Quick hits and notes from NC State's 80-63 victory over Cleveland State in front of 7,234 fans at historic Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State began to roll about midway through the first half, and one of the plays that really sparked the Wolfpack was ignited by a terrific block from freshman guard Rodney Purvis on Cleveland State senior forward Tim Kamczyc's layup attempt. The block careened off the backboard into the hands of Wolfpack freshman point guard Tyler Lewis.
Lewis wasted no time racing down the court. He faked out a Cleveland State defender to open up the fast break, and then Lewis ended the play with the right pass to senior center Richard Howell for a layup and a 33-20 NCSU lead with 6:07 to go in the game, giving the Pack it's largest advantage of the contest to that point.
Highlight of the game
Off a nifty drive and pass from Brown, Howell threw down a thunderous right-handed dunk to shake the backboard and bring the crowd to its feet with 17:02 to go in the game. The basket put the Wolfpack up 55-39 and forced Cleveland State to call a 30-second timeout.
Player of the game
You could have gone with almost any starter for the Wolfpack or even freshman forward T.J. Warren off the bench. Our choice is Brown, who had the most difficult assignment of the afternoon. Brown finished with 10 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot.
More important is that Brown turned the ball over just once Saturday, and he held Cleveland State leading score Charlie Lee, a small (5-foot-9 is a stretch) but quick sophomore point guard, to just 5-of-14 shooting for his 15 points. Lee also had just three assists compared to eight turnovers.
Saturday was only the second game this year that Brown had just one turnover.
Other noteworthy performances
Howell recorded his third double-double in the last four games, his fourth of the season and the 17th of his career with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds.
Junior forward C.J. Leslie came close to a double-double himself. He had a season-high and game-high 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, including his first made three-pointer of the year. Leslie also had eight rebounds. Two more boards would have given Leslie his fourth straight double-double.
After starting the first five games of the year, Purvis came off the bench the last two contests. But Purvis was back in the starting lineup Saturday and scored six of NCSU's first eight points. He finished with 11 points and four rebounds in 27 minutes. Purvis has scored in double figures in four of his six starts.
Warren came off the bench Saturday after starting the last two contests in Purvis' place. Warren still played 23 minutes and had 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, making both of his three-point attempts. He had 11 points by halftime despite not getting the start. That's the third time this season Warren has been in double digits scoring at the break.
Overall the Pack shot 54.7 percent from the field, marking the sixth time in eight contests NC State has made at least half of its shot attempts. Saturday was the Wolfpack's fifth-best shooting effort of the year.
This was also the sixth time in eight games NCSU had at least four players in double digits scoring. The Pack is 5-1 in those contests.
On a day where even walk-on freshman guard Chase Cannon made a three-pointer for his first career points, senior wing Scott Wood misfired on all five of his shot attempts, including three three-pointers, and was just 2 of 4 from the free throw line for two points.
That is the first time this season that Wood, who had made 18 of his 40 three-point attempts coming into Saturday for a 45.0 percent clip, did not make a trey in a game. The two points represented his lowest scoring output since he was held to that few points in the ACC Tournament semifinals against UNC last season.
What the win means
NC State improved to 6-2 overall while Cleveland State dropped to 6-3. The Pack also won its first ever meeting against the Vikings and upped its mark against Horizon League opponents to 6-2 all-time.
This was NC State's 14th game at Reynolds Coliseum since leaving for the PNC Arena in 1999. The Pack improved to 14-0 in those games, 13 of them non-conference regular season action and one, a victory over Marist in 2006, an NIT contest.
Overall NC State men's basketball program is 603-177 all-time at Reynolds, a .773 winning percentage.
Other stats of note
- Despite being smaller, Cleveland State outrebounded NC State 31-28, including 14-9 on the offensive glass. That can partly be explained by the Pack shooting so well while the Vikings made just 43.9 percent of its shots. NCSU also still had a 12-11 edge in second chance points. This was the second-straight game however NC State has been outrebounded.
- NC State forced 18 turnovers, matching a season-high for a Wolfpack opponent. Massachusetts on Nov. 18 in Puerto Rico also had 18 turnovers. State turned it over 13 times, helping the Wolfpack pile up a 16-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
- The Wolfpack was better in the paint and in transition, outscoring Cleveland State 36-32 in the former and 17-2 in the latter.
- NC State's reserves outscored the Vikings' bench 21-10. In addition to Warren and Cannon's points, the Pack got a rare made jumper from redshirt junior center Jordan Vandenberg.