Those bookend 30-plus point humiliations at the hands of Virginia and Duke were bad. But for the young N.C. State basketball team, the most telling of its ACC losses to date came sandwiched between the two – on Jan. 15 at Wake Forest. That’s not meant to be a putdown of the Deacons. Rather, it’s a statement on how the Wolfpack’s offense came to a screeching halt when star forward T.J. Warren fouled out with 2:47 remaining.

It was if everyone just stood around staring at one another, wondering what to do without the ACC’s leading scorer on the court. In more graphic terms, State had become version 2.0 of last year’s cellar-dwelling Virginia Tech, a team that had few if any offensive options beyond league Player of the Year Erick Green.

The comparisons became even more dramatic Monday, when with Warren relegated to the bench by a sprained left ankle, the Wolfpack shot only 22.2 percent, missed all eight of its 3-pointers and mustered only 20 points in the first half at home against Maryland. Then, without warning or explanation, something remarkable happened. After going 1 for its first seven from the floor and falling behind by 11 to start the second half, coach Mark Gottfried’s young team finally came to the realization that it didn’t have to rely solely on Warren to put the ball in the basket.

Point guard Cat Barber started attacking the rim. Shooting guard Desmond Lee began turning defense into offense, big man Kyle Washington decided that it’s okay to shoot every now and then, and small forward Ralston Turner channeled his inner Scott Wood to hit five 3-pointers over the final 14½ minutes. The end result was a remarkable comeback that saw State shoot 56.7 percent in the second half and roar from behind for an improbable 65-56 victory against the Terrapins.

“Everybody just stepped up to the challenge and elevated their game,” Lee said. “It means we’ve got other guys that can actually play. All of us are here for a reason. It’s not just about T.J. Warren. If he goes down, everybody has got to step up and play.”