Pack Downs CSU at Reynolds, 80-63

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Richard Howell had 17 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 25 NC State beat Cleveland State 80-63 on Saturday in its annual return to Reynolds Coliseum.

C.J. Leslie scored a team-high 19 for the Wolfpack (6-2), who shot 55 percent and led by double figures most of the afternoon. Freshman T.J. Warren added 16 points, part of a balanced offensive showing for N.C. State.

"I thought we handled the two defenses they gave us very well," said second-year head coach Mark Gottfried. "I thought we passed the ball very well, played very unselfishly, especially when they tried to play some box-and-one, triangle-and-two.

"We found some gaps and holes in their defense. This is a good win."

Reynolds was the Wolfpack's home for 50 years before the program moved off campus to PNC Arena for the 1999-2000 season. But the school has typically played at least one game a year at Reynolds for the past decade as a nod to the program's tradition.

N.C. State improved to 14-0 in the building since its move.

Charlie Lee scored 15 to lead the Vikings (6-3), who got no closer than 10 points after halftime.

"I think Cleveland State is a team that is going to win a lot of games this year," Gottfried said. "When we make our schedule out each year, we try to find teams that we feel will be good teams. I think Cleveland State is one of them."

The Vikings, a Horizon League program, played its third straight game without preseason all-conference pick Anton Grady. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is expected to miss at least four weeks because of a knee injury sustained against Robert Morris on Nov. 20.

His absence made it tougher for the Vikings to match up inside with Leslie and Howell.

Howell, a 6-8 senior, finished 7-for-11 from the field and posted his third double-double in four games. He now has four this season and 18 in his Wolfpack career. Leslie, a 6-9 junior, finished 7-for-8 from the field to go with eight rebounds.

"I thought our guys did a nice job early in the game of getting the ball inside," Gottfried said. "We wanted to go right at them.

"I thought the first four or five minutes of the game, Rodney Purvis' energy was a key for us. He gave us a lift, coming back into the starting lineup. I thought T.J. [Warren] coming off the bench was good for us. A lot of times, you sub when they go to their bench and all of a sudden we have T.J. Warren coming with their sixth man. That worked out well today."

Warren added two 3-pointers, the second to beat the shot clock and push the Wolfpack's lead to 73-55 with 4:44 left.

N.C. State was coming off a 69-65 win against Connecticut in Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night, capping a demanding first few weeks for the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite.

The Wolfpack lost to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tipoff championship, then lost at Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But things should get considerably easier with N.C. State starting a six-game homestand Saturday that will keep it in Raleigh until 2013.

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