NC State's epic collapse included 31 missed free throws - the most in the Tournament since 1976.


ORLANDO (USA Today) -- "I don't know that I've ever seen anything quite like this."

That was veteran announcer Dan Bonner after N.C. State blew a 16-point lead with eight minutes left thanks to an epic collapse from the free-throw line. It made the infamous 2008 national championship performance by Memphis look like a shooting clinic.

State went 9-21 from the stripe in the final eight minutes, missing shots in every conceivable fashion. The failed conversions kept giving St. Louis life and eventually helped send the game to overtime, where the Billikens held on for a three-point win. For the game, the Wolfpack went 20-37 (54.1%) from the line.

St. Louis won the game in overtime

, 83-80.

Even on the rare occasions when the free throws went in, State still shot itself in the foot. T.J. Warren had one successful free throw wiped out because he crossed the line before the ball hit the rim.

The most amazing part about N.C. State's free-throw brick-a-thon? St. Louis was even worse. The Billikens shot 12-26 (46.2%) from the stripe. That was a lower rate than both their field-goal percentage (48.4%) and three-point percentage (50%). (In comparison, Memphis shot 63% that night in the Alamodome.)

The 31 missed free throws were the most in an NCAA tournament game since 1976.

It's fair to say N.C. State lost because of the free-throw collapse. But they wouldn't have had such a big lead to lose, nor would have had a chance to tie the game late in overtime, if St. Louis hadn't had one of their own.

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