While ACC powerhouses Duke and North Carolina can withstand losses to Georgia Tech, North Carolina State can hardly afford losing to one of the league’s bottom three teams.
Trying to improve their NET rankings and go on a late-season roll, the Wolfpack seek their 11th home win of the season Saturday when they host Georgia Tech in Raleigh, N.C.
North Carolina State (14-7, 6-4 ACC) enters with a NET ranking of 80 and moved up four spots after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 74-68 win over Miami on Tuesday that improved its home record to 10-2.
After continuing their streak by shooting well under 40 percent in losses at Virginia and Syracuse, the Wolfpack shot 48.1 percent for their second-highest percentage in a conference game this season.
“We just wanted to stay the course and drive the ball when the shot is not going in,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said afterward. “I thought we really shot the basketball well tonight.”
Keatts started four guards, DJ Horne, Jayden Taylor, Michael O’Connell and Casey Morsell, who each played over 32 minutes and combined for 59 points.
Horne scored 24 points after shooting 36.8 percent (14-of-38) during the losing streak.
Georgia Tech (10-11, 3-7) is attempting to put together consecutive wins for the first time since winning four straight Dec. 9-22.
The Yellow Jackets’ three conference wins are by a combined eight points and they snapped a three-game slide with Tuesday’s 74-73 home win over North Carolina by overcoming an 11-point deficit as well as an eight-point gap in the final five minutes.
Naithan George hit the go-ahead basket over North Carolina big man Armando Bacot with 7.7 seconds left, and Ebenezer Dowuona defended R.J. Davis’ attempt with two seconds remaining to secure Georgia Tech’s first regular-season win over a top-three foe since March 3, 2004.
The Yellow Jackets also won despite losing second-leading scorer and top rebounder Baye Ndongo for the final 35-plus minutes due to a head injury that could prevent him from suiting up Saturday.
“This was about as big of a team win as I’ve ever seen,” coach Damon Stoudamire said. “I’m proud of each and every one of them that was on the court, they all delivered in their own way.”
–Field Level Media
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