Pack Blows Out Colonials

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Cedric Simmons tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and Engin Atsur added a career-high nine assists as No. 18 NC State roared past No. 12 George Washington 79-58.

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    In an intensely physical battle, it was NC State who overpowered George Washington for a hard-fought 79-58 victory. NC State totaled 21 assists as the precise passing across a spread floor proved the perfect anecdote to GW's mix of aggressive match-up zones, full-court pressure, and half-court trapping.

    "You really do have to recognize what they are doing, and they change defenses," said Wolfpack head coach Herb Sendek. "An important part of the offensive gameplan was to recognize what defense they were in and to attack accordingly."

    Engin Atsur led the Pack's offensive attack on the Colonials, totaling nine assists along with 11 points.

    "I think we did a great job against their core pressure," said Atsur. "I think the unselfishness was the key tonight."

    Cedric Simmons and Andrew Brackman not only outplayed the Colonials' big front line, which features three players over 6-foot-8 and 230-pounds, but each truly shined. Brackman came off the bench in the first half to spark the Pack with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including two three pointers and highlighted by a driving right-handed tomahawk dunk in traffic from the baseline. Brackman finished with 16 points on 7-9 shooting, along with 7 rebounds.

    In the first half Simmons appeared to struggle offensively against the strength of Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Each traded the game's first two baskets, but then both only made 1-of-5 shots in the first half.

    However, Simmons opened the second half with three straight field goals, and went on to collect 14 points on a variety of thunderous dunks and turning hooks. Simmons helped the Pack outrebound the Colonials 47-37 by grabbing 10 boards, and George Washington had been outrebounding its opponents by an average of six boards a game.

    "Both of those guys are good players, and they complement each other real well," Sendek said of Brackman and Simmons. "When those guys are playing at their best it really gives us a nice presence inside."

    While the Pack closed out the game in dominating fashion, the matchup was a grinding fight that challenged the team to fend off several runs by the Colonials. Despite, two big offensive spurts by George Washington, head coach Karl Hobbs never felt his team could gain an advantage.

    "I never felt like we could gain the momentum," Hobbs said. "It was always something that would break down with us. They responded to every challenge we presented to them."

    A three-pointer by Atsur put the Pack up 23-12 with 9:40 to go in the first half, but then the Pack would go scoreless for the next 5:50, and George Washington clawed to 23-17 with 3:40 left. Then Atsur found Brackman for a layup on the break to key an 11-5 run to close the half. The Pack never looked back, opening the second half with eight straight points to go up 42-26.

    The closest the Colonials would get after that would be 53-41 with 11:35 remaining. Shortly thereafter Simmons converted two straight dunks and Bennerman drained a three from the corner off an inbounds to put the Pack up 62-45 with 8:28 to go, sending the home crowd into a huge roar. Bennerman led all scorers, totaling 17 points, including 3-6 three point shooting.

    Coach Hobbs was clearly impressed with NC State's performance against his previously unbeaten Colonials.

    "This is clearly one of the best teams in the country, every statistical category shows that," he said. "They are capable of winning a national championship, that's how good they are to me."

    The Pack dominated every statistical category, including holding the Colonials to only 19% shooting in the first half, and 31% for the game, while shooting 53% itself.

    "They played very good team defense, they are always in position, they really do trust each other defensively, and that's a ard thing to teach."

    NC State (11-1) returns to the court this week to face UNC-Greensboro at home before traveling to Chapel Hill next Saturday for a contest against North Carolina.

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