Playing the first of three-straight games in the Glenn Wilkes Classic at Daytona Beach, the Wolfpack jumped out to a big lead and never let Akron recover. The Pack used a dominant first half to balance out a sloppy second half, defeating the Zips 66-45 on Friday afternoon.
The Zips won the Mid-American conference tournament last year to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Akron returned most of its starting line-up this season and is expected to again challenge for the Mid-American title, but the Pack had no trouble picking up its second win against them on Friday. The Classic continues tomorrow as the Pack takes on Austin Peay at 8:15 pm before turning around on Sunday evening to play Auburn.
The Pack shot a red-hot 63 percent on the afternoon, hitting on 22-of-35 including 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point line. On the other end of the court the Wolfpack caused all sorts of problems for the Zips, forcing the Zips to just 32 percent shooting from the field and 22 from 3-point land. Akron didn't help itself at the charity strip either, shooting just 39 percent on its free throws.
Tracy Smith led the way for the Pack, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games. Dennis Horner and Javier Gonzalez were the only other players in double figures, scoring 16 points and 11 points respectively. Scott Wood scored eight points and was 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
The Pack jumped out of Akron out of the gate, going on a quick 13-2 run to make it 17-4 after the first five minutes of play as the team used its size to take advantage of mismatches against Horner and Smith. Horner started a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor including 2-for-2 from behind the arc on the way to scoring 10 points in the half. Smith led all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, making things look easy against the Zips.
Playing in just its second game of the season the Pack was running on all cylinders offensive, shooting 65 percent in the first half compared to just 32 percent for the Zips and also out-rebounded its opponent 19-14 at the half. Even more promising for the young Pack was how well it took care of the ball, committing just three turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play as it dominated Akron. The poor shooting helped the Pack build up its lead to as many as 24 points and taking a 43-21 lead into the locker room at the half.
Smith and the Pack kept the pressure on at the start of the second half, but the Zips made a run when Gonzalez was forced to sit out while in foul trouble. Without its junior point guard the Pack got sloppy, committing turnovers and failing to execute offensively. The Zips cut the lead to 16 midway through the second half when Chris McKnight knocked down a 3-pointer, but the Pack soon answered with a long Scott Wood 3-point shot to extinguish the Akron run.