Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2014
GREENSBORO — Ralston Turner gave North Carolina State the reliable second scoring option it needed to advance in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Now Turner and league player of the year T.J. Warren will get another shot at a marquee win to help the Wolfpack’s NCAA tournament chances.
Turner scored 16 of his 22 points after halftime to help N.C. State beat Miami 67-58 in Thursday night’s second round, earning another shot at No. 11 Syracuse in Friday’s quarterfinals in a rematch of a game the Wolfpack lost in a controversial finish last month.
“It’s not about payback,” coach Mark Gottfried said. “It’s about opportunity. And we’ve got an opportunity tomorrow that is golden. Couldn’t ask for a better one.”
Warren finished with 24 points for the seventh-seeded Wolfpack (20-12), who trailed 53-51 with about 4 minutes left before going on a 12-0 run that kept Gottfried’s team alive in the tournament.
Warren was coming off consecutive 40-point games, becoming the first ACC player to do that in more than 23 years. He didn’t come close to that mark this time around, but still finished near his ACC-best scoring average of 24.8 points per game — though the Hurricanes made him work for it.
Meanwhile, Turner seized his chance to help Warren carry the load for the Wolfpack. He went 7-for-12 from the field and 5-for-8 from 3-point range, finishing one shy of tying his career high for scoring.
“When you have a great scorer on your team, he has a tendency to take pressure off the rest of the people,” Turner said. “That gives you an opportunity to try to be aggressive and look for opportunities to help the team.”
Outside of Warren and Turner, the Wolfpack managed 21 points on 8-for-23 shooting. But that was good enough against the 10th-seeded Hurricanes (17-16), who committed 15 turnovers that the Wolfpack converted into 26 points.
“Our intentions were to try to keep their best two players from hurting us,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We played a triangle-and-two the whole second half and they still ended up with 24 and 22, so their offense was better than our defense. And our offense gave them a lot of opportunities to score in transition.”
Warren hit the go-ahead shot during that run at the 2:23 mark, then Turner came up big with a tough 3-pointer over Rion Brown that gave the Wolfpack a 58-53 lead with 1:42 left.
“We were chasing him off all the ball screens,” Miami’s Garrius Adams said. “He did a great job of hitting shots, pump-faking and getting guys off their feet and hitting those shots. Those are good shots. We were on his back the whole time.”
Des Lee’s breakaway dunk ended the run and gave N.C. State a 63-53 lead with 26.3 seconds left, part of a 16-5 flurry to close the game.
That set up the rematch with Syracuse, the tournament’s No. 2 seed. N.C. State lost 56-55 to the then-No. 1 Orange at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 15, committing a late turnover that led to C.J. Fair’s winning layup with 6.7 seconds left. There was also a much-discussed call in which officials waved off a basket from Warren while being fouled with 13.6 seconds left because the foul came before the shot.
Brown scored 22 points to lead Miami, which won the program’s first ACC regular-season and tournament titles last season. But with nearly everyone gone from that group, the Hurricanes weren’t able to make another deep run through the weekend after Wednesday’s first-round win against last-place Virginia Tech.
Both teams shot the ball well after halftime, with the Wolfpack shooting 60 percent (15 of 25) and the Hurricanes shooting 54 percent (13 of 24) after a slow-moving first half.
N.C. State led 51-44 on Turner’s jumper in the lane at the 6:41 mark, but the Hurricanes pushed back with a 9-0 burst. Davon Reed hit a long straightaway jumper then knocked down a 3-pointer over Jordan Vandenberg to give Miami a 53-51 lead with 3:52 to play, though Turner hit two free throws to start the 12-0 burst that changed everything for N.C. State.
With the win, State reached 20 wins for the third time in as many seasons under Gottfried.