Quick hits and notes from NC State's 77-42 win over North Carolina Central Saturday afternoon in front of a listed 2,217 fans at the RBC Center in frozen Raleigh.
Player of the game
NC State junior power forward Tracy Smith is being touted as a potential All-ACC candidate, so you would expect him to dominate against an inferior opponent such as North Carolina Central, and dominate Smith did. He finished with a game 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting and added five boards and two blocks. The only negative with Smith's performance was his 5 of 10 effort at the line. The point total marks the ninth time this year he has reached at least 20 in a game.
Smith has been on a roll lately from the field. He has made 34 of 47 shots in his last four games, or an impressive 72.3 percent. Smith is also leaving his mark on the ACC. Headed into Sunday's games Smith was fifth in the conference in scoring at 17.7 points, sixth in rebounding at 8.3 boards and second in field goal percentage at 57.1 percent. UNC sophomore power forward Ed Davis leads the ACC at 59.5 percent, but Smith had attempted 84 more shots from the field than Davis before last night's UNC-UVA game. Smith is also 10th in the conference in blocked shots at 1.2 a contest.
Second half domination
To say that the Pack played an uninspiring first half is an understatement. Against a grossly overmatched team, the Pack trailed for the first 13:22 of the game before senior forward Dennis Horner put the Pack up for good with a jumper to make it 19-18 with 6:38 left in the half. State led at the break however just 27-20.
The second half was more like what was to be expected, with the Pack scorching NCCU 50-22, shooting an amazing 18 of 23 for 78.3 percent. That was NC State's best shooting performance in a half this year. The Pack finished the game at 60.0 percent shooting (27-45), the first time State shot at least 60 percent since they made 64.7 percent against Georgia State Dec. 12. It was also State's third best shooting performance of the year.
Meanwhile on the other end of the court, Central shot just 5 of 30, or 16.7 percent. That was the lowest shooting percentage in a half against State this season, and the 26.5 percentage (13-49) for the entire game by the Eagles also represents the best field goal defense of the year for NC State.
Sophomore point guard Julius Mays received just his second start of the year, starting for junior Javier Gonzalez who came off the bench because of a violation of team rules. Neither point guard however excelled. Mays had just two points, five rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes while Gonzalez only added a pair of assists and a rebound in 16 minutes. The two combined points by Mays and Gonzalez is easily the fewest scoring production from the point guard position this year by State's two lead guards. The previous low had been when the two combined to score just eight points against Florida.
Horner had a solid game, scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds in 22 minutes. The six boards were the highest in a game for Horner since he also had six against Holy Cross Jan. 6. In the six games between Holy Cross and NCCU, Horner had a total of nine rebounds, or 1.5 a game.
Freshman forward Josh Davis came off the bench to score eight points on 2-of-4 shooting and making all four free throws. Coming into the game, Davis had must just 6 of 19 free throws, or 31.6 percent. The eight points were just two off a career-high for Davis set against Georgia Southern Dec. 12.
One more interesting note from the game, Smith was the only Wolfpacker to play 30 minutes. In fact, the next highest belonged to sophomore swingman C.J. Williams, who played 23 minutes off the bench. That's the most minutes Williams has played in a game since he was replaced in the starting line-up by fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand. In five previous games off the bench, Williams' highest playing time was 14 minutes.
What the win means
NC State improved to 14-8 overall while North Carolina Central dropped to 4-19. NC State has now won all three games they have played against Central, all of them in the past three years. State's average margin of victory in those three contests is 29.3 points. Central is averaging just 43.3 points a game in its series against NC State.
The Pack finished their non-conference slate with a 12-3 mark, matching the best non-conference record under head coach Sidney Lowe. State was also 12-3 two seasons ago.
The Pack finished the month of January going 4-5. Incidentally NC State has not had an above .500 record in the month of January under head coach Lowe. Their best monthly record for the first month of the year under Lowe is 4-4 in year two of his regime.
Other stats of note
• NC State outrebounded NCCU 36-24, but the Eagles understandably had a 11-10 edge on the offensive glass considering the two teams' shooting percentages. NC State still had a decisive 13-6 advantage in second-chance points.
• The Pack dominated in the paint to the tune of 42-8.
•. NC State only had 12 turnovers while Central had 15, The Pack also outscored the Eagles 20-9 in points off turnovers.
• Central did not run much at all in this game. In fact, they did not score once on the fast break. NC State outscored them there 20-0.
•. The Pack's bench had 33 points compared to just five for NCCU.
• NC State had 22 assists, tying for their second highest total of the year.