NC State freshman Dennis Smith Jr. did everything he could to stave off a furious Syracuse run in the second half Wednesday. Even a triple-double -- his second on the season, both in ACC play -- wasn't enough to help NC State hold serve on its home court.
The Wolfpack led for more than 22 minutes and were up by as many as 16 points with 8 minutes left in the second half. However, Syracuse caught fire down the stretch and outlasted NC State in overtime behind John Gillon's heroic night.
Three things to know on Syracuse's overtime victory over NC State.
1. Dennis Smith Jr. had a field day: The NC State freshman phenom has been nothing short of extraordinary this season, and he continued his strong play against Syracuse with his second triple double. Before Wednesday, no ACC player had ever recorded two triple-doubles against league opponents in an entire career. Yet Smith has done it within a one-month span.
Only three other players have recorded two triple-doubles in a season.
Three others ...— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) February 2, 2017
Ralph Sampson, Virginia (1979-80)
Derrick Lewis, Maryland (1986-87)
Sharone Wright, Clemson (1992-93) https://t.co/MKLSrsZv1i
Smith finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists. When he wasn't dishing out for his teammates, he was grinding it out down low doing the dirty work. Amazingly, his astounding performance was not enough to lift his team.
Smith wasn't the only offensive player on his team to have a big night. Maverick Rowan scored 31 points, with eight 3-pointers in a second-half duel with Syracuse's Gillon. Terry Henderson added 16 points.
2. John Gillon might have had a bigger day: The catalyst for Syracuse's furious charge, Gillon had an offensive outburst of epic proportions. On a night in which Smith recorded a triple-double, Gillon might have stolen the spotlight. He was 10 of 13 from the floor -- including 9 of 10 from the 3-point line -- and scored 43 points. He also hit the shot that sent the game to overtime. Here's that clutch final second-half sequence (set to "Titanic" music -- you're welcome).
According to Stephen Schramm of the Fayetteville Observer, Gillon's 43-point performance is now the single best offensive performance (in terms of points scored) at PNC Arena. It was a huge night for the point guard that could help catapult his team into the meat of the ACC slate with positive momentum.
3. NC State's NCAA Tournament hopes are grim: The Wolfpack have had some bright spots this season, wins over both Virginia Tech and Duke among them. But they've been wildly inconsistent on the whole with a record-setting blowout loss to North Carolina and already seven losses in ACC play.
This game was a perfect encapsulation of NC State's season. The Wolfpack looked crisp for a majority of the night, taking a 16-point lead late into the second half. Yet a collapse to chuck that massive lead away might leave State fans looking back at this game, wondering what if? It could end up being the loss that crushes the Wolfpack's NCAA Tournament hopes.