Smith's 31 Powers State Past Towson, 88-68

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tracy Smith scored a career-high 31 points, and NC State overcame an early deficit to cruise past Towson 88-68 on Wednesday afternoon at the RBC Center.

NC State started off slow, but Tracy Smith provided enough of a lift to ensure the Wolfpack started the new year on a positive note.

The sophomore big man shattered his previous career-high of 14 by putting up 31 points as the Pack recovered from an early deficit to put away Towson 88-68 on Wednesday afternoon at the RBC Center. Smith dominated the low post in large part because of the Tigers' zone defense that often left him alone in the paint for easy baskets.

"I was just like jumping up and down because I was wide open in the back every time," Smith said. "They found me."

Coming off the bench for the Pack (9-2), Smith also set a career-high in rebounds with seven. He scored 11 of his 31 points at line, going a perfect 11-of-11 from the charity strip. Smith was just 16-for-30 coming into the game from the line.

"It's about time he made some free-throw isn't it?" junior Brandon Costner said.

Four other Pack players scored in double figures during the game. Costner added 15, Courtney Fells had 11 while Ben McCauley and Dennis Horner each had 10 in the win. Costner also set a career-high with 10 assists, the majority of them to Smith under the basket.

"Brandon gave me about six assists," Smith said. "I told him I was going to recover from the last game because he threw me passes and I was fumbling them, I gave him three turnovers so I told him I was going to pay him back."

The Pack fell behind early as the Towson (5-8) half-court press caused problems and forced a slew of turnovers. Towson's Josh Thorton also caught fire early, hitting four 3-pointers in a stretch of a few minutes to put the Tigers up 18-7 and silence the thin RBC Center crowd. But State rallied behind the brute force of Smith, who came into the game and immediately scored 11 straight points for the Pack to get the Pack back within three points.

The teams traded baskets for the next 10 minutes or so, but eventually the home team found another rally, scoring the final eight points of the first half to take a 46-41 lead to the locker room. Fittingly Smith, who scored a 19 points and the first half, scored the go-ahead basket.

"We had conversations at half," Lowe said.

The Pack responded to Lowe's choice halftime words by turning a close game into a blow-out. The game was effectively over after the Pack ripped off a 12-2 run midway through the half, punctuated by a Fells 3-pointer from the corner.

"We moved the ball well," Lowe said. "We were prepared for both their zones and the only thing we needed to do was stay patient. We did that and we got several lay-ups."

The road gets a lot rougher for the Pack over its next two games though, as it travels to Florida for its last big non-conference match-up then opens conference play by facing off against unbeaten No. 20 Clemson on the road.

"I'm hoping it's going to be a similar atmosphere to Cameron because that's always a lot of fun to play at," Costner said.

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