Wake 86, State 75
I mentioned in my preview that Wake is the best team in the ACC at getting to the free throw line, and they didn't disappoint. Check it, yo:
Wake FTA/FGA: .857 (42/49)
State FTA/FGA: .240 (12/50)
That's nearly double the Deacs' season average. The huge FT differential allowed Wake to win the game fairly comfortably despite the fact that NC State shot 56% for the game. The Wolfpack did everthing they could to come back from a sixteen point halftime deficit, but they couldn't keep Wake off of the line (reminded me of State's home loss to FSU...the only way the Noles managed to stave off the Wolfpack in the second half was by getting to the stripe).
The game had about 65 possessions, meaning that NCSU had to deal with another impressively efficient performance from its opponent. Wake's offensive efficiency for the game was 132 (State's was 115, which would be good enough to win on most nights...just not this night).
The Wolfpack also turned to ball over a lot (20 for the game), but free throws were undoubtedly the difference. The Demon Deacs were 35-42 (83%) from the line, so not only did they have a ton of extra attempts, they also converted them at an impressively high rate.
There's really no way a free throw discrepancy like this (or like we saw in the Virginia Tech/Duke game a while back) should ever happen in an ACC game, especially in a game that features two teams with relatively (RELATIVELY, mind you) close talent levels; sure, on any given night one team is probably going to commit more fouls than the other, but margins like 42-12 suggest that one team is doing something radically different than the other. I didn't see that tonight.
NC State is more perimeter-oriented than most teams; even so, the Wolfpack came into the WFU game having attempted one more free throw than its opponents in conference play. So State's offense has kept it competitive with the rest of the ACC with regards to free throw attempts, and it's not like the team did anything different against the Deacs.
Or maybe Herb said, "Guys, let's not draw any fouls tonight, okay? I mean, do we really need shots that are only worth one point? Now, you, you and you [points to Cedric Simmons, Engin Atsur and Tony Bethel]--I want you guys to channel your inner Damon Thornton and hack like you've never hacked before. If we can give Eric Williams enough boo boos, I'm bettin' he'll run crying to the bench."
Hey, you never know.
It's not getting any easier for the Pack--they're off to Atlanta.
When will the hurting stop?