DURHAM – N.C. State sat solemnly on the bench as the time wound down on another conference blowout.
This one felt self-inflicted for the Wolfpack.
On Saturday, there was no overlooking the harm N.C. State brought upon itself, turning over the ball 21 times in its 95-60 loss to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke finished with 33 points off turnovers.
N.C. State had two.
“We turned the ball over too many times. We’ve gotta, obviously, be a lot stronger with the basketball,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfreid said. “They took turnovers and turned them into baskets, which was the biggest difference in the game.”
N.C. State was able to control the glass early in the game and it shot a respectable 14-for-30 from the field in the first half, but turnovers overshadowed everything positive.
The Wolfpack turned over the ball 15 times in the first half alone, which led to 23 Duke points.
N.C. State’s drought at Cameron Indoor Stadium will reach 20 seasons after Saturday’s loss. The last time the Wolfpack won at Cameron came on Jan. 18, 1995, and Duke now has won eight of the past 10 in the series.
The current version of N.C. State, Gottfried said, isn’t doing a good enough job of handling difficult circumstances.
“We have to learn how to handle pressure,” Gottfried said. “Obviously with us right now, we have eight scholarship guys, and I think (Duke) smelled blood in the water. They went after it. They did a nice job of keeping the heat on us all day.”
Saturday was just the latest in a strange year for N.C. State. The Wolfpack beat Notre Dame on Jan. 7 in South Bend, Ind., a win that gave hope to many Wolfpack supporters. It has since lost three straight since the victory.
The Wolfpack lost on a late basket against Wake Forest earlier in the week and were blown out at home by Virginia on Jan. 11. The past three games, Gottfried said, showed his team simply must improve to be competitive in the league.
Saturday’s loss dropped N.C. State into a tie for last place in the ACC.
“We just gotta get better,” Gottfried said. “It ain’t fun. Our guys, regardless of whether we’re young, old, we just gotta figure it out.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com