RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Florida State traveled to North Carolina State on Wednesday evening looking for a victory to help their goal of making the NCAA Tournament.
After what took place in Raleigh Wednesday night, that goal is will be much harder to attain.
Florida State (15-7, 5-6) fell to the 18th ranked Wolfpack (20-5, 9-3) and fell hard, 86-64, as the 'Noles never led at any point during the game.
Leonard Hamilton's squad got off to a rough start as NC State jumped out with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes. However, the 'Noles were able to bounce back and matched the Wolfpack punch for punch for the next 11 minutes and made it it was a closely contested game.
Then, the punches quit landing for the 'Noles as after an Al Thornton dunk at the 6:45 mark that brought the 'Noles within three at 27-24. From that point until halftime, the' Noles failed to score another field goal. In fact, FSU only got three points in that same period, all off of free throws from freshman Uche Echefu.
During FSU's cold shooting streak, NC State went on a 16-0 run to close out the half. Engin Atsur drained a three to begin the rally and was quickly followed up by another three from Andrew Brackman off of an Echefu turnover.
"We turned the ball over twice and then they hit two threes," Coach Leonard Hamilton said. "It seemed to go downhill from there."
In the first half, Florida State committed 14 turnovers while allowing the Wolfpack to go 9-15 (60%) from deep. NC State shot the lights out (14-23 - 60.9%) from the field in the first half while the 'Noles managed to hit 10-23 (43.5%) and a dismal 3-11 (27.3%) from beyond the 3-point line. When the two teams went to the locker room, the 'Noles were down 45-27, their worst margin at the half this season.
"They did a very good job of executing their offense," Coach Leonard Hamilton said. "They knew we would be helping a lot (on defense) and they skipped the ball and spread us out and when they got shots they knocked them down."
In the second half, FSU was never able to put a major dent in the Wolfpack's lead. Despite picking up the defensive intensity, the Seminoles could never put together any type of a run. At one point, the Seminole defense forced three straight Wolfpack turnovers and came up with several stops, but the final result was zero points on the other end. That pretty much summed up the evening for Garnet and Gold.
"I thought we fought, but we just couldn't get anything offensively," Hamilton said. "We had about six straight stops there but we didn't score off of any of those opportunities."
In the end the 'Noles were never able to close the gap to less than 15 points. NC State did not stay quiet for long and went on a run to push the lead back to to 20 with 8:58 left in the game. From there the Wolfpack would never look back.
For the game, NC State shot 28-44 (63.6%) which is their best shooting percentage in an ACC game since 1996. From the perimeter they hit 13-of-23 (56.5%), while FSU on the other hand did not have one of their better shooting nights as they were 22-52 (42.3%) from the floor. The 'Noles also had no answer for NC State's hot perimeter shooting as they shot a miserable 4-18 (22.2%).
"We were not as composed as in other games this year," Hamilton said. "What we have to do is learn from this because we are much better basketball team than we showed and I know we will show that the next opportunity that we get a chance."
Alexander Johnson led FSU but came up just short of another double-double with 15 points and 9 rebounds on the evening. Al Thornton, Florida State's leading scorer, also contributed 14 points but his production came off of 14 shots as he was a main focus of the NC State defense. Back-up point guard Ralph Mims chipped in 11 points.
NC State was led by 19 points from Engin Atsur, including 5-6 on 3-pointers. They also got 14 points on the inside from Cedric Simmons. Ilian Evtimov, another key contributor for NC State, played just 15 minutes before he left the game with a sprained foot.
The Seminoles will now play two consecutive home games as they play host to Virginia on Saturday at 4 p.m., and Maryland next Wednesday at 9 p.m., in the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee.