Three Points: Warren's fast start and N.C. State gets all the calls

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 17, 2012 

Three Points from N.C. State's 94-76 win over UMass:

1) Psycho T(J)?

Freshman T.J. Warren led N.C. State in scoring for the second straight game. Warren had 21 points against the Minutemen and made eight of his 11 shots. He had 22 points in Thursday's win over Penn State.

Through his first three college games, Warren has 51 points, has made 21 of 30 field goals and 6 of 13 free throws.

By comparison, Tyler Hansbrough's first three games at UNC in 2005-06 were: 54 points, 18-27 FGs, 18-27 FTs.

That's not to say Warren is Hansbrough, the leading scorer in ACC history, or will be, just that there is a Hansbrough-esque quality to Warren's game.

Like Hansbrough, Warren has a knack for being in the right place, at the right time and it's usually around the basket with the ball. Warren also uses unconventional (read: not always pretty) methods to score points.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried has used Warren as the first player off the bench, usually as a replacement for one of the post players but the 6-8 freshman from Durham is also adept at playing on the wing.

Gottfried has done a good job of mixing and matching lineups and moving Warren around.

"T.J. is a tough matchup for people," Gottfried said. "He can play on the wing, we can put him inside a little bit and move him back and forth.

"He's hard to guard in a lot of different spots on the floor."

One more common trait between Warren and Hansbrough: both played their first college game at 19. That maturity has helped Warren and will as the competition picks up and the stakes get higher as the season progresses.

2) There's a correlation between superior talent and free-throw attempts

N.C. State's free throw attempts through three games — 27, 18, 31 — compared to 19, 17, 18 for its opponents.

N.C. State, and other ACC fans, have long lamented the statistical advantage of Duke and North Carolina at the free-throw line. The hard truth is when your team is superior to the competition, the other teams have to foul to keep up.

That doesn't mean referees don't make bad calls, or miss ones, just that talent determines free-throw attempts, not the whistles.

This is a concept N.C. State will get the benefit from this season. The Wolfpack will have to take advantage of it better than it did on Friday.

The Pack made 16 of 31 free-throw attempts against UMass.

Forward Richard Howell, normally the foul-ee, was the main beneficiary of the fouls but also the biggest offender from the free-throw line (5 of 11).

"We scored 94 points and missed 16 foul shots," Gottfried lamented after the game (there was an official scoring change in the final box score).

Warren also needs to improve his free-throw percentage (46), which to go back to the theme, is a very unHansbrough-esque quality.

3) Run with N.C. State at your own peril

A day after grinding out a win over Penn State, Gottfried was practically giddy at the prospect of UMass's press and inclination to play up-tempo.

"We're a team, that if you want to press us, I think that we can make you pay," Gottfried said.

As Gottfried pointed out, in addition to suiting the games of Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie, the up-tempo helps Scott Wood. Wood had five 3s in Friday's win. Brown, who had 10 assists, usually finds Wood in transition.

"Scott was able to figure out it in the break and at the end of their press where to get open," Gottfried said. "He stepped up and made some good shots."

After Wood made his third 3 of the game, an opposing assistant coach who was scouting the game said, "That's not fair. They have (Leslie and Howell) inside and that kid on the outside?"

UMass coach Derek Kellogg reiterated the same point after the game.

"If they shoot it that way, they can beat anybody," Kellogg said.

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