North Carolina State wasn’t looking ahead to Christmas when they took on Jacksonville Friday night at PNC Arena.
In fact the Wolfpack were locked in from the start, taking care of business early, sinking the Dolphins, 116-64.
N.C. State starts conference play on the road against Clemson on Dec. 30. If the Pack were peeking ahead, they hid it well against Jacksonville. N.C. State led by 32 at the break, and didn’t let up after halftime, full-court pressing the Dolphins and cruising to a 52-point win.
“I’m very proud of our guys effort tonight,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said. “I thought that this was the best game that we’ve played as a team.”
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The Wolfpack had 28 assists on 42 made field goals and held Jacksonville to 27.8 percent shooting from three-point range, one of State’s biggest strengths.
Six players scored in double figures, led by Allerik Freeman, who scored a career-high 25 points. Freeman, the graduate transfer from Baylor, also knocked down a career-high seven three-pointers. He was 8-for-34 in the previous three games, but finished 8-for-15 against the Dolphins.
“Tonight my teammates did a great job of finding me when I had a lot of space,” Freeman said. “I saw the first one go down and from there it was a wrap.”
The Wolfpack connected on a season-high 19 three’s, including nine made three’s (9-16) in the first half.
“I’ve been telling everybody that this team shoots the ball very well in practice and at some point we would make them in the game,” Keatts said. “Obviously those guys did a tremendous job.”
N.C. State (10-3) never trailed and were never seriously challenged by the Dolphins (4-10). The closest the game got was a three-point Wolfpack lead in the opening minutes. Jacksonville pulled to within six, 21-15, after a slam from forward Jalyn Hinton, but N.C. State would use a 24-2 run to end any drama in this one. The only question after the first few minutes of the second half was how many would the Wolfpack win by.
In the last game out Allerik Freeman scored only nine points in a win over Robert Morris. It was the only game this season Freeman didn’t score in double figures. Two free throws late in the first half gave him his ninth and 10th points of the game and the home team a 28-point lead. His first two made baskets of the second half were both from three-point range, and he and his Wolfpack teammates didn’t let up at all the rest of the way.
“We were playing for each other and we made sure we wanted to have fun tonight,” freshman guard Braxton Beverly said. “We made a point of emphasis to have fun. It was have us playing harder, playing for each other and the end results, as you see, works out well.”
Sam Hunt finished with 20 points, including six made three-pointers. Torn Dorn (16), Beverly finished with a double-double, scoring 15 points to go along with 11 assists. Omer Yurtseven had 13 points and Abdul-Malik Abu finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
“It’s a great game to go into Christmas break,” Keatts said. “They’ll get a couple of days off to clear their mind and then come back and get ready for ACC play.”