’s when they started making their run,’’ Wood said. “ We just get down a little bit, and once we get down, everyone thinks, ‘let me take it upon myself to make up these seven points.’ And there’s no 7-point shot in basketball.”
The game marked a downright offensive outburst for Wisconsin (5-2), which is used to keeping scores in the 50s and 60s, but led 75-37 with about eight minutes left.
Meanwhile, it was an abysmal night for State, which was trying to pick up its offensive pace this season.
The Pack is clearly missing Tracy Smith, its leading scorer and rebounder, who was out for his fourth straight game while he continues to recover from Nov. 19 arthroscopic knee surgery. Lowe said he’s hoping the senior can return in 10-12 days – and his experience and post moves should help. But in the meantime, State has to find a way to consistently score.
“We had a couple shots that were right there – we had two that were on the rim and rolled out,’’ Lowe said of it’s 10 minute, 12 second scoring drought. “just seemed like one of those things, the ball wouldn’t go into the hole.”