Wolfpack hopes to improve during hoops homestand

jgiglio@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2013 

N.C. State will play its next seven basketball games at home.

How successful an inexperienced Wolfpack team will be during this homestand, which starts Saturday against Campbell, depends on how much it learned from Tuesday’s 68-57 road loss at Cincinnati.

The Wolfpack led the Bearcats 48-46 with 11 minutes left in the game but then managed just two field goals in a six-minute span and was outscored 22-9 over the final 10 minutes of the game.

“We played with them for 30 minutes,’ sophomore point guard Tyler Lewis said. “Then we got out of our offense.”

Junior Ralston Turner, who scored 13 points, knew the Cincinnati game would be a test for the young team. He said there were signs the Wolfpack can put together a strong team.

“I think we did a lot of good things,” Turner said. “We did enough to give ourselves a chance to win the game, we just didn’t execute at the right time.”

A major part of the Wolfpack’s problem was at the foul line. State made just 12 of 21 free throws against Cincinnati, including a 3-of-9 stretch in the second half.

Turner hit four 3-pointers which kept the Wolfpack in shouting distance for much of the game on Tuesday. Turner said the Pack needs to keep its offense going for the whole game, not just 30 minutes.

“We learned down the stretch that execution is important,” Turner said. “We need to do a better job closing out the game.”

Sophomore forward T.J. Warren had 10 rebounds and finished with 13 points in 37 minutes.

But Warren shot 33 percent (5 of 15) from the floor and is being counted on for more than 13 points.

“He’s going to have to score more than 13 points for us to win,” said Lewis, who had seven points and three assists. “He knows that, I know that and everybody in the crowd knows that.”

Lewis said the team needs to use the next seven home games to hone their offense before a road trip to Tennessee on Dec. 18.

In addition to Campbell, the Wolfpack will play N.C. Central, Florida Gulf Coast, Eastern Kentucky, Northwestern, Long Beach State and Detroit.

Florida Gulf Coast was the only team that made the NCAA tournament field last year but Detroit and Long Beach were both NIT teams last year and Northwestern hired former Duke assistant Chris Collins in the offseason.

“Whether people know it or not, those are good teams,” Turner said. “We will be challenged.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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