Blazers Rout Pack, 72-52

Elijah Millsap scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead No. 2 seed UAB past No. 6 seed NC State 72-52 in the second round of the 2010 National Invitational Tournament.

From the opening tip UAB came out and took it to the Wolfpack. Playing aggressively on both ends of the floor, the Blazers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first couple of minutes that forced a quick timeout by NC State head coach Sidney Lowe.

An undersized bunch blessed with great athleticism and tenacity, UAB plays an aggressive, man-to-man defense that all game prevented the Wolfpack from establishing any flow in its offensive sets. After NC State cut the early lead to 8-4, UAB ripped off a 23-7 run over the next 12 minutes that gave the Blazers a commanding 31-11 lead and they never looked back.

While UAB was patient offensively, hit shots, and defended, NC State couldn't establish Tracy Smith, gave up easy baskets in transition, and had problems handling the basketball.

UAB ended the first half with a 37-17 advantage after hitting 14-of-24 shots from the field while scoring 17 points off turnovers to just four for the Wolfpack. State totaled nine turnovers and shots 25% from the field in the opening half.

NC State played better in the second half, but UAB's star, Elijah Millsap, made sure his team wouldn't allow their double-digit lead to fade away. An All-Conference USA selection and the brother of Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap, Elijah scored in a variety of ways over the final 20 minutes and pounded the glass. Millsap made a big play whenever NC State attempted to close the gap, and he finished the game with 27 points and 15 boards, both game-highs.

The lone bright spot for NC State had to be the play of senior forward Dennis Horner. The 6-foot-9 power forward competed until the final horn and finished with 23 points and eight boards on 7-of-12 shooting from the field.

Horner's frontcourt mate, Tracy Smith, didn't have the same amount of success. Harassed and hounded all game, the 6-foot-8 junior scored just six points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field. He ended the game with more personal fouls (4) than rebounds (3).

NC State's inability to get Smith going definitely hampered the Wolfpack's offensive success, but once again they received virtually no output from their guards and wings. Javier Gonzalez, Farnold Degand, Scott Wood, Julius Mays, and C.J. Williams shot a combined 8-of-25 from the field with eight turnovers and just nine assists.

UAB came into the game hitting around 42% of their shots over the four previous games but shot 51% against the Wolfpack. The Blazers totaled 13 assists and had just 11 turnovers while outrebounding NC State 38-33.

The Wolfpack managed to hit only 36% of its shots and totaled 13 turnovers that UAB converted into 22 points as the Blazers never trailed.

UAB continues in the 2010 NIT and will host No. 4 seed North Carolina early next week. The winner of that game earns a trip to New York for the semifinals of the NIT.

NC State's season ends at 20-16. The Wolfpack won six of nine games down the stretch after a mid-season seven-game ACC losing streak.


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