Pack Gets Defensive

NC State is finding out the importance of competing at the defensive end. The results can be pretty good, too.

So a foundation has been set with defense and much of that is owed to senior guard C.J. Williams, who was called upon to upgrade his defensive performances after the Wolfpack wobbled on defense at the start of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.

Coach Mark Gottfried made it clear to Williams that defense needs to be a priority.

"He told me that I have to be a lock-down defender for this team," Williams said. "We've got guys who can defend. But he wants to know that I can go and take the best player away from them."

The idea will be, in part, that others among the Wolfpack will jump on board this push for more consistent defensive efforts.

The defense did so much damage to Wake Forest that the 76-40 outcome resulted in the Wolfpack's second-largest ACC road victory in terms of margin in school history. It was only topped by a 40-point rout of Clemson 58 years earlier.

N.C. State hadn't held a conference opponent to such a low point total since Maryland managed 28 points in the 1982 ACC Tournament.

But continued emphasis on defense is what Gottfried is expecting will make a difference. He's hoping that the seed has been planted, not to mention the Wolfpack's ability in transition to turn solid defense into easy points at the other end.

N.C. State will aim for its first 3-1 start in the ACC in six years when Boston College visits Thursday night.

-- N.C. State has matched its road victory total in conference games from a year ago after one trip. The 76-40 trouncing of Wake Forest made first-year coach Mark Gottfried the first N.C. State coach to win his first ACC road game. The Wolfpack will try to add to its road victory total in the conference with three of its next four and five of its next seven games away from home.

-- Junior F Richard Howell returned to double-double status in the game at Wake Forest. He entered ACC play with four consecutive double-doubles, but then it wasn't until the Wolfpack's third ACC game when he notched his next double-double. If he had kept the string going in the ACC opener against Maryland, he would have been the first N.C. State with double-doubles in five games in a row since Kenny Carr in 1976-77.

-- N.C. State had two sophomores eclipse the 500-point mark for their careers in consecutive games. First it was F C.J. Leslie followed by G Lorenzo Brown. Leslie did it in 43 career games, while Brown took 47 games to reach that mark.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- The number of scoreless games in F C.J. Leslie's two-season career with the Wolfpack after he was shut out at Wake Forest.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This year I've had a chance to play (point guard) and I'm doing pretty well." -- G Lorenzo Brown, whose 20 points against Wake Forest matched the sophomore's career-high in an ACC game that he set last January against North Carolina.

-- vs. Boston College, Jan. 19
The Wolfpack will want to use its superior athleticism in this game and continue to push the pace in its first home game since its lone ACC loss to Georgia Tech. N.C. State's ability to create transition opportunities will be important against a team that might prefer a more deliberate tempo.

--at Miami, Jan. 22
The Wolfpack will be challenged to deal with Miami's guards, particularly G Malcolm Grant, and there's also the matter of dealing with the bulk of Miami C Reggie Johnson. This will be the first trip out of the state of North Carolina in more than a month for the Wolfpack and they came back with losses in the last two out-of-state ventures.

FUTURES MARKET: The Wolfpack was receiving continued strong play from senior G C.J. Williams and it extended to both ends of the court. He had been a streaky offensive player with some solid defensive skills. His emergence at the offensive end is one of the biggest breakthroughs for the Wolfpack, which should be more difficult to defend with Williams as a serious scoring option. He's playing with the urgency that often is associated with a senior in a final go-around and that should bode well for the Wolfpack.

-- F C.J. Leslie came off the bench in the game against Wake Forest because of an undisclosed disciplinary matter. But he didn't score in 17 minutes of playing time and then didn't return to the court after limping away with more than 11 minutes left.

-- G Scott Wood recorded three blocked shots in the first eight minutes at Wake Forest. That number gave the junior his single-game career-high and it also marked half of his previous total of six blocked shots for the season.

-- F DeShawn Painter was back in the starting lineup, replacing F C.J. Leslie in that role for the game at Wake Forest. Painter, who started for the seventh time this season, took advantage of the opportunity by snaring 12 rebounds to match the junior's career-high.

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