Observations from the Game: Western Carolina

RALEIGH, NC -- NC State cruised to one of its easiest wins of the season on Saturday against Western Carolina. Here's a look at the highlights and low lights of the win.


Defensive Intensity
The Pack put together its most complete defensive game of the season, as Western Carolina struggled to find any sort of rhythm offensively and the Pack allowed a season low 55 points. The Catamounts couldn't hit their outside shots, especially in the first half when the team hit just 2-of-11 from downtown. They improved in the second half as the Pack lead grew close to 40 points, but still finished the game with the worst shooting night of any Pack opponent all season long by going 20-of-65 from the field.

After the game both the players and Mark Gottfried acknowledged it as one of the better defensive efforts of the season, and a huge improvement over the effort against Campbell on Thursday night. Scott Wood went so far as to say that the defense will be what decides the fate of this team - "When our defense is rolling our offense is rolling. If we can get down in a stance and get stops and know the scouting reports I think we'll be a good team."

Getting Out on the Break
The Pack got plenty of easy shots on Saturday thanks to its transition game. The Pack was able to turn Western Carolina misses into run-out opportunities, and Richard Howell gets a lot of credit for getting the rebound and making the correct pass to start the break – something that Gottfried specifically noted after the game. The Pack scored 34 transition points on the night – besting their previous season high of 24 - compared to just four fast break points for Western Carolina.

Wood Sets a Record
Scott Wood buried two more free throws on Saturday afternoon, setting a school record with 39 straight makes from the line. He made his final eight free throws last season and has gone a perfect 31-for-31 to start this year. J.J. Redick still holds the ACC record with 54 straight makes from the charity stripe.


Losing the Turnover Battle
The Pack lost the turnover battle for the second game in a row on Saturday, coughing it up 14 times and forcing just 12 against a usually turnover plagued Western Carolina team. It's a disturbing trend for the Pack, which committed more turnovers than Campbell on Thursday night in a much closer game. The two-turnover difference did not matter on Saturday, but as league play quickly approaches its one area the Pack will need to shore up if it wants to jump out to a quick start in the conference.

Player of the Game
In a game where all five starters scored in double figures, Howell's continued dominance on the glass stood out. Howell registered his third straight double-double – grabbing 14 rebounds and scoring 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. He also added fours assists, a few of which came on long outlet passes after securing a rebound. Honorable mention goes to C.J. Williams, who continued his strong play by scoring a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Lorenzo Brown on Richard Howell:

"Richard is a monster on the glass. The coaches always tell us he needs help down there. He can't get all the boards, but he just goes after them. He goes after every rebound he can."

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