The Wolfpack allowed an undermanned Fairleigh Dickinson team to cut its 10-point halftime lead to as few as four points in the second half before rebounding to win 77-67 on Saturday night at the RBC Center. The Pack rebounded from its first loss of the season against Georgetown and will now face back-to-back road challenges against Wisconsin and Syracuse.
"Those are two great games for us and we better be ready to play," Lowe said. "If we're not we are going to get our heads knocked off."
Lorenzo Brown led the way with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds despite a cold 3-for-10 night from the field. Scott Wood added four 3-pointers for 12 points and DeShawn Painter was also in double figures for the Pack with 12 points. Painter has started every game for the Pack since Tracy Smith was sidelined with a knee injury – Smith is expected to miss at least two more weeks.
"I'm just trying to fill in – playing my role – until Tracy comes back," Painter said.
As a team the Pack shot just 39 percent from the floor for the game and hit 7-of-18 from behind the arc. The Pack did get to the line 34 times but converted just 71 percent of its chances from the charity stripe. The team was also out-rebounded by the Knights, who had 46 rebounds including 17 offensive rebounds on 41 misses.
"It wasn't one of our best games obviously," Lowe said. "We can't afford to come out and mess around and turn the ball over and not have energy. We had a couple of guys come out with pretty good energy but as a group I thought we were careless with the ball early. But the message to them was that we're not good enough yet."
The Wolfpack got off to a sluggish start in front of a thin and quiet crowd, unable to get its half-court offense working against the Knights' zone defense. Wood, for his part, refused to chalk up the lack-luster play to the crowd.
"That's just an excuse," Wood said. "Everyone gets up for open gyms so I don't think it matters that much. It's just little things you need to get down and you have to squash these kind of teams when they come in here."
The Pack shot 45 percent in the half but was just 1-of-8 from behind the arc and committed nine turnovers. Painter took advantage of his size advantage against the Knights to lead all first-half scorers with 10 points.
The Pack managed to create some separation later in the half thanks to its defense, forcing turnovers that led to easy baskets and a double-digit lead. The Pack forced 10 turnovers in the half and held the Knights to just 32 percent from the field but did give up nine offensive rebounds on 23 misses. The Pack would allow the Knights a slight comeback late in the first half, but managed to take a 39-29 lead into the locker room.
The Knights came out of the locker room and jumped on a surprised-looking NC State team, cutting the lead to as little as four points before Wood hit a pair of 3-pointers to push the game back to double digits. The Pack held onto the lead for most of the second half, but the Knights made it interesting in the end – cutting the lead to seven points with under two minutes remaining. Lowe's young team managed to hold on by hitting its free throws down the stretch, escaping with a win.
"In some part I think some guys thought it was in the bag," Lowe said. "I think you could tell I wasn't very happy about that. We made some substitutions and got some guys in there to finish the game off – but its never over. Winning teams finish ballgames. There is no let down."