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December 4, 2013

NC State tramples Northwestern

NC State played arguably its most complete game of the season Wednesday in dismantling Northwestern 69-48 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The Wolfpack's defense led the way in holding the Wildcats to 25.0 percent from the field, including 6 of 22 from three-point land. T.J. Warren led the NCSU offense with 16 of his 22 points to improve to 5-2 on the season. The skilled sophomore small forward has tallied 82 points over his last three games.

Warren had been exploding in second half of recent games, but decided to be aggressive early against the Wildcats.

"I just wanted to come out with aggression and make plays at the beginning and not wait until the second half," Warren said. "It worked out well tonight. It was a big win for and for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. We are doing our part for the ACC to show we are the best conference in the country."

NC State has been able to hold opponents to 40.4 percent or less in five out of seven games this season.

"I really liked our defense tonight," NCSU coach Mark Gottfried said. "The thing I liked about the 25 percent shooting, and they had some good shots that they missed and we can't take credit for every one of those, but our guys did a nice job of paying attention in practice and really try to take away the two, three things that they do well."

If it wasn't Warren with his versatile inside-outside game, then the offense sometimes came from a surprising source. Fifth-year senior center Jordan Vandenberg has proven to finish around the rim with thunderous dunks in transition, but the Australian deftly dropped a pair of dunks to finish with 12 points and five blocks.

"He [Vandenberg] has protected the rim pretty well so far, and he's altering shots and he's blocking a few," Gottfried said. "I think our guys are gaining confidence in him as well. We are a much different team when he plays well for us."

Vanderberg also got some help down low from freshman power forward Lennard Freeman, who recorded his first double-double of his NCSU career with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The one-two punch helped NC State hold a 38-10 points in the paint advantage.

Redshirt junior wing Ralston Turner also came alive off the bench with three three-pointers en route to 13 points. NCSU still struggled from three-point land, making 4 of 18, but did a better job against Northwestern's zone defense.

The Wolfpack executed well with just five turnovers, complemented by 16 assists on 28 made field goals.

"We knew we were going to see a lot of zone and we attacked it pretty well," Gottfried said. "We got the ball inside against the zone and penetrate against the zone, and get the ball around the rim a lot."

Northwestern fifth-year senior shooting guard Drew Crawford paced the Wildcats with 17 points, and sophomore shooting guard Tre Demps added 12 off the bench.

"They were really active on the defensive end and rushed a lot of shots," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "The presence of Jordan Vandenberg in the paint was big for them.

"T.J. Warren does what he always does and is a tremendous player. He did a great job in the first half and we had a hard time stopping him. It's tough when you have to keep grinding through when you can't put the ball in the basket."

Northwestern at NC State box score

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