Shooting woes continue as N.C. State drops No. 11 Syracuse in ACC tournament

TJ Warren scores 28 as the Wolfpack slips past Syracuse, 66-63, in the Orange's first ACC tournament appearance.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The end seemed so familiar to Syracuse. Down by three points with about six minutes to go, Friday’s ACC quarterfinal against N.C. State mirrored the game played at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 15.

But this time, instead of a phenomenal defensive play resulting in a C.J. Fair layup to win the game, Syracuse missed six shots in the final seconds in a 66-63 loss to N.C. State in Greensboro.

Photo: Halle Sinnott
N.C. State's TJ Warren (24) shoots over Syracuse's Michael Gbinije (0). Warren scored a game-high 28 points.

Syracuse had no answer for the ACC Player of the Year, TJ Warren, who shook off a poor shooting start to lead the Pack with 28 points and eight rebounds.  Warren reached 20 points for the 29th time this season and N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said he was the key on both offense and defense.

“I thought TJ gets a lot of praise for his offense ... but I thought TJ Warren locked in defensively and made every shot that CJ [Fair] took tough.”

Tough is an understatement. Fair missed his first three shots of the game and finished with only nine points on 3-of-16 shooting. Fair wasn’t the only problem, as the team shot 33 percent from the field and made only 18 field goals.

Fair’s corner 3 was probably the cleanest look at tying the game in the final seconds. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be the hero for this one.

“I just didn’t knock it down,” Fair said. “And from there, we were just scrambling trying to get in another opportunity.”

With 15:43 left in the game and the score tied at 35-35, N.C. State went on an 11-4 run that stammered Syracuse, allowing the Wolfpack to take over the game and the coliseum. A fastbreak dunk by Warren with 13:54 left filled the arena with “Wolfpack” chants, and the N.C. State fight song was soon after.

“We’ve got amazing fans,” Gottfried said. “The Wolfpack Nation is strong, they’re loud and opinionated, which is good.”

For Syracuse, the loss is the fifth in the last seven games. Tyler Ennis said that the team knows what issue it needs to address.

“We can’t just wait until we are down nine points and to turn it on, and I think that is a problem that we’ve been having lately,” he said. “We have to be able to count on everybody to play for 40 minutes.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was more optimistic, saying that he thought the team played better than the stat sheet gives them credit for.

“I don’t think that we played that poorly,” he said. “I think we shot the ball badly and it’s hard to recover when you’re not shooting the ball.

“I thought we did everything we could to come back and we tried to get to the basket more, get to the foul line, but we just have not shot the ball well from the 3-point line the whole year.”

Now, as N.C. State fights its way to a potential tournament berth, the Orange’s fate now lies in the hands of the tournament committee. The chance to be a one or two seed in the tournament is gone.

“I’m not concerned about our team, ”Boeheim said. “I think we played well all year ... but, in spite of that, we won 27 games.

“So I am pretty pleased with what these guys have done, and I believe that we’ll be a very good tournament team.”

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