The Canes found themselves as underdogs to open their conference slate, as the 18th-ranked Wolfpack brought a 12-1 record into the Watsco Center. Their lone loss was a 4-point defeat to #22 Wisconsin on 11/27. NC State also brought depth that would appear to trouble Miami’s 7-man rotation, as Coach Kevin Keatts’ squad typically runs 10-deep.
Despite the Wolfpack’s distinct advantages, Miami played a near-perfect first half, committing only 4 turnovers despite averaging over 12 per game coming in, and turning the Wolfpack over 9 times in the same time frame. Still, NC State was even with or ahead of the Canes for the majority of the opening period, until Chris Lykes sparked a 17-2 run to close the half by drawing 2 offensive fouls on the opposing backcourt, and then using those extra possessions to get to the basket on multiple occasions. Lykes led the Canes into the break with 13 points, and Anthony Lawrence II and Zach Johnson both contributed 10 points apiece. Miami led 45-37, which was the first time NC State trailed at the half all season.
NC State came out of the intermission firing on all cylinders, but the Canes were able to withstand the early flurries of 3s from their opponent by continuing their efficient play on the offensive end. The Wolfpack wouldn’t let up, however, and used an 11-0 run to retake the lead 75-74 with 6:38 left in the game. NC State’s leading-scorer coming in, Torin Dorn, struggled all night (7 points), but sophomore guard Devon Daniels started taking advantage of the Canes’ tired legs with some tough drives to the basket.
Miami’s lack of depth reared its ugly head in the latter stages of the game, as the Canes struggled to find any offense, scoring only 8 points in the final 10 minutes. Multiple Canes could be seen suffering cramps, and NC State took advantage by winning every hustle play. Miami allowed NC State to pull down 20 offensive rebounds, punctuating the Canes lack of frontcourt depth. This allowed the Wolfpack to pull away for good, securing the 87-82 win.
Chris Lykes set a new career-high with 28 points, and Zach Johnson joined him crossing the 20-point barrier with 21 points off of the bench. Ebuka Izundu recorded his 5th double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Markell Johnson led the Wolfpack with 20 points off of the bench along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Devon Daniels put up a strong line of 19 points and 8 rebounds, Braxton Beverly pitched in 11 points and 6 assists. and CJ Bryce nearly notched a double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
The Canes will try to return to the win column Sunday at Louisville, with tip-off scheduled for 6:00pm ET. NC State hosts UNC on Tuesday evening.