Dennis Smith Jr. said before N.C. State’s game against Appalachian State that, the team had talked about getting their first blowout win.
It hadn’t happened all season.
But Thursday night, the Wolfpack (8-2) took care of business against App. State (3-6), 97-64, dominating from start to finish.
“We made a statement,” Smith said. “To ourselves. We’re proving to ourselves how good we can be. No disrespect to them, they’re not like the greatest team ever. They’re not the worst team ever, no disrespect. We set goals and achieve them.”
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After the game, most of the attention was on Turkish center Omer Yurtseven’s debut.
But the 33-point win was a blowout in large part because of N.C. State’s star freshman Smith.
The 6-3, 195-pound Smith, who was the No. 1 rated point guard in the country coming out of high school, finished with 22 points and six assists. He shot 5 for 8 from the floor and made 11 of his 12 free throw attempts.
“The refs were blowing the whistle pretty well tonight,” Smith said.
Smith was all smiles after the game. When one reporter jokingly asked “did he have a Merry Yurtmas,” in reference to the 7-foot Yurtseven, Smith said, “No, no no. I’m a Christian. I’m not going reach that level of blasphemy.”
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said Smith was terrific.
“Probably what I like most about Dennis tonight, and I think they were both in the first half, but he dove on the floor twice,” Gottfried said. “And to me that kind of just sets the tone for our team.”
Gottfried said he has talked with Smith about how much he has grown as freshman. Since the first two games of his college career, when he scored 11 and 12 points respectively, Smith has put up five 20-point games and one 30-point game.
“He’s seeing things defensively that other teams are trying to do, specifically for him,” Gottfried said. “Try to minimize his penetration, those type things. And so Dennis is aware of that and now he’s getting better and seeing things.”
Yurtseven, who had 12 points Thursday, said he and Smith help each other’s games. He said if the two players reach their full potential together, nobody in the country can guard them.
“He (Smith) can read the gaps and angles of the game,” he said. “When we play pick-and-roll he knows the angles to pass and where to dribble the ball. Some guards just play one-on-one and try to go by other players, and he just reads the game. And I know where to stay so he can pass me.”
Yurtseven shied away from drawing comparisons to other top duos. He called them a “new duo.”
“We’re Dennis and Omer,” he said.