State Routs Belmont Abbey, 105-80

RALEIGH, N.C. - In its only exhibition game of the preseason, the sixth-ranked NC State men's basketball team turned up its defensive pressure and revved up its transition engines Saturday afternoon in a 105-80 victory over Belmont Abbey at PNC Arena.

The Wolfpack shot more than 57 percent from the field in the first half, and was even better in the second making 16 of its first 23 shots after intermission and pushing its lead over the Crusaders to as many as 33 points late in the contest.

For the game, the Pack shot 60 percent from the field, even while making just three of 17 3-point attempts in its final tune-up before Friday's season opener against Miami of Ohio. The game is slated for 7 p.m. at PNC Arena and will be broadcast on ESPN3.

On Saturday, five State players hit double figures, led by junior point guard Lorenzo Brown's 21 points. Brown also added nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in only 24 minutes of action.

Senior Richard Howell added 19 points and nine rebounds, while junior C.J. Leslie had 16 points, freshman T.J. Warren had 13 and freshman Rodney Purvis had 10.

As impressive as the Wolfpack's offensive output was, and as crowd-pleasing as the baseline-to-baseline breaks were to the NC State fans of 11,335, Gottfried was more pleased with his team's defensive effort, particularly in the early part of the second half.

The Pack offset its own 23 turnovers by creating 21 against the Crusaders and owned a whopping 49-22 rebounding advantage.

"I think the takeaway from this game is that in the first part of the second half our shoes were squeaking, we were down and defending and our ball pressure was really good," Gottfried said. "That generated everything for us."

Starting two freshmen - Warren and Purvis - along with three experienced players, Gottfried not only injected a little youth into his lineup, he also lit a fire under Howell, who came off the bench to score nine points and grab five rebounds in his first six minutes of action.

"He came in and played really hard," Gottfried said. "He actually gave our team a big spark."

Gottfried gave everyone on his team a little freedom to play the entire court. That led to a higher number of turnovers than most coaches would like to see in an exhibition game, but it also previewed for an eager audience the style of play this team can show when hitting on all cylinders.

"We are a team with some young players in the game and we are still learning where to go with the ball," said the coach. "We have to work on our decision-making.

"We are still in the infant stages with some things. I like the fact that at times we made the extra pass. We still turned the ball over way too many times. We were careless. That is something we can't do and we have to improve on."

Brown led the Wolfpack with 15 points and five rebounds in the first half, as State, after a slow start, raced out to a 50-43 advantage at intermission. Brown was one of three Pack players in double digits in the first half, with Leslie and Howell adding 10 apiece.

After shooting better than 57 percent from the field in the first half, the Wolfpack opened up its transition game in the second half, making 13 of its first 19 shots, usually on fast-break layups and dunks.

Freshman Tyler Lewis made his first field goal - and the team's only 3-pointer of the second half - on a pull up jumper in transition.

When the game was over, Gottfried was ready to move on to the next challenge: the start of the regular-season.

"It's time to play," Gottfried said. "Let's go get `em."

Pack Pride Top Stories