Finding A Way

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State star forward T.J. Warren came down awkwardly on a drive to the basket in Saturday's game against Duke.

NC State star forward T.J. Warren came down awkwardly on a drive to the basket in Saturday's game against Duke. He rolled his ankle on the play, and re-tied his shoe... remaining on the court for the rest of the game.

However, as anyone who has had an ankle sprain knows, it appears on Sunday the ankle stiffened up. The injury was bad enough to keep him out of Monday night's home tilt with Maryland.

"He came down pretty hard," said Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried. "He finished the game and yesterday at the practice he couldn't practice and today at our shootaround he was pretty gimpy. I think our players had a pretty good idea [Warren wouldn't play].

"About a half hour before the game, it's when we both decided, T.J. and I together, that you're not going to be very effective even if you try."

Obviously NC State had to re-group. The Terps entered with nearly a full week to prepare for the Wolfpack, who had just lost by 30+ points at Duke two days earlier.

"It's like anything," said Gottfried. "Injuries are a part of sports. You can't build in excuses, you have to find a way to do more. More rebounds... [be] better defensively. You just have to step your game up."

It was going to take a team effort to make up for the loss of Warren, not only the ACC's leading scorer at 22.2 points per game but also the Pack's top rebounder (7.3 rebounds per game).

"We had to come together," said junior Ralston Turner. "Play as a team to try and get it done."

It all started extremely bad for the Wolfpack. The team shot just 22.2 percent from the field, missed all eight three-point attempts, and only scored 20 points in the first half.

"I thought in the first half we were still trying to figure it out," said Gottfried. "I thought in the first half we looked a little lost on offense ... because we do rely on T.J. a lot. Then in the second half we just settled in... here's who is on the floor, we've got to play."

Things changed in the second half. The Pack came out, trailing by 11 just a few seconds in, and turned it up defensively which seemed to spark their offense.

Also, they began to hit shots within their halfcourt offense. NC State shot a blistering 56.7% (17-of-30) in the second half.

"Our guys really got comfortable, got aggressive," said Gottfried. "We really executed our offense very well."

Leading the way was Turner. The redshirt junior, who was inserted into the starting lineup, hit 2-of-8 shots in the first half, missing all five of his three-point attempts. But in the second half it seemed like he couldn't miss. Turner knocked down 6-of-11 field goals, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range to score 19 second-half points.

"I thought Ralston was terrific in the second half," Gottfried said. "I thought Ralston kind of got in that zone.. he got in that place, that zone where he thought he was making every shot. At that point we wanted to go to him a lot."

"It wasn't just me," added Turner. "It was pretty much my team. I couldn't get open without those screens and my guards did a great job of finding me."

Gottfried, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Monday, just seemed pleased with the way his team fought through the adversity to get the win.

"I think that our team showed a lot of courage," he stated. "They showed a lot of mental toughness. We stepped up in the second half and really played with tremendous desire.

"I'm just really proud of our guys. They had the odds against them, but they fought it out, hard... today they taught themselves to keep competing no matter what."

Next up for the Wolfpack is a home game this weekend against Georgia Tech.

"I hope we can get it going," said Gottfried. "It's like building a house. We're laying a foundation right now with these young guys."


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