Quick hits and notes from NC State's 77-67 win over Fairleigh Dickinson in front of 10,327 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Saturday evening.
Play of the game
A sluggish Wolfpack squad was up only 42-38 after a lay-up by Fairleigh Dickinson's Terence Grier, who scored a game-high and career-best 23 points in the contest. That's when NC State sophomore wing Scott Wood lit up the scoreboard. Wood connected on an open three-pointer in the corner off an assist from freshman forward C.J. Leslie to spark what would be a 10-0 run for the Pack, nine of them coming from three three-pointers by Wood.
A quick side note on Grier: his 23 points was the first time a Wolfpack opponent had a player score over 20 points in a contest this season.
Highlight of the game
Freshman center Jordan Vandenberg blocked a lay-up attempt by the Knights' Kamil Svrdlik, and freshman guard Lorenzo Brown grabbed the defensive rebound on the run. Brown pushed the ball up court, creating a two-on-one fast break where Brown found Leslie for a two-handed dunk to give State a 13-9 lead with 13:06 remaining in the game.
Player of the game
Each half had a standout. Wood scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Sophomore center DeShawn Painter was stellar in the first half with 10 of his 12 points, but the most consistent player throughout the game was Brown. He ended up with a team-high 13 points, although he shot only 3 of 10, and Brown added a team-high six assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots while being the only Wolfpack player to go over 30 minutes of playing time with 31.
There were a lot of ingredients that added up to a less-than-inspirational effort from NC State. Most of the students were gone on Thanksgiving break, and many Wolfpack fans were watching the football game on television rather than at the RBC Center. Even the band was limited in numbers.
Fairleigh Dickinson was also winless this year with a lopsided losses to Stony Brook and Albany at home, and State is about to embark on a two-game road trip to Wisconsin and Syracuse that will reveal a lot about the character of its basketball team.
Perhaps those are some of the reasons why NC State did not necessarily roll past Fairleigh Dickinson Saturday night. State struggled shooting, especially in the second half. They shot just 23 of 59 from the field for 39.0 percent, the Pack's worst shooting performance of the year.
Coincidentally, NC State did not shoot well against Tennessee Tech in the season opener Nov. 12, the only other game that State has played at the RBC Center this year. They made just 23 of 56 in the opener for 41.1 percent.
In two games the Pack has shot 46 of 115 field goal attempts for 40.0 percent. They have shot just 8 of 30 on three-pointers for 26.7 percent. Wood and senior guard Javier Gonzalez have made seven of those eight three-pointers at the RBC Center.
Fairleigh Dickinson guard Mike Scott nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He also added four steals. The rebounding total was a career-high for the 6-foot senior.
Scott, who came into the game averaging 21.5 points per game, was one of two Knights players to reach double-digit rebounding totals. Nate Gibbs, a seldom-used 6-foot-6 junior forward playing his first minutes this season, had a career-high 11 rebounds.
Fairleigh Dickinson ended up with a 46-39 rebounding advantage, including 17-13 on the offense glass. The Knights had a lopsided 21-11 advantage on second-chance points. NC State has now been outrebounded in three of their five games. Sophomore post player Richard Howell led the Pack with eight rebounds, but no other Wolfpacker had more than five rebounds.
Centers played well
If there was good news from Saturday's game, the combination of Painter and Vandenberg both had solid games. Painter finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes. Vandenberg played 16 minutes off the bench and added four points, a career-high four assists, three rebounds and another blocked shot.
NC State will take 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks from their center position until senior Tracy Smith returns from knee surgery in December. As a team NC State blocked 10 shots, the second time this year they reached double-digits in swats in a game. They had 13 against Tennessee Tech in the season opener.
What the win means
NC State is now 4-1 on the season and improved to 3-0 in the all-time series against Fairleigh Dickinson, who fell to 0-3 on the year. This is the first time though State has not piled up at least 100 points on the Knights. In the previous two games State won 111-76 and 104-65.
NC State is also now 10-0 all-time against Northeast Conference opponents, and the Pack is 86-11 at the RBC Center in non-conference games, 30-5 under head coach Sidney Lowe.
NC State's next game is Dec. 1 at Wisconsin. They close the month of November 4-1, improving their overall record to 22-3 in November under Lowe.
Other stats of note
- NC State had only 11 turnovers compared to 17 for Fairleigh Dickinson. The Pack also had a 23-15 edge in points off turnovers.
- In part because of the decisive edge on the offensive glass, the Knights had a 42-28 edge in points in the paint.
- Fairleigh Dickinson had a 10-9 edge in steals and an impressive 16-4 advantage in fast break points.
- State's bench outscored Fairleigh Dickinson's reserves 24-7.