CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — One unwanted string ended, now North Carolina State looks to resume the winning streak it enjoyed earlier in its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
C.J. Bryce scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead N.C. State to an 83-72 victory over Miami on Wednesday night.
N.C. State, which snapped a three-game losing streak, built an 18-point lead early in the second half before Miami rallied with a 16-2 run and twice trimmed its deficit to three points.
Markell Johnson finished with 19 points and 12 assists, while Devon Daniels and Braxton Beverly scored 14 points each for the Wolfpack (15-8, 6-6).
“We had some adversity and we fought through it,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said. “When they cut the lead to three, we found out a lot about our team. These guys got a lot of fight in them.”
Isaiah Wong’s two free throws with 4:33 remaining reduced the deficit to 71-68 before Bryce made a layup and Manny Bates threw down a dunk and it was at least a two-possession game the rest of the way.
“This was big for us,” Bryce said of the Wolfpack snapping the losing skid. “I was telling the guys before the game, we dug ourselves in this hole. It’s tough for us to get out of but we can definitely do it. We have enough talent, a great coach to put it all together.”
N.C. State took the lead for good with a 12-0 spurt midway through the first half. Daniels’ layup with 4:55 remaining capped the surge and gave the Wolfpack a 33-24 lead.
Before consecutive losses to Louisville, North Carolina and Georgia Tech, the Wolfpack had three straight wins over Virginia, Clemson and Miami.
“It’s a good ACC win and it’s a good road win,” Keatts said. “We were able to stop the bleeding a little bit.”
Harlond Beverly scored 20 points and Dejan Vasiljevic added 18 for Miami (11-11, 3-9), which played its fourth consecutive game without leading scorer Chris Lykes. The junior guard, who is averaging 15.7 points per game, is sidelined because of a groin injury.
“We dug ourselves a hole but the guys did a great job of battling back,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We put ourselves in position late, only down three, with the ball on two occasions and didn’t capitalize on either one.”
The Wolfpack used a 9-0 run to build a 44-30 lead with 51 remaining in the first half. Bryce was fouled by Sam Waardenburg and converted two free throws. Technical fouls on Waardenburg and the Miami bench resulted in additional free throws from Bryce and Johnson.
JOHNSON RESPONDS IN THE CLUTCH
Johnson has struggled from the free-throw line, shooting 54%. But the senior guard shot 7 of 8 against Miami and converted six in the final minute to secure the win.
“I’ve been working a lot on my free throws every day,” Johnson said. “It is just now paying off.”
N.C. State forward D.J. Funderburk sustained an undisclosed injury early in the second half and didn’t return. Funderburk, who averages 13 points a game, had scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 games before finishing with two points in 14 minutes against Miami.
“I don’t have what his injury was,” Keatts said. “But I do know that in the game he got hit pretty hard so we decided not to go with him.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack shot 50% from the field and overcame a recent shooting slump. Entering Wednesday, N.C. State had shot 38.7% in its last seven games.
Miami: The road has not been pleasant for the Hurricanes during their first six conference games. Miami is 1-5 in a road schedule that has included losses at then-No. 8 Duke and then-No. 13 Louisville. An upcoming stretch with four of six games away from Watsco Center will determine if the Hurricanes can improve their post-season aspirations.
N.C. State plays the second of its three-game road trip at Syracuse on Tuesday.
Miami concludes its regular-season series with No. 8 Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee. In the previous matchup, on Jan. 18, the visiting Seminoles rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit and defeated Miami 83-79 in overtime.
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