N.C. State routs Massachusetts to advance to Tip-Off final

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 17, 2012 

— Scott Wood colored his evaluation of N.C. State’s performance against Massachusetts in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a hint of disappointment.

“We can be a lot better,” Wood said.

That sounds like a threat after N.C. State dispatched the Minutemen 94-76 on Friday.

And while Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried was pleased with the overall effort and the result, he lamented the absence of triple digits on the final scoreboard.

“I thought we could get 100 today, so we come up a little short,” Gottfried said.

Then there was UMass coach Derek Kellogg’s take on the game and the strength of the sixth-ranked Wolfpack (3-0).

“They have the McDonald’s All-Americans and the future pros but they also play together,” Kellogg said. “When you have a collection of talent and you can get them to play together, you have a chance to beat anybody.”

N.C. State looked every bit as good as Kellogg said in building a 27-point lead in the second half, but there was, as both Wood and Gottfried pointed out, room for improvement.

“I think coach said it best in the locker room, there’s a lot of things we can get better at,” Wood said. “There are times when we don’t defend and I don’t know if it was because we were ahead by so much but we got relaxed in the second half. We have to close teams out.”

N.C. State will get a chance to make improvements Sunday in the title game of the Tip-Off against Oklahoma State.

There was plenty to build on from Friday’s effort, which was different than Thursday’s grind-it-out win over Penn State.

The one constant was freshman T.J. Warren, who led five Wolfpack players in double-figures with 21 points. Wood made five 3-pointers – always a good sign for N.C. State – and guard Lorenzo Brown added 10 assists.

Following the bounce-back effort by Wood and Brown, who both struggled against Penn State, forward Richard Howell added 19 points and nine rebounds. Howell spent much of Thursday’s game in foul trouble.

Forward C.J. Leslie, as he did in the first two games of the season, dominated the game in stretches and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

“A lot of different guys are doing a lot of good things for our team,” Gottfried said.

N.C. State nearly eclipsed the 100-point mark for the first time since Nov. 2004 but the Wolfpack went 16 of 32 from the free-throw line.

“We would have scored over 100 if we made some foul shots,” Gottfried said.

Wood’s first-half shooting set the tone for the Wolfpack. N.C. State went 10-0 last season when Wood made at least four 3-pointers. Wood, who didn’t score in the first half against Penn State on Thursday, hit five 3-pointers in the first half, the last at the halftime buzzer to give the Wolfpack a 48-32 advantage.

UMass (2-1) cut N.C. State’s lead to 11, on a dunk by Maxie Esho at 16:13 in the second half, but the Wolfpack quickly responded.

Brown scored off an offensive rebound, which was followed by a 3 from Wood and four straight points from Warren, who made eight of his 11 shots. Warren has gone 17 of 23 in two games in Puerto Rico, an efficiency that has impressed Gottfried.

“T.J. is a tough matchup for people,” Gottfried said. “He’s hard to guard in a lot of different spots on the floor.”

After doing most of the heavy lifting against Penn State on Thursday, Warren got more help on Friday. He even got in the final word on the Wolfpack’s win.

“I’m glad the older guys finally got into it and started making shots,” Warren said, jokingly. “I’m happy for them.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938 or twitter.com/jwgiglio

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service