TSX: Horner Steps Up

An era ended when Dennis Horner left the floor at Raleigh's RBC Center for likely the final time as a member of the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Horner is the last 'Pack player recruited by Herb Sendek, Sidney Lowe's predecessor as coach.

Horner made his departure a memorable one, scoring 11 points in a critical 19-5 second-half run that helped give the Wolfpack a 66-54 victory over Boston College.

"Any victory would have been great way to go out," Horner told the Raleigh News & Observer. "But to do it that way was all the better."

With 14 points, Horner wasn't the 'Pack's leading scorer. That honor went to teammate Tracy Smith with 19.

But if he continues to come up with big plays, he could help the 'Pack make a little noise in the ACC tournament. He is the team's second-leading scorer for the season but is averaging under 10 points a game in ACC competition.

The 'Pack earned the 11th seed and will play a first-round game against Clemson. Florida State awaits the winner in the quarterfinals.

Horner demonstrated his toughness when he had to leave the game after taking a blow to his head that resulted in a cut near his right eye that required five stitches to close.

He left the game with 18:13 left in the half and his team up by just one point. He came back about eight minutes later and his team down by four.

"I knew he would be OK," Smith told the newspaper. "He came back and hit some big shots for us."

N.C. State finished 17-14 in the regular season and could continue on past the ACC tournament in some postseason tourney.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- Junior F Tracy Smith continues to be the workhorse for the Wolfpack. His 19 points in the win over BC marked his 14th consecutive game in double figures. He was 7 of 12 from the field, making him 29 of 48 (60.4 percent) over his past four games.

-- The 5-11 finish in the conference play left the Wolfpack 20-44 in four seasons under coach Sidney Lowe.

ON THE SPOT: G Javier Gonzalez committed two early fouls and played only 11 minutes in the first half, and N.C. State had ball-handling problems in his absence. The Wolfpack made all 10 of its turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Gonzalez has been prone to ball-handling problems, too, but he still is the 'Pack's best option at the point and he needs to be on the floor.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They've started to figure out that this is how we have to play if we want give ourselves a chance." -- Coach Sidney Lowe, in the Raleigh News & Observer, on the difference in his team in recent outings.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP:
North Carolina State finished the regular season with wins in three of its last four games to climb out of the ACC basement. The 66-54 victory over Boston College made the Wolfpack 5-11 in the conference, which was good for a tie for 9th with North Carolina and Virginia.

The Cavaliers and the Tar Heels got the No. 9 and No.10 seeds respectively by virtue of the season sweeps of the two games with the 'Pack, which settled for the No. 11 seed.

The Wolfpack, 17-14 at the end of the regular season, is assured of finishing over .500 for the third time in four years under coach Sidney Lowe.

PLAYER ROTATION:
Usual Starters -- F Dennis Horner, F Tracy Smith, G/F Scott Wood, G Farnold Degand, G Javier Gonzalez. Key Subs -- F Richard Howell, F Josh Davis, C Jordan Vandenberg, G C.J. Williams, G Julius Mays.

IN FOCUS: The Wolfpack hasn't won a game in the conference tournament in the last two years after making a run to the championship game in 2007, Sidney Lowe's first as coach. The Pack lost by three points to Clemson on Jan. 18 in the only meeting between the teams.

ROSTER REPORT:
-- Sophomore G C.J. Williams gave the Wolfpack a nice lift off the bench against Boston College. He was 6 of 10 from the floor, hitting 1 of 2 3-point attempts. He scored 14 points, a season high.

-- Sophomore G Julius Mays matched his season high with four assists against BC. He also scored six points in playing 23 minutes, his longest stint since playing 23 minutes in a loss at Georgia Tech on Feb. 6.

-- F Johnny Thomas, a sophomore who had played in only six games, gave the Wolfpack an unexpected lift against BC. He was on the court for a season-high 17 minutes and had six rebounds, four more than he had in all of his previous appearances this season.


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