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November 18, 2012

NC State gunning for Tip-Off title



North Carolina State freshman T.J. Warren has been as good as advertised, and he hasn't even cracked the starting lineup.

He'll look to help the sixth-ranked Wolfpack capture the championship of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off as they face Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

The 6-foot-8 Warren, a McDonald's All-American along with fellow freshmen teammates Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis, is averaging a team-best 17.0 points and hitting 70.0 percent of his field goal attempts as NC State (3-0) has won by an average of 24.3 points.

He made 8 of 11 from the field in Friday's 94-76 win over Massachusetts, following up a 22-point effort in an opening-round victory Thursday over Penn State in which he went 3 of 4 from 3-point range and 9 of 12 overall.

Senior starters Scott Wood (15 points on five 3-pointers) and Richard Howell (19 points, nine rebounds) also had solid efforts.

"Our team is developing, learning and getting a little bit better with each day and (Friday) was a good step," said coach Mark Gottfried, whose team went 8 of 18 from long range. "Scott is smart enough to figure out what he needed to do to get good shots and he hit some 3s. T.J. was good for us off the bench.

"We had a lot of guys playing well."

Warren is playing 28.3 minutes per game, but he's yet to make his first collegiate start. It doesn't seem to bother him any, though, waiting his turn behind frontcourt starters Wood, Howell and junior C.J. Leslie.

"Everybody was making shots," said Warren, who helped contribute to the team's 56.5 percent shooting Friday. "I'm glad the older guys finally got into it and were making shots. I'm happy for them."

He'll look to help the Wolfpack — shooting 56.1 percent overall — open 4-0 for the first time since 2009 by knocking off Oklahoma State, which routed Tennessee 62-45 on Friday to reach the title game.

The Cowboys (3-0) didn't look impressive in their 73-65 win over UC Davis on Nov. 9 nor their 69-65 overtime victory against Akron in the first round of this tournament Thursday.

Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash, though, each scored 17 points Friday to help Oklahoma State remain unbeaten.

"We were able to go to a zone that enabled us to force them to take threes," said coach Travis Ford, whose team held the Volunteers to 5 of 23 from 3-point range. "It was our goal to have our four and five guys stay in the paint and force them to the perimeter to take three point shots."

The Cowboys have had to rely on their defense to start the season due to their struggling offense. They're holding opponents to 32.6 percent shooting and 58.3 points per game to offset shooting just 39.7 percent from the field.

"When you play defense and rebound the way we did, you give yourself a chance to win," Ford said. "We hadn't rebounded the ball that well this season until (Friday). We got guys the ball where they needed it to score and that was big in getting the win."

Oklahoma State did shoot a season-best 41.9 percent in Friday's victory.

The only meeting between the teams came in the second round of the 1991 NCAA tournament, when third-seeded Oklahoma State beat No. 6 seed NC State 73-64.




Oklahoma State preview

NC State 2011-12 roster

NC State schedule/results

NC State season stats

Oklahoma State roster

Oklahoma State schedule/results

Oklahoma State season stats

Game facts

Oklahoma State (3-0) vs. No. 6 NC State (3-0)

Game time: Sunday, Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m. — Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez, Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Television: ESPN2

Probable starters

NC State
PG — 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr., 11.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 7.0 apg, 2.0 spg)
SG — 0 Rodney Purvis (6-2, 195, Fr., 12.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg)
SF — 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.7 apg)
PF — 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr., 12.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.0 bpg)
C — 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr., 14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.0)

Oklahoma State
PG — 33 Marcus Smart (6-4, 225, Fr., 13.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.7 spg)
SG — 22 Markel Brown (6-3, 190, Jr., 15.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 bpg)
SF — 2 Le'Bryan Nash (6-7, 230, Soph., 17.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg)
PF — 21 Kamari Murphy (6-8, 210, Fr., 4.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.7 bpg)
C — 44 Philip Jurick (6-11, 260, Sr., 2.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg)

Oklahoma State

Location: Stillwater, Okla.

Nickname: Cowboys

2011-12 record: 15-18 overall, 7-11 Big 12

2012 postseason: None

Coach: Travis Ford, 16th year overall (274-201) and fourth year at Oklahoma State (63-37)

Series: Oklahoma State leads 1-0

Last meeting: Oklahoma State won 73-64 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 16, 1991.

Notes

Oklahoma State: The signing of freshman combo guard Marcus Smart was hailed throughout college basketball last year. Rivals.com ranked the power guard No. 10 in the class of 2012. Smart has settled in at point guard and has scored 33 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, passed for six assists and ended up with six steals in back-to-back wins over Akron and Tennessee. About the only major weakness is that he's still extending range on his jumper and is 1 for 8 from three-point land … Landing Smart came on the heals of getting the Rivals.com No. 6-ranked player in the class of 2011. Combo forward LeBryan Nash is off to a good start with games between 16 points and 18 in his first three contests. Nash averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds during his freshman season. He had a season-high 27 points against Missouri on Jan. 25, and cracked 20 points in six games … Junior wing Markel Brown is the third big scorer for the Cowboys. He averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per contest his sophomore season. Brown torched Texas Tech for a career-high 30 points on Jan. 31, 2012, and had three double-doubles for points and rebounds last year, and also went for nine points and a career-high 11 assists against Iowa State … Senior wing Jean-Paul Olukemi, who missed most of last year with a season-ending torn ACL, missed the win over Tennessee after injuring his knee against Akron last Thursday. The 6-6, 215-pounder averaged 11.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during the 2010-2011 season. He had 10 points and four rebounds in the season-opening win over UC Davis on Nov. 9 … Freshman combo guard Phil Forte, who was a high school teammate of Smart's, will likely play more in light of Olukemi's injury. The 5-11, 195-pound Forte was a deep long-range shooter on the prep level, and is shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range en route to 8.0 points per game … Philip Jurick, who started his college career at Tennessee before going to junior college, started in the win against his old school, the Volunteers on Friday … Sophomore wing Brian Williams (wrist) and sophomore power forward Michael Cobbins (toe) are both out indefinitely, with Williams likely done for the season.


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