"From the first possession on we sent a message that we were here for business and that we were going to do whatever it takes to win," junior Ben McCauley said.
They did plenty more than just win, however. The Pack forced visiting Winthrop into bad shot after bad shot, building a double-digit lead in the first half and never letting up. A smothering defense and balanced offensive attack fueled a lopsided victory, as the Pack ran over the Eagles 74-48 on Tuesday night.
"We're building," coach Sidney Lowe said. "We are trying to establish something with our team and we still have a long way to go. We have a long way to go but we are certainly working hard and working in the right direction and tonight it paid off."
Four players scored in double figures for the Pack and ten different players recorded a basket, led by a double-double from McCauley. The big man scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds and recorded his first double-double since the 2007 season. Smith added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench, Brandon Costner scored 12 and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe while Courtney Fells added 10 in the win.
"We concentrated on not forcing shots, guys will get their shots," McCauley said. "As long as we are an unselfish team there is going to be shots for everyone. I think you saw that tonight everyone did very well shooting the ball and we were very unselfish with the ball."
Lowe said after the game he was particularly pleased with the way the team protected the basketball, with just six turnovers compared to twelve assists.
"I'm more pleased with that than just about anything," Lowe said.
The game is the first the Pack has played RBC Center this season following three games at Reynolds (two exhibitions) and one on the road at New Orleans. The Pack has another home game this Sunday against UNC Greensboro before traveling to Charlotte for a neutral court battle with Stephen Curry and No. 24 Davidson. The team will take the next few days off for the holiday before getting back to work on Friday.
Point guard Farnold Degand missed his second straight game while recovering from soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Lowe said after the game that he hopes Degand can return to practice on Friday but that its unlikely the junior will suit up on Sunday.
"I think its a slim chance that Farnold will play," Lowe said. "We are hoping that he can start doing something. He hasn't been on the floor at all so we are hoping he can get on the floor."
Started the game on an 11-3 run and never looked back, as Winthrop consistently shot itself in the foot with turnovers and missing open shots. McCauley set the tone early for the Pack, scoring seven of the team's first 13 points to start the game and leading all scorers in the half with nine. The Pack got to the line 16 times in the half and shot better than 80 percent from the strike, helping build a 40-24 lead at the break. The second half was no better for the Eagles, who ended the night shooting under 30 percent from the field and just 19 percent from behind the arc.
"We just worked inside-out," Smith said. "When the double-team came we'd kick the ball out and repost and get a little bit better position and finish right next to the rim."