The three freshman led all Wolfpack scorers and showed off slick passes, rim-rattling dunks and crowd-pleasing rejections in their RBC Center debut. The freshman helped the Pack overcome a slow start against Tennessee Tech and pick up a 82-69 win in the team's season opener on Friday night.
"Those guys – CJ, Ryan and Lorenzo did a great job," Lowe said. "CJ's energy was unbelievable. I thought he set the tone when he came in the game."
Leslie came off the bench in the first half and helped break the Pack out of a sluggish offensive start. He led all scorers in the game with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting and showed off a variety of skills in his first game. He also added six rebounds to go along with six blocks – several of which helped start easy fast breaks for the Pack.
"That's what I'm here for to just bring the energy and that's what I did," Leslie said.
Lorenzo Brown, who led all players in minutes in the first game, finished with 14 points while Scott Wood added 11 and Ryan Harrow scored 16 off the bench. Harrow gave Pack fans a scare when he briefly went to the locker room after taking a shot to the gut but returned to the game but returned to the game with no ill effects. Harrow admitted after the game that his small frame and attacking style means he'll have to get used to taking punishment.
"I gotta be able to take those hits and still contribute to the team and do what I have to do," Harrow said. "I'm learning."
Tracy Smith, a pre-season All-ACC selection, finished with 10 points and nine rebounds but did not score in the first half and took just one shot. The Pack made an effort to get him the ball more towards the end of the game, but Lowe said that Smith will have to work harder to get position as defenses key in on him this year.
"I don't think Tracy worked hard enough to get it – if you notice a couple of times he caught it he was four or five feet off the block," Lowe said. "We don't want to give him the ball right there but we gave him to it anyway. He has to work harder."
The Pack was hardly perfect in its opener though, shooting just 41 percent from the field and being out-rebounded by the Eagles. The Pack allowed too many open looks despite only allowing Tech to shoot 35 percent from the field. They also gave up 20 offensive rebounds on 44 misses, a ratio that Lowe was not pleased with after the game.
"There are certainly things we need to work on – rebounding the ball," Lowe said. "They only shot 35 percent but 20 offensive rebounds – that's too much so we have to go back to work again."
The Pack started out slow, scoring just four points in the first eight minutes of the game and falling behind the Golden Eagles before Leslie provided a spark. Coming off the bench, Leslie scored two quick baskets to get the Pack back into an offensive rhythm. The Pack went on a spurt, pulling out to a 10-point lead before allowing Tech to go on a run in the final minutes of the half and cut the Pack's lead to 37-34.
"I don't think we came out as sharp as we would have liked to," Lowe said. "I know its game one but us coaches want to be sharp all the time."
The second half was better for the Pack offensively, but the defense kept them from ever pulling away entirely from the Eagles. Smith was more involved in the second half, scoring all 10 of his points. The Pack also forced 11 second half turnovers that helped lead to easy baskets and kept the Eagles from ever putting the final outcome in doubt.
"There's definitely room for improvement in every category," Wood said. "We'll just treat those things in practice."