Syracuse was undeniably the nation's best team a month ago, but what a difference the past month has made.
The Orange escaped with a one-point victory over North Carolina State on Feb. 15 to remain unbeaten. One day short of one month later, the seventh-seeded Wolfpack wasn't about to allow that to happen again Friday. They held on to beat No. 2 seed Syracuse 66-63 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
The game ended with an amazing sequence in which Syracuse managed to get off six shots thanks to five offensive rebounds. None of them went in and NC State advanced to the semifinals with an improved NCAA tournament resume and hope still alive of wrecking dreams of other teams by stealing the league's automatic bid.
ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren led the Wolfpack with 28 points and eight rebounds.
Syracuse will go into the NCAA tournament with serious doubts dogging it thanks to the Orange losing five of its last seven games after starting the season 25-0 overall and 12-0 in the confernece. Syracuse started its first ACC tournament game in woeful fashion missing 20 of 27 shots in the first half.
Shooting has been a problem over the past month for the Orange but not to the extent it was Friday. NC State held the Orange to just 32.7 percent shooting in the game. Obviously the Orange are going to need to fix that problem and get back to playing the kind of basketball they did through the first 31/2 months of the season to advance in the NCAA tournament.
That appears easier said than done.
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