Brown’s return helps Pack snap back

jgiglio@newsobserver.comFebruary 14, 2013 

Clemson, NC State

N.C. State's Lorenzo Brown (2) shoots while Clemson's Jordan Roper (20) defends during the first half of N.C. State's game against Clemson Sunday, February 10, 2013, at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Lorenzo Brown cramped up during N.C. State’s win at Clemson on Sunday and was dehydrated afterwards.

The junior point guard actually welcomed the relatively minor physical discomfort.

“It took my mind off my ankle,” Brown said.

Brown missed two games, and 30 minutes of a third, with a sprained left ankle. N.C. State lost all three games without him.

He returned against Clemson to total 15 points and four assists. The most important number was perhaps 32, as in the minutes Brown was able to play in the 58-57 road win over the Tigers.

Brown, who leads the ACC in assists (6.7 per game) said he’s still only about “85 percent” and that his ankle is still fairly swollen. That won’t stop him from playing Saturday against Virginia Tech.

Brown said he never felt right during the Clemson game not because of his ankle, but rather the cramping issues.

“I was catching cramps because I haven’t been running,” Brown said.

Brown, who had started 59 straight games before the injury, returned to practice this week but he has not been able to handle all the drills.

“I’m doing as much as I can do,” Brown said. “I’m trying to fight it out”

He turned his left foot going up for a layup in the first half of the game against Virginia on Jan. 29. He stepped on Virginia forward Darion Atkins’ foot before he went up for the shot, which is when the injury occurred.

Without Brown, N.C. State lost at Virginia, then at home by a point to first-place Miami on Feb. 2 and then at Duke on Feb. 7.

Brown was instrumental in the final moments against Clemson on Sunday. He made a pair of free throws, his only two attempts of the game, with 14 seconds left to cut Clemson’s lead to 57-55.

With 7.5 seconds left, Brown got the inbounds pass on the final possession and drove down the right side of the lane. The play was designed by coach Mark Gottfried to give Brown the option to shoot or find Scott Wood for a 3-pointer. Brown got past his defender but then saw Wood pop open.

“I was actually going to shoot the ball,” Brown said. “I saw that Rich (Howell) gave Scott a good screen and I know his shot is better than mine, 100 percent of the time, so I passed it to him.”

Wood buried the 3 with one second left to end the losing streak and help N.C. State improve to 6-5 in the ACC. Brown’s leadership was more important than any free throws or assists, Wood said.

“He knows the right thing to say and the right time to say it,” Wood said. “He holds everyone accountable out there so it was nice to have him back out there on the court.”

As much as his injury pained him, Brown said it was worse having to watch his team without being able to help.

“Sitting on the bench and watching, it’s not a good feeling,” Brown said. “When Scott’s shot went in, I was probably happier than anybody in the gym.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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