Smith, Gonzalez lead N.C. State past Miami
CORAL GABLES - Tracy Smith could withstand the pain in his right knee if it meant a North Carolina State victory. The Wolfpack suffered a scare when Smith, the team's leading scorer, favored his knee after a collision with Miami's Durand Scott late in the Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday. Smith went to the bench, but returned on the next dead ball to help lead N.C. State to a 71-66 win over the Hurricanes. Smith and Javier Gonzalez each scored 19 points to lead the Wolfpack. "My knee is a little sore, but the win helps take a lot of the pain away," Smith said. "We were hungry to get this game. It's very tough to win an ACC game on the road. I couldn't get up at the time I got hurt. When I went to the bench and felt everything was in place for me to return."The Wolfpack (16-13, 4-10) took the lead for good on Dennis Horner's two free throws with 1:10 left for a 64-63 advantage. Gonzalez converted six free throws in the next 35 seconds to secure the victory. "My concentration the last 4 minutes is as if I'm a new player," Gonzalez said. "Coming down the stretch and getting this win is huge." North Carolina State has won two straight conference games after snapping a five-game conference losing streak. "This means we're moving up and gaining confidence," Gonzalez said. Scott had an opportunity to tie the game but missed a contested layup with 47 seconds left. "We didn't come out with the type of energy we needed to play the game," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "We were just kind of hanging around." Down by nine early in the second half, North Carolina State took a 57-54 lead on Gonzalez's 3-pointer with 5:06 remaining. But Miami's James Dews hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 59 with 3:32 left. Dwayne Collins led Miami (18-10, 4-10) with 15 points. "We executed well and got the shots that we wanted," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said. "We made free throws, finally, down the stretch. We finished the ball game." Garrius Adams hit three 3-pointers in the first 6:50 of the second half and helped Miami open a 46-39 lead. Scott's reverse layup with a 12:18 left increased the Hurricanes' lead to 48-39. But North Carolina State responded with a 9-2 run in the next 2:25. Farnold Degand's basket with 9:13 remaining capped the run and reduced Miami's lead to 50-48. "I just thought it was a great effort with the guys making plays when we had to, offensively and defensively," Lowe said. "We came down here and really fought." North Carolina State also benefited from three second-shot scoring opportunities off missed free throws during its comeback. "They back-tapped it and our guards were too far back and not where they needed to be to get position," Haith said. "And we didn't have physical enough pop-outs." The Wolfpack led most of the first half until Adrian Thomas' 3-pointer with 5:18 remaining put the Hurricanes ahead 24-21. Thomas' 3-pointer was part of a 11-1 spurt during a 3:55 span. Smith's layup with 2.6 seconds left tied it 30-30 at halftime.