RALEIGH — It took half a game for T.J. Warren to realize he was the best player on the court Saturday night.
Once he did, Warren led N.C. State to a 75-56 win against Eastern Kentucky at PNC Arena. Warren scored 26 of his 30 points in the second half to give the Wolfpack (4-2) its second straight win.
He needed a little push from his teammates at the half after a second straight slow start.
My teammates, they got into me at halftime, Warren said. They encouraged me and gave me a lot of confidence to go out and do it.
Thats what Warren did in the second half. He became the first N.C. State player since Rodney Monroe in 1990-91 to score 30 points in consecutive games.
T.J. just does what T.J. does. You cant motivate him, you just have to let him go, senior forward Jordan Vandenberg said. He has 30 points the last two games, I cant ask for any more.
Eastern Kentucky (6-2) flummoxed N.C. State with its 2-3 zone. The Wolfpack couldnt shoot over it and didnt have the patience to drive through it.
Warren had four points in the first half, while the Colonels led by as many as 10 points.
Were going to see a lot of zone, I think, this year, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. We better get better at it or were going to have some long nights.
Warren started to get aggressive early in the second half to help the Wolfpack attack EKUs zone. The Wolfpack took the lead for good, 36-35 on Warrens baseline jumper at 14:54.
Warren had three and one scoring plays, including a four-point play at 11:42, in the second half.
He did what good players do. He said, Im going to step up and get this done right here and he did, Gottfried said of Warren. He just took it over.
Warren had help with 14 points and eight rebounds from Vandenberg and 12 points and five assists from freshman guard Cat Barber.
Junior guard Ralston Turner came off the bench and had two key blocks. Turner only had four points but two came on a dagger of a dunk at 4:27 after a behind-the-back pass from Desmond Lee to make it 60-51.
N.C. State took control of the game with a 17-0 run to stretch a 54-51 lead to 71-51.
We had more energy, Warren said of the decisive second-half push. We wanted to get more stops and get out in transition.
N.C. State struggled in the first half to solve EKUs zone. The Wolfpack missed all seven of its first-half 3-point attempts and shot 32 percent (9 of 28) from the floor in putting up only 21 points in the first half.
Its not the first time N.C. State has had problems with a zone. In an 82-72 loss to N.C. Central on Nov. 20, the Pack was 3 of 20 from 3-point range.
The Colonels made five 3s, including one at the buzzer from guard Glenn Cosey, to take a 27-21 lead at the half.
The Wolfpack got a lift in the first half off the bench from sophomore guard Tyler Lewis, who made three jump shots in 4-minute span, but it led 2-0 and 4-2 and that was it for the first 20 minutes of the game.
N.C. State shot 65.6 percent (21 of 32) in the second half to make up for its first-half woes and put up 54 points in the process.
NC STATE 75, E. KENTUCKY 56
Percentages: FG .379, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 9-29, .310 (Cosey 4-9, Knipp 2-2, J. Johnson 1-2, Williams 1-5, Walden 1-6, Lewis 0-2, T. Johnson 0-3). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 2 (Stutz 2). Turnovers: 11 (Walden 4, Stutz 2, T. Johnson 2, Cosey 2, Knipp). Steals: 6 (Lewis 2, Walden, Stutz, Williams, Knipp). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .500, FT .684. 3-Point Goals: 2-14, .143 (Lee 1-5, Warren 1-5, Lewis 0-1, Turner 0-3). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 4 (Turner 2, Vandenberg 2). Turnovers: 10 (Barber 3, Lee 2, Warren 2, Freeman, Vandenberg, Lewis). Steals: 3 (Turner, Warren, Lee). Technical Fouls: None.
A10,221. OfficialsTim Nestor, Jeff Clark, Doug Shows.