NC State still searching for first road win after getting torched by North Carolina

Following ugly performance in Chapel Hill, Wolfpack falls to 0-3 on the road with two blowout losses in ACC play

Bob Donnan—USA Today Sports
NC State Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried reacts in the first half at Dean E. Smith Center.

CHAPEL HILL — Icy conditions outside the Dean Smith Center had nothing on NC State’s cold play inside in a 107-56 rout by North Carolina. The catastrophe on Sunday marked the third straight road loss for the Wolfpack in just three true road games on the season.NC State was unable to get back up off the mat after a 20-0 run by UNC early to put it up 26-4 with 11:35 remaining in the first half. That run pretty much summed up the entire game for the Pack from head coach Mark Gottfried’s perspective.”They started off so well and we started off so poorly,” Gottfried said. “Turning the ball over, rushing offensively and we were in a hurry. All of the sudden it goes from six to 10 to 15 and now it’s kind of like an avalanche trying to stop it. We didn’t have enough poise early on.”I look at our first half and I don’t know that we could play worse. I really don’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a team shoot as many airballs in one game.”One game after tallying the first triple-double for NC State in ACC play with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against Virginia Tech, Dennis Smith Jr. had a game to forget against UNC. In likely his lone outing in the Dean Dome, Smith posted three points, three fouls and four turnovers in seven minutes played in the first half. Smith finished with 11 points, five assists and six turnovers. After the game, the freshman admitted the early fouls hurt his team, but was more concerned with his team’s toughness. Terry Henderson said his team would take on a “Bad Boys” mentality against the Heels, but Smith didn’t see it from everyone.”If we want to do the ‘Bad Boys’ thing, we’ve got to have everyone on board and everybody play tough,” Smith explained. “It can’t just be a couple of guys. We’re going to correct that. … The worst case scenario actually happened. It’s only one game, though.”The loss sent NC State to 1-13 in its last 14 games at the Dean Dome, but Sunday’s was historically bad. UNC had only scored 100-plus points against NC State three times previously and the 107 points scored were the most against the Wolfpack ever. It also marked the second-largest deficit in the rivalry, only bested by a 62-10 win for UNC in 1921.When asked whether he liked anything he saw from his team on Sunday, Gottfried kept it simple.”Nope. Nope,” he said. “We were bad. Really, really bad.”In its three road games, NC State has yet to lose by single digits, with the total combined deficit at 82 points after losing by 51 in Chapel Hill. This was against the same UNC team that lost by 12 at Georgia Tech one week earlier.”I thought mentally we were ready to play,” Terry Henderson said. “We’ve been ready and looking forward to this game since yesterday. Then it got postponed. I knew we were ready, but they got hot early. It’s hard to come back from that.”So what does this team have to do to improve on the road?”I really don’t know,” Henderson said. “We’re gonna keep getting better. Going over scouting reports, learning each other’s games and our opponents’ games. … We’re gonna get one.”NC State has three days to prepare for its next road game in Chestnut Hill on Wednesday against a Boston College team that downed Syracuse, 96-81, in its last home game. With little time to get right, Gottfried is convinced his team can rebound the rest of the way in ACC play.”This is the same team that just played against Virginia Tech,” Gottfried said. “It happens. Some teams, you catch them on a day where they’re really good and you’re really bad. I think in this conference, you’ve got to make sure a loss doesn’t linger into the next game.”At the end of the day, it’s one loss. … The sun will come up tomorrow.”