Pack warms up, downs Eagles 77-42

NC State looked as cold as the weather outside early, but warmed up enough to blow out North Carolina Central 77-42 on Saturday afternoon at the RBC Center. Thirteen different players scored for the Wolfpack in the win.

With snow blanketing the Raleigh area on Satruday, NC State had its own troubles digging out from the cold.

Playing in front of a few hundred fans thanks to the winter weather, the Wolfpack spent most of the first half trying to warm up. The Eagles led the Pack for much of the first half before a 15-2 run by the home team to close the half put the Pack up for good. The Pack cruised in the second half, capturing a 77-42 win at the RBC Center.

The Eagles, still relatively new to Division I, have played just six home games so far this year and have been a punching bag for its ACC foes. Central lost by over 40 to North Carolina and Virginia Tech while losing to Miami by 30 points.

Against the Pack, however, the Eagles tried to slow the game down to compensate for the talent differential. The strategy kept the game close in the first half but the Pack's superior talent took over in the final 20 minutes.

The Pack shot 59 percent from the floor in the game while holding the Eagles to just 26 percent from the floor. The 26 percent shooting was the best mark defensively for the Pack all season.

Tracy Smith again led the way for the Pack, scoring 21 points despite sitting the final eight minutes of the game. Two other players scored in double figures, as Dennis Horner scored 13 and Richard Howell added 10 in the win. Thirteen Pack players scored in the game including Johnny Thomas, Kendall Smith and Enrico Kufuor - who all scored their first points of the season in the final minutes of the contest.

North Carolina Central came out from the opening tip as the more aggressive team, using its full-court press to frustrate the Pack. Apparently unaware of their role as an easy win, the Eagles jumped out to an 11-4 lead as the Pack fumbled away multiple scoring opportunities.

The Eagles stayed in the lead as the sluggish Pack continued to struggle on offense while Central kept making shots. Horner finally gave the Pack to lead with 6:30 left in the first half when the senior hit a baseline jumper to make it 19-18 in favor of the home team.

The Pack defense swallowed up the Eagles over the final nine minutes of the half, allowing just two points to help the Pack go on a 15-2 run to close the half. As a result, the Pack took a 27-20 lead into the locker room despite six turnovers, 1-for-7 shooting from behind the arc and under 40 percent shooting overall.

The second half went better for the Pack, but the Eagles didn't fold despite facing a double-digit deficit for much of the half. The Pack was able to get more open looks for its big men in the half, particularly Tracy Smith, who scored 13 of the Pack's first 20 points in the half.

Central couldn't keep pace once the Pack got its offense rolling, as woeful second-half shooting ended any comeback hopes. The size and athleticism of Smith, Richard Howell and Josh Davis were too much for the Eagle defense to contain.

The Pack will resume conference play on Wednesday when the team travels to Virginia, beginning a string of three road games over the next four contests. The Cavaliers beat the Pack at the RBC Center in early January.

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