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NC State running out of time to turn around ACC slide

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The season is getting away from North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack entered Atlantic Coast Conference play with the potential to mature into a scary March matchup. Instead, North Carolina State is near the bottom of the league, losing by lopsided margins and creating uncertainty about the future of sixth-year coach Mark Gottfried entering Wednesday’s rivalry game against No. 10 North Carolina.

“I don’t know that I’d ever use the word desperate,” Gottfried said after Tuesday’s practice. “I don’t think there’s any question your backs are pinned up against the wall. We’ve been there before, since I’ve been here. But in the past our teams have always played its best basketball at the end. We’ve always done that.

“Now, we’re running out of time and we’ve got to do it and it’s got to happen for us.”

No one expected this from the Wolfpack (14-12, 3-10 ACC). N.C. State had an overhauled roster that included the addition of potential one-and-done point guard Dennis Smith Jr., but the team picked to finish sixth in the 15-team ACC is ahead of only one team in the standings – a Boston College squad that beat the Wolfpack last month.

More alarming is the way N.C. State has gotten there.

There was a 107-56 loss against the league-leading Tar Heels (21-5, 9-3) in Chapel Hill, the second-worst margin of defeat in program history. A 25-point loss at Louisville. A 24-point loss at Florida State.

And last weekend, there was an 88-58 loss at bubble team Wake Forest, an ugly afternoon that included senior center BeeJay Anya jawing multiple times with heckling Demon Deacons fans behind a nearby baseline.

Afterward, Wake Forest’s Keyshawn Woods added a stinging critique that the Demon Deacons “knew if we got up early on them, they was going to quit.”

On Tuesday afternoon, UNC point guard Joel Berry II echoed that even as he tried to say Wednesday would be a tougher matchup.

“We can’t go out there and think they’re going to lay down like they laid down the first time,” Berry said.

N.C. State has lost four games by at least 24 points for the first time since the 1993-94 season after having just three such losses in Gottfried’s first five seasons combined.

“We’re there to compete and we’re going to compete tomorrow, too – no matter what anybody says and anybody on the outside,” sophomore Torin Dorn said. “We’re worried about in-house and fixing the things we need to fix and being focused for the game.”

Offense generally hasn’t been a problem, and Smith has been a brilliant individual talent who has become the first player in league history to have two triple-doubles in conference play in the same season. He was dominant with 32 points in the Wolfpack’s 84-82 win at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 23, the program’s first win in the famously hostile building since 1995.

But N.C. State hasn’t won since, losing five in a row.

The biggest culprit for N.C. State’s troubles has been defense. It ranks 216th nationally in KenPom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings (106.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), the worst in the ACC and better than just five teams from power-5 conferences.

Gottfried inherited a program that had missed the NCAA Tournament in the 15 of 21 years since the Jim Valvano era, then got the Wolfpack to four straight NCAA bids – including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances. But last year’s team stumbled with a shorthanded roster, and this year’s descent seems to be picking up speed with only five ACC games left.

“That’s been a tough thing for us at times, where we allow adversity to kind of steamroll us and it gets worse,” Gottfried said. “And that’s happened too many times. And in those games where we’ve had lopsided losses, at the end of the day that’s my responsibility.

“We’ve got to figure out how to get our team more consistently to handle adversity.”

 

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.