TSX: Tough Road Ahead

North Carolina State has won its ACC opener for the first time in coach Sidney Lowe's five years, but stiffer tests now await.

The Wolfpack is on the road for its next two games -- at Boston College and Florida State -- before getting back to the RBC Center to host Duke on Jan. 19.

"This was a great initiation for our young players, to get them started in the ACC," Lowe said after the 90-69 romp past Wake Forest. "And we were able to do it at home. That's great. We know all our games won't be by that margin.

"But it's great to see that we can play this way if we do the right things and play the right way."

The fact the win came against a team that is struggling -- the Demon Deacons fell to 7-9 in losing for the fifth time in six games -- didn't diminish the Wolfpack's enthusiasm.

N.C. State started two freshmen (Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie) and brought a third (Ryan Harrow) off the bench for 25 minutes.

"It was a very important game for us," senior forward Tracy Smith said. "It means a lot for our confidence and the confidence of our three freshmen to get a win like this, on our home court, in front of our fans.

"Now, we just need to go get prepared to win some games on the road."

-- Senior F Tracy Smith had his biggest game since coming back from knee surgery with 23 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Wake Forest. Smith missed 10 games after being injured in early November and rejoined the action on New Year's Day in the win over San Diego. He is averaging 18 points and 7.0 rebounds a game in three outings since his return.

-- N.C. State is 8-1 at home following the win over Wake and will go to Boston College on Jan. 11 on a five-game winning streak, its longest since it won its first five games of the 2009-10 season.

-- There are somewhat mitigating circumstances for coach Sidney Lowe's losing streak in conference openers. This was the first time in his stint that the Wolfpack began ACC play at home after opening on the road the previous four seasons.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,013 -- Senior F Tracy Smith's career point total through Jan. 8, becoming the 44th N.C. State player to top the 1,000-point mark.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Having Tracy back in there makes a great difference for us. He's our main guy inside. Not only is he going to get a shot for himself, but he can settle us down. If things are getting rattled in there, we can always call a set and get the ball in his hands." -- Coach Sidney Lowe, on the impact F Tracy Smith has had on the Wolfpack since his return.

--at Boston College, Jan. 11
Give the advantage to the Eagles with their experience, especially in the backcourt with senior G Biko Paris and junior G Reggie Jackson. But senior F Tracy Smith and freshman F C.J. Leslie could make the difference for the Wolfpack up front.

--at Florida State, Jan. 15
The Seminoles are known for their defense and have one of the ACC's top all-around players in senior F Chris Singleton. This is where senior PG Javier Gonzalez needs to step up to take the pressure off Wolfpack freshman G Lorenzo Brown, a starter, and freshman G Ryan Harrow, a key contributor off the bench.

FUTURES MARKET: After some struggles at the free throw line, N.C. State has put together solid efforts back-to-back from the stripe, going 17 of 19 against Wake Forest and 23 of 24 against Elon the game before that. In the two previous games, they were a combined 18 of 32 (56.3 percent). They are shooting 70.9 percent on the season in games through Jan. 8.

-- Freshman G Ryan Harrow has a streak of 20 consecutive made free throws as the Wolfpack heads to Boston College. He didn't go to the line in the win over Wake Forest. He is shooting 93.6 percent from the stripe in his first 15 collegiate games.

-- Sophomore G Scott Wood is shooting 46.3 percent (44 of 95) from 3-point range after going 6 of 8 from behind the arc against Elon and Wake Forest.

-- Freshman F C.J. Leslie averaged 12.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in eight games since returning to the starting lineup against USC Upstate on Dec. 11, capped by the 19-point, six-rebound effort against Wake Forest.

-- Freshman G Lorenzo Brown's eight assists against Wake were a season high. He had seven in the two games before that.

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