There was a lot to like in N.C. State’s first college basketball game of the season.
The Wolfpack easily beat Jackson State, 93-58, and got big games from guards Cat Barber and Trevor Lacey.
After struggling in its only exhibition preseason game, the Wolfpack jumped out to an early lead and never looked back or was really tested.
Fourth-year coach Mark Gottfried will take the quick start, of course, but Hofstra (1-0) is expected to be more of a test Monday night.
The Wolfpack will need to be ready to build on Friday’s effort in some areas, Gottfried said, and expand on it in other areas.
While Barber (25 points) and Lacey (22) combined for 47 points, none of the four primary low-post forwards scored in double-figures. No other guards did either
“I still think we have to get some more out of our bigs,” Gottfried said. “The ball has to go in there a little bit more. Those guys have to learn how to post up a little bit more. We just need a little more offensive production out of those guys.”
Sophomore Kyle Washington led the N.C. State’s forwards with seven points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Lennard Freeman, who started and fouled out, had two points and three rebounds.
Sophomore BeeJay Anya had six points while freshman Abdul-Malik Abu had four rebounds and two blocks but did not score.
With Lacey and Barber both shooting well from the 3-point line (combined 6 of 10) and creating in transition, there wasn’t a lot of need to feed the post.
Washington took five shots, Anya had three and the group took 11 of the team’s 61 shots.
Gottfried said throughout the preseason that he expects to have more balance with this team than the one last season that relied on T.J. Warren, who led the ACC in scoring.
Warren and Ralston Turner were the only two players who averaged double-figures in scoring last season. Gottfried is hoping to have four or five players in that range, like his first two teams at N.C. State.
Guard Desmond Lee came off the bench and scored nine on Friday.
“I think our team is going to be different every night,” Gottfried said. “I don’t know that Trevor and Cat will lead us in scoring every night.”
Even if different players take turns scoring, Gottfried would like the shooting percentage (52.5) from Friday to stay in the same neighborhood.
He would also like to see the defensive effort carry over. N.C. State held Jackson State to 28.1 percent shooting from the floor (18 of 64) and finished with eight steals and seven blocked shots.
“Our energy defensively was really good, I thought that generated our offense,” Gottfried said. “I thought that set the tone for us.”