RALEIGH — The North Carolina State men's basketball came out aggressive and didn't let up in improving to 3-0.
NC State featured four players in double figures led by senior center Ben McCauley's 15 points and 11 rebounds to defeat Winthrop 74-48 on Tuesday in front of 12,190 fans at the RBC Center.
NC State will take two days off before returning to practice Friday, and returns to action Sunday with a home game against UNC-Greensboro at the RBC Center.
"Our passing was so much better, and guys were hitting open shots," McCauley said. "When you pass the ball, guys are going to get open shots. We concentrate on not forcing shots. Guys will get their shots as long as we are unselfish, and we are an unselfish team. There are going to be shots for everyone."
NCSU put together three crippling runs to create breathing room. McCauley sparked the first one scoring seven of the first 16 points to give the Pack an early 16-5 lead.
"We really focused in on this game," said McCauley, who recorded his first double-double since getting 19 points and 10 rebounds against Marist in the 2007 NIT Tournament. "Winthrop is probably going to have a good year and are a good team. I think they will do well in their conference.
"We wanted to come out and send a message early from the first possession on. We sent a message that we were here for business, and would do whatever it takes to win."
NC State went to its bench in mass with 13:32 left in the first half, but when the starters returned at the 9:07 mark, another run ensued. The Pack went on a big 16-2 run to build a 38-17 lead, with five different players contributing. The run helped NC State take a 40-24 lead at halftime.
Sophomore post player Tracy Smith sparked the third run in the second half, scoring seven of his 13 points during a 10-2 run which stretched the lead to 64-37. Smith added six rebounds and went 4 of 7 from the field.
"This is really the first game that we got a comfortable lead and to show our crowd how energetic we are," Smith said. "The second half, I just came out focused. Coach [Sidney] Lowe had a talk with me at the half, and told me to not rush any shots, and that I was doing a good job and I should let everything come to me."
McCauley said the three big runs were created because the team concentrated on pushing the ball.
"[Pushing it] is definitely a thing that Coach Lowe has harped on this year," McCauley said. "When we push the ball, guys get easy shots. We can either dump it in or guys get open on the wings. I think if we concentrate on doing that, we'll go on runs of 10 or 12 points."
Lowe and the players were particularly impressed that they committed only six turnovers.
"That's not bad at all," Lowe said. "I'm more pleased with that than just about anything. Just taking care of the basketball and giving us the opportunity. Our guys were very conscious of that. We executed and took our time, and pretty much got the shots that we wanted."
NC State was also able to create some nice transition baskets thanks to sharp passing. The Pack finished with 12 assists, but the unselfish nature of the team helped contribute to the balanced scoring.
Redshirt junior power forward Brandon Costner added 12 points and seven rebounds and senior small forward Courtney Fells chipped in with 10.
"Our defense [sparked us], because we were able to get some stops and get the rebound and push it," Fells said. "We beat them down the floor and maybe get an easy layup, or we ran our offense where they couldn't get into their zone defense."
Winthrop fell to 1-4 overall and was led by Cameron Stanley's 15 points and eight rebounds. The former Wake Forest transfer and Raleigh Millbrook High product was the only player in double figures for the Eagles, who shot 28.6 percent from the field.
"They have some big, strong guys inside, and we had to keep them away from the basket and not foul," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said. "Instead, we couldn't stop the ball from being posted, and every one of our guys had two fouls in the first half. There went to the free-throw line 16 times in the first half."
NC State finished 22 of 27 from the free-throw line, which made up for cold shooting from beyond the arc, going 6 of 21. The Wolfpack also out-rebounded the Eagles 45-37.
"If we rebound the ball, we can push the ball even easier," McCauley said. "When we get the other team getting only one shot, we can push the ball up the court and get some easy baskets like we did tonight."