Dennis Smith, Jr.’s fantastic freshman season became historic Wednesday.
The NC State point guard became the first player ever to record two triple-doubles in ACC play in a season by recording 13 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists, but it wasn’t enough to protect a 16-point second-half lead as the Wolfpack fell to Syracuse, 100-93, in overtime at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
Smith’s feat, as noted by Patrick Stevens, is actually more incredible than a single-season achievement. No other ACC player had recorded two triple-doubles against fellow ACC opponents in an entire career.
That put Smith in rarified air. It’s a level of air he just invented, actually.
He accomplished it in a game with a wild ending that featured dueling-3s from the Wolfpack’s Maverick Rowan and Syracuse’s John Gillon that forced the game into overtime.
Gillon may have actually had a more impressive night that Smith, even if Smith’s statistical quirk and NBA draft stock make his evening a bit more notable.
The 6-foot senior scored 43 points on 10 of 13 shooting, including an incredible 9 of 10 from beyond the arc and 14 of 14 from the free-throw line. He added nine assists and four rebounds for good measure.
That allowed the Orange to erase a 16-point deficit with just over 8 minutes to play in the second half. It was Syracuse’s third-straight win and their first on the road all season long.
But to return to Smith.
Everyone is aware of Markelle Fultz toiling away for a non-tournament team at Washington, but Smith has been similarly brilliant while playing for a Wolfpack team that has struggled throughout much of this season and is now 3-7 in conference play.
Coming into the night, Smith was averaging 19 points, 6.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. HIs first triple-double came last month when he put 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists on Virginia Tech in a 104-78 win.
He’s lived up to his billing as a top-five pick, even if NC State is yet to make an impact in the ACC.
Whatever happens the rest of the way for NC State, Smith’s spot in the record book – and at the top of the lottery – is secured.