Indeed, after being sat down and only playing 16 minutes against Virginia Tech on Feb. 16, Purvis played a season-low 12 minutes against Florida State and only 20 minutes last Saturday in Chapel Hill. He hadn’t scored double-digits points for five straight games, since the Miami loss on Feb. 2.
Asked how Purvis reacted to his diminished playing time, Wolfpack Head Coach Mark Gottfried drew an analogy for the gathered sports media.
“It would be the same if they said you were going to go cover junior high soccer from now on,” Gottfried cracked. “You’d probably be down in the dumps for a little bit.”
Purvis catapulted out of the dumps Wednesday night against Boston College. Although again not in the starting lineup, the freshman scored a career-high 21 points to the lead N.C. State past the Eagles 82-64 for the Wolfpack’s 20th win this season. Purvis’ 21 points supplants his previous best of 19, also scored against Boston College on January 5.
Equally as impressive as Purvis’ point output was his offensive efficiency. Coming in shooting only 42 percent, Purvis went 8-11 from the field against the Eagles and converted 4-6 free throws.
After the game, Purvis spoke candidly about his diminishing playing time and what he’s learned from that experience.
“The last few weeks have been really, really tough for me,” Purvis said. “But never did I get down on myself. I stayed in the gym at nights and tried to strengthen myself mentally.
“I wasn’t playing well, so there was really no need for me to be in the game. Coach Gottfried gave me a chance and I would go out there and miss layups and things like that, so I deserved to sit on the bench. I learned from it, and it was humbling for me.”
According to Gottfried, tonight’s performance was a product of that learning experience.
“[Purvis] started for a lot of games and we changed the lineup,” Gottfried said. “That’s not a fun thing to do when you’re that guy. He has responded in a positive way, he’s practiced really hard … and when you work hard like he has good things start to happen for you.”
After Boston College scored the game’s opening basket, a 3-pointer from Lorenzo Brown gave the N.C. State a lead they never relinquished. Still, the Wolfpack saw a 16-point first half whittled down to just three as halftime approached. However, a leaning 3-pointer from Scott Wood gave N.C. State a six-point advantage at intermission, a lead that grew to nine thanks to another Wood 3-pointer at the start of the second half.
Five Wolfpack players scored double-digits, including Wood’s 17 points off five 3-point field goals. Wood now has 312 3-point field goals for his career, one shy of Jason Williams for eighth in ACC history and 10 behind Rodney Monroe for the most in N.C. State history.
Lonnie Jackson led the Eagles with 16 points, also off the bench. However, Jackson only scored five second-half points for an Eagles team that shot 39 percent for the game. Meanwhile, Purvis scored 16 points in the second half, including nine over a decisive six-minute span. The Wolfpack netted a blistering 65 percent from the field after intermission. N.C. State dominate inside, outrebounding Boston College 39-25 and outscoring them 46-22 in the paint.
N.C. State is one of five ACC teams with no more than one loss at home this season. Indeed, the top six teams in the conference mirror the top six home records in the league.
After losing four of five games, N.C. State (20-8, 9-6 ACC) has now won four of their last five heading into the regular season’s stretch run, which only has three games remaining. The Wolfpack travel to Georgia Tech this Sunday to face the Yellow Jackets before returning to Raleigh for a return match against Wake Forest next Wednesday.
For Gottfried, the reports of N.C. State’s death were greatly exaggerated.
“The sky’s not falling. We’re still swingin’”