Overtime: it's splendidly superfluous!
The first rule of NC State basketball: why make easy what can instead be made difficult?
For the game, Miami's offensive efficiency was a modest 101. Over their last 11 possessions of regulation, however, the Hurricanes scored 21 points. That's an OFF EFF of 191. Those possessions span the last six minutes--from a 44-56 deficit to a 65-65 tie.
NC State's OFF EFF was 113 for the game, but during those final 11 possessions it was just 82. Of course, the Wolfpack's problems started closer to the midway point in the second half, but I thought the last six minutes were the most interesting.
That stretch of the game was a nightmare of Vanderbilt-esque (fn. 1) proportions; Miami hit shot after shot, and when they didn't get a field goal attempt, they were getting points from the free throw line. I wasn't appreciative of the officiating during this part of the game, but whatever. It doesn't change the fact that a little offensive execution on State's part would have put the game out of reach.
Right at the end, it looked like we'd finally made the decisive play we needed. Atsur drove to the basket and forced Anthony King to help, which freed Simmons right under the goal. Atsur got it to Ced, and for a second he was wide open. As shouts of excitement began to build throughout the bar at which I was watching the game, I stood up in anticipation: Ced's gonna throw this down. We're going to sneak out of here after all. But Simmons (underestimating King's ability to recover, perhaps) decided to lay the ball in, and King got there just in time to deny the shot.
I sat down in disbelief. Of all the painful blows that we endured down the stretch, that one hurt the most. I could feel the enthusiasm drain from everyone in the sports bar.
Naturally, as the Pack headed into overtime, I thought we were toast. Miami scored first, giving the Hurricanes their first lead since some time in the first half. See? Toast.
Gavin Grant hit a big jumper on State's next possession, and that seemed to bring the team out of its lethargy. The sinking feeling began to abate a little after that shot. The guys deserve a lot of credit for putting the last few minutes of regulation behind them...they were not outplayed by Miami in overtime. If anything, the Hurricanes were fortunate to extend the game another five minutes.
As the team prepared for the second overtime, oft-philosophic head coach Herb Sendek offered a bit of encouragement to his huddled players: "Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for 'crisis' as they do for 'opportunity'?"
Ilian Evtimov responded, "Yes--'crisitunity'!"
Acting fully in the spirit of the knowledge just gained, Evtimov hit a three pointer to open the second OT. The rest of the period proved anticlimactic. The Hurricanes had given it their best shot, but they were all out of efficiency.
Predictably, there's a lot of useless postgame hand-wringing about losing a double-digit lead. I'm too tired to care.
1.) I can't even type Matt Frieje without becoming nauseous.