CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — After a modest first half, T.J. Warren came up big for NC State in the second half.
Warren, the ACC’s leading scorer, scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half to help lead NC State to a 56-55 win over Miami on Saturday afternoon.
“T.J. in the second half I think offensively was spectacular,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. “He had a will to help his team win that I thought was tremendous.”
Warren picked up two fouls in the first half, which limited his playing time, but came out strong after halftime making 5 of 9 shots and 9 of 10 from the free throw line to nearly out-score Miami on his own.
“I just tried to make some things happen,” Warren said.
Ralston Turner scored 16 of his 17 points in the first half for NC State (15-8, 5-5), which has won four of five.
“That was kind of a grinder, but it was an important win for us, very important,” Gottfried said. “I’m very proud of my team. I think it was a gutsy tough win.”
Rion Brown’s 20 points led Miami (11-12, 2-8), which dropped to 0-6 in conference home games.
“We’ve put ourselves right on the threshold of victory and we’ve been coming up short,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Miami’s Raphael Akpejiori had a chance to tie the game at the free-throw line with 3.5 seconds left after he grabbed an offensive rebound following a miss by Manu Lecomte, who scored 13 points. Akpejiori, who was 4 for 4 from the line this season, made the first and missed the second.
“Raphael Akpejiori did a great job of getting to the offensive boards. Manu missed the shot, but had Raphael just tipped that in, it wouldn’t have been a foul. We would have just got the bucket,” Larranaga said.
The rebound on Akpejiori’s second miss was corralled by Kyle Washington, who missed both free throws and Brown’s three-quarter heave was well short.
“Luckily they missed it and we snuck out of here with a win,” Warren said.
NC State shot 37.8 percent from the field (17 for 45) including 7 for 20 from behind the 3-point arc and sank 15 of 20 from the free-throw line. Miami, which came into the game shooting under 40 percent from the floor, shot 33.3 percent (17 for 51) for the game and 28.6 percent (8 for 28) in the second half.
NC State led 32-26 at halftime and scored three quick buckets in a 100-second span in the second half to give the Wolfpack their largest lead of the game at 41-32.
But Miami battled back and tied the game at 51 with 1:37 left on a pair of free throws by Brown.
Moments later Warren countered with a pair of free throws for a 53-51 lead.
Lecomte split a pair of free throws for Miami and Warren hit two to push the lead to 55-52.
“The free throws were big for us, I tried to get a little lead off of them and just concentrate when you’re at the line and knock them down,” Warren said.
A 3-pointer was missed by Brown and Lecomte threw the ball away only to recover it after a bad pass by NC State’s Desmond Lee, which bounced right to a wide-open Lecomte for a layup to pull within 55-54.
Turner made 1 of 2 from the line with 9.7 seconds, leaving Miami with a chance to tie the game before Lecomte missed a layup and Akpejiori was unable to sink both free throws giving NC State the win.
“Free throws are very important and we saw it today,” Lecomte said.
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