NC State’s Keatts: ‘What a good game for us’
N.C. State couldn’t find the shooting range early in the its season-opener on Tuesday. Once the Wolfpack did, the floodgates opened.
Torin Dorn and Markell Johnson, two of the only holdovers from coach Kevin Keatts’ first season, led the Wolfpack to a 105-55 win.
Dorn scored a career-high 28 points and Johnson added 17 as the new-look Wolfpack threw a lot of bodies and lineup combinations at the Mountaineers but not many outside shots. At least not until the second half. N.C. State made just two of its first 12 3-point attempts and then made 8 of 10.
With 10 new players on the roster, including four who sat out or missed last season, Keatts figured it might be slow-going at the start.
“I thought our guys came out with a little bit of jitters to start the game and then once we settled in, I thought we played great,” Keatts said.
The Mount used a 2-3 zone, which Keatts predicted Monday, to dare the Wolpfack to shoot from outside. With guard Braxton Beverly sidelined for another two to three weeks with a hand injury, Keatts figured that would be the strategy.
N.C. State started 2 of 12 from the 3-point line and the Mountaineers were able to keep the game relatively close. They were down 10 points at the half and trailed 56-46 at 13:37 in the second half.
“I I think it was good test in the first half, we had some struggles,” said guard Devon Daniels, who had 10 points and six rebounds.
It wasn’t until midway through the second half that N.C. State was able to hit a few 3s and get a little separation. Johnson made a pair of 3s, the first at 12:21, and Blake Harris drained one, to spur a 21-2 run. N.C. State’s lead ballooned to 77-48 at 7:02.
N.C. State out-scored the Mount 65-25 in the second half and finished with a 52-30 advantage on the glass.
Some of the newcomers were rusty. Walker, a grad transfer from Samford, had five points and six assist. Junior guard C.J. Bryce, a UNCW transfer, added 16 points and seven rebounds.
“That was my first game in a long time, so I was excited,” Walker said.
With four player in double-figures and eight players logging at least 14 minutes, N.C. State kept coming in waves. They were able shake off the rust and work through the shooting rust.
“I knew we were going to start out slow but I’m glad we were able to finish the game,” Keatts said.