NC State coach Mark Gottfried wasn't particularly pleased with his team's performance in the first half of the Wolfpack's exhibition game with Belmont Abbey.
However, the team, which is ranked sixth in the national preseason polls, stepped up its defense and started running in the second half. NC State opened the second frame on a 31-8 run in the first ten minutes and never looked back en route to a 105-80 victory at PNC Arena.
"Like in every early-season exhibition game, there's good, there's bad and there are things that, as a coach, you're always looking for your team to improve on," the coach said. "But, I like the fact that we scored 105. Yet, turning the ball over 23 times, we had the chance to score a lot more points. We turned it over too many times, so we have to get a lot better there.
"I thought we saw a glimpse in the first part of the second half of our team defensively. We looked pretty good and we have to sustain that for longer periods of time, but I like our defense at the start of the second half. We can learn a lot from today."
The Pack tallied 20 of its 33 fast-break points after the half, and the transition points helped State pull away from its opponents.
"We're a running team, so we're going to score a lot of points," freshman T.J. Warren said. "We have a lot of great finishers and athletic players, so we just want to get on the break and score as many points as we can."
"I think we did a good job, offensively and defensively [in the] second half," junior Lorenzo Brown said. "For us to score 100 in our first exhibition game is pretty impressive, but I think that we actually let them put up too many points.
"We had to make some adjustments during halftime, and I guess it worked out perfectly."
NC State opened the game with two of its star-studded rookies in the starting lineup. Freshmen T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis started alongside Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood.
"It was my decision [to not start Howell] that I made last night and I thought he did a nice job," Gottfried said. "He came right into the game with great energy, he didn't pout and he didn't put his head down. I'm not sure that's something we'll see a lot of, but I thought that was something important we needed to do today."
Brown led the way with 21 points, in addition to nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in just 24 minutes. Howell added 19 points and nine rebounds, while Leslie also chipped in 18 points and nine boards.
Warren recorded 19 points and seven rebounds, but the coach was pleased with the play of all three freshmen. Guard Rodney Purvis notched 10 points and four assists, while Tyler Lewis added four points and two assists off the bench.
"Our young guys are blending in pretty good and they just need to keep improving," Gottfried said. "They're very good players and I think the way we run the ball is going to give them some opportunities to play in the open floor. I think it's like every young player in America - they're trying to find out where they fit into the system and they are still learning that. I think they are all different and unique and I think they all can certainly help us, which they will."
Final statistics from the game are below:
Rodney Purvis - 25 min, 10 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 1 block, 4 turnovers
Lorenzo Brown - 24 min, 21 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 4 turnovers
C.J. Leslie - 26 min, 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers
Scott Wood - 25 min, 8 points, 1 block, 2 steals
T.J. Warren - 29 min, 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 1 turnover
Richard Howell - 20 min, 19 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 3 steals, 3 turnovers
Tyler Lewis - 18 min, 4 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 4 turnovers
Thomas de Thaey - 15 min, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Jordan Vandenberg - 10 min, 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 3 turnovers
Chase Cannon - 2 min, 1 assist
Jay Lewis - 2 min, 1 assist, 1 turnover
Staats Battle - 2 min, 1 rebound, 1 steal
Jevoni Robinson - 2 min, 2 points, 1 rebound