Quick hits and notes from NC State's 97-59 rout of Miami of Ohio in the season opener for both teams in front of 19,065 fans at the PNC Arena in Raleigh Friday evening.
Play of the game
Junior forward C.J. Leslie set the tone early Friday evening. On Miami of Ohio's first possession of the game, Leslie intercepted a pass from Miami junior guard Allen Roberts and went unimpeded for a high-flying one-handed dunk to give State a quick 3-0 lead. The Pack would go on to score the first 10 points of the game and never looked back.
The 38-point final margin of victory was the eighth largest for a season-opener in school history.
Highlight of the game
There were a ton of plays that could make the highlight reel as NCSU played at an impressively fast pace throughout the evening. One that stood out however was when junior guard Lorenzo Brown broke down his defender off the dribble and then fed Leslie for a dunk, giving the Pack a 35-20 lead with 4:26 to go in the first half.
Honorable mention goes to freshman guard Tyler Lewis' behind-the-back pass on the fast break to classmate forward T.J. Warren for the layup to give NCSU a 65-36 advantage with 10:37 left in the game.
Player of the game
It's hard to single out one player in what was a balanced effort. NC State had six players reach double figures. However, kudos go to senior center Richard Howell, who started the season off with a double-double of 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds, all of them on the defensive glass.
It's the second straight year Howell started the season with a double-double. He had 14 points and 15 rebounds in last year's opener against UNC Asheville, the first of what would be 11 double-doubles on the season. This was Howell's 15th double-double of his career.
The three McDonald's All-American showed why they were, well, McDonald's All-Americans. Guard Rodney Purvis got the start and finished with 16 points, matching Howell for team-high. He shot 6 of 11 from the field and made 3 of 5 three-pointers in 29 minutes. Purvis' 16 points matched Julius Hodge and Ryan Harrow for the seventh best freshmen debut in State history.
Warren was the first player off the bench and played 24 minutes. He made 4 of 7 shots but missed all three of his free throw attempts. He finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Lewis played 15 minutes and was 2 of 3 from the field, knocking down a couple of fast break layups that brought the crowd to its feet. He also has six assists against just one turnover. Only Chris Corchiani (10) had more assists in his freshmen debut.
Leslie nearly had a double-double of his own, contributing 11 points and eight rebounds. He only took five shots but made four and was 3 of 4 at the line. Leslie was also a force on defense with three blocked shots. This was the first time however in Leslie's career that his season-opener did not result in at least 20 points. As a freshman he scored 21 in his career debut, and last year he had 20 points in his first game of the season.
Brown had 15 points and seven assists, although he also had five turnovers including one stretch where he was stripped in the open court on back-to-back possessions by Red Hawks freshman reserve guard Reggie Johnson.
Senior wing Scott Wood had 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting, making 2 of 5 three-pointers. Wood entered this season with 230 career made three-pointers. The two Friday evening puts him 90 behind Rodney Monroe for all-time school leader in three-pointers made. Wood has made a trey in 28 straight games, currently the ACC's longest streak.
Even some of the deep reserves got into the act, especially sophomore forward Thomas de Thaey, who made 4 of 6 shots including 2 of 4 three-pointers for 10 points. That's double what his previous career-high had been. Senior walk-on Jay Lewis got his first career points when he made a three-pointer.
Spotted at the game
Several former Wolfpackers were behind the bench taking in the game. Regulars like Corchiani, Chucky Brown and Ernie Myers were there. Also spotted were Avie Lester, who was also Purvis' high school coach, Jeremy Hyatt and Marcus Melvin, who was sporting a beard that Howell would make Howell proud.
Top junior guard Grayson Allen of Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence School was also at the game. Allen has offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Miami, NC State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia Tech among others. Rivals.com rates the 6-foot-4, 185-pounder as the No. 45 recruit in the 2014 class.
What the win means
NC State remains undefeated in 14 season-openers at the PNC Arena, although this is the first time the Pack played in its home court since it was renamed from its former name of the RBC Center.
The Pack also improved to 82-8 all-time in home openers and 90-14 in season openers. They have not lost a home opener since falling to UNC Wilmington in 1992 at Reynolds Coliseum.
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried is now 12-4 all-time coaching season-opening games.
Friday night was the first-ever meeting between NC State and Miami of Ohio. The Wolfpack runs its unbeaten streak against MAC teams to 6-0. The RedHawks are now 8-17 all-time against ACC opponents.
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded Miami of Ohio 44-37, but the RedHawks had a 17-8 in offensive boards and 13-6 in second chance points. Part of that was because Miami shot just 29.0 percent compared to State's 61.4 percent shooting mark.
- NC State dominated in the paint and in transition. They had 46-20 and 31-8 advantages respectively in those two facets of the game. Both teams turned it over just 11 times, but NCSU also had a 16-9 edge in points off turnovers.
- NCSU's bench outscored Miami of Ohio's reserves 29-25.