Hot-Shooting Wolfpack Roars Past the Privateers

<B>RALEIGH, NC --</b> Wearing fresh new uniforms, the NC State Wolfpack put on a show tonight in the season opener, routing New Orleans 92-58.

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    Senior guard Julius Hodge led the way for the Wolfpack, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists while connecting on 8 of 11 field goal attempts.

    "I envisioned us being 1-0 after tonight, and we did that," Hodge said following the game. "In years past, we would get the win but it would be sloppy. It would look like the offense wasn't working, but tonight we really ran our sets well and were very successful."

    NC State opened the game with an 11-0 run and put the Pioneers away in the first half by connecting on 56% of their three point attempts and 59.4% overall. Sophomore guard Engin Atsur was particularly effective in the first half, hitting four 3-pointers to pace the Wolfpack with 12 points at the half.

    I felt good shooting, but it wasn't about me," Atsur said. "My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball. All of us were looking for each other. Everyone was open because we were passing the ball and finding the open man.

    Thanks to the accurate shooting from deep and an attacking defense, the Wolfpack led 54-27 at the half and never looked back, cruising to a 92-58 victory.

    Wolfpack head coach Herb Sendek was impressed with his team's unselfishness, as they amassed 24 assists on the night and shot an impressive 57.4% from the field.

    "I told the team after the game that I'm really proud of them because they did it the right way tonight," Sendek said. "They came out and shared the basketball. It's hard sometimes because we all kind of like ourselves. From Julius right through the ranks, we had guys doing that."

    Hodge's 21 points paced the Wolfpack, but perhaps a major bright spot was the strong play of senior Jordan Collins. Collins finished with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists, and hit six of seven field goal attempts. The 6'10 Collins was aggressive on the offensive end and finished strong around the basket. If he can continue to give NC State an inside presence, it will only make the Wolfpack a tougher team to play against.

    "Jordan Collins did a great job tonight," Ilian Evtimov said. "He was a big presence on the boards, and he was big with his moves. He made himself available, and we gave him the ball. When that happened we got some opportunities from the three-point line."

    Junior guard Tony Bethel added eight points, six assists, and three rebounds while senior Levi Watkins finished with eight points on three of four shooting from the field.

    Juniors Cameron Bennerman and Ilian Evtimov also performed well, as Bennerman had nine points and five rebounds with Evtimov tossing in eight points and seven boards.

    Freshman Gavin Grant also played well, as he tallied six points and ended the game with a vicious dunk on New Orleans' 6'10 center Shawn Malloy. Grant's dunk brought the crowd to its feet, and the 6'7 guard was all smiles following the terrific play.

    Super sophomore guard Bo McCalebb was the lone bright spot for New Orleans, as he finished with 21 points and four steals against the Wolfpack.

    NC State (1-0) will face the Elon (1-0) Thursday night at 7:00 while New Orleans (0-1) plays Fairleigh Dickinson (1-0) at 2:00.

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