State rode an inside-outside game to an easy 74-46 win over Rams, with center Ben McCauley and guard Trevor Ferguson leading the way with 14 and 12 points respectively.
McCauley who went 6-of-10 from the floor and grabbed nine rebounds, said the Pack's big men had the advantage down low early on.
"One of the things coach said early on is that we have the advantage inside, so we need to go inside," McCauley said. "Sure enough, we did that and we started getting some easy baskets. Then sure enough, when they doubled down, we'd kick it out and and Trevor was hitting some big shots."
The win came with several of the Pack's key players sitting on the bench. Senior Courtney Fells missed the game with an injury and point guard Farnold Degand sat out for disciplinary reasons. Forward Brandon Costner had his eyebrow cut in a fight over a jump ball and sat out the second half due to dizziness after scoring five points in the first half.
Fells went through warm ups with the team but Lowe said it was a game-time decision to keep him out.
"We told him just to shut it down. He said 'if you need me to go, then I'll go,'" Lowe said. "But we thought we had enough guys that we can go ahead and win this ball game. So hopefully we'll see him soon."
The depth was key for the Pack with 10 players getting double digits in minutes, including redshirt freshman Johnny Thomas, who has fought through injuries for the past year and a half. The injury issues also gave Ferguson and forward Simon Harris the opportunities to start for the first time this year.
"It's a good thing when you have guys, especially with guys like Trevor and Simon, who have experience and you can plug in to the starting lineup," Lowe said. "I took C.J. [Williams] out because I wanted Trevor in there with a little more experience playing with Simon. Those guys did a great job for us."
McCauley said he's excited about the new depth of the team, and that these early games have given young players, like Williams and freshman point guard Julius Mays, valuable experience before ACC play.
"Years in the past, especially Coach Lowe's first year, we didn't have much of a bench at all really. Last year we had a little bit more, but this year I feel like we really have two strong lines -- a first five and a second five," McCauley said. "That's good, because when you get into ACC play, the tempo gets higher and a lot of guys are going to be tired. To have some extra guys is going to be big for us."
After State's big run to start the game, the WSSU defense clamped down and put more pressure on the ball, causing the Wolfpack to commit 10 first half turnovers. Lowe hit hard on that during halftime with the team, but point guard Javier Gonzalez attributed it more to carelessness with the ball.
"They were trying to give us different looks and make us turn the ball over, and I don't think it worked," Gonzalez said on the Rams' varying defensive sets. "In the first half we were careless with the ball and they got turnovers out of it. In the second half they tried to trap us and we got layups out of it."
The game gave Ferguson the opportunity to come out strong after being taken down on a hard foul in last week's Davidson game. Ferguson had nine straight Wolfpack points at one point in the second half, including an and-one opportunity on a fast break -- reminding him of last week's foul that left him on his back.
Ferguson he had the confidence to get back out there and that it felt good to finish the basket this week.
"My teammates were getting on me about it because they wanted me to [dunk it], but I was a little nervous from high school when I broke both of my wrists, then last week, so I just wanted to try to make the basket and get out of there safe," Ferguson said.
Now with ECU coming to town Wednesday and big non-conference matchups on the horizon, McCauley and his team are glad to have wins under their belts and new depth on their bench.
"It's good to have these games to develop and work the kinks out. We're all really coming along now and getting to the solid play we need to be at," McCauley said. "We have some tough non-conference games with Marquette and Florida. These games are good to develop the young guys and get some rhythm and chemistry."