Quick hits and notes from NC State's 91-61 rout of Morehead State in front of 10,082 pleased fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Sunday evening.
Play of the game
On the game's first play, NC State got good ball movement, and senior wing C.J. Williams found a wide open junior wing Scott Wood in the corner. Wood nailed the three just 16 seconds into the contest, and the Pack never looked back. State scored the first five points of the game, and was leading 15-10 with 13:49 left when they spurted a 33-14 run over the next 12 minutes to take a 48-24 lead with 1:33 left in the first half. Ironically Wood ended that run, and State's scoring for the first half, with another three-pointer, his fifth of the first half.
Highlight of the game
A year ago, with 25 more pounds on his body, junior forward Richard Howell struggled to make shots around the basket. This year, Howell was able to outfight a Morehead State defender for an entry pass from freshman forward Tyler Harris on the block, turn and sky for a one-handed dunk. Howell did that with 12:40 left in the game to give State a 67-35 lead. After his dunk, Howell, sporting a small black eye from the UNC Asheville game Friday night, could not help but let out a yell.
Player of the game
NC State had a decisive height advantage in this contest, and they were not afraid to use it. Morehead State's tallest player on the court was 6-foot-7, and nowhere near as skilled as Howell, who dominated in the paint. Howell finished with a game-high and career-high 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting. He was 3 for 5 at the line. Howell also had a game-high eight rebounds and added two assists and two blocks in 27 minutes.
Howell's previous personal best in scoring had been 18 points at Duke last season. His two blocked shots matched the most he's had in a game, which he had done twice before, most previously at Wake Forest in February. He also set career highs for field goals made and attempted.
Kudos to Painter
Howell was not the only player though that dominated in the paint. Wolfpack junior center DeShawn Painter was incredibly efficient from the field, making all six of his shot attempts and all seven of his free throws for 19 points in 27 minutes. Painter, who got the start over classmate Jordan Vandenberg after Vandenberg got the nod in the opener, added five boards and a pair of assists.
Painter set a new career-high in points, and he matched his best assist total of his career that had been set last season at Clemson. Painter's previous career-best in scoring had been 14 points versus Delaware State last year. The start was just the 12th of Painter's career.
Howell and Painter helped State have a dominating 40-14 edge in points in the paint.
Sharing the basketball
NC State had 26 assists on its 33 made baskets. In the first half, 15 of State's 16 made baskets were assisted. Surprisingly, that is nowhere near State's school record for assists in a game. The Pack had 35 assists in a contest against Wake Forest in 1983 and Brooklyn College in 1987. State would have needed 33 assists just to reach the top five for a single game.
Of course, there may be something into the way statistics were kept years ago compared to currently. Of the eight times State had 33 assists or more, the most recent came in 1991 against Maryland.
Compared to last year, State had 20 or more assists just three times. The Pack has already done it twice this year. NC State had 21 assists in the win over UNC Asheville Friday night.
Sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown led the way again, this time distributing six assists with just two turnovers in 26 minutes. Brown had nine assists in the opener. Fifth-year senior guard Alex Johnson added five assists off the bench.
Brown left the court with about six minutes left to have his ankle looked at after rolling it during a fall earlier in the second half. NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said it was too early to tell how serious Brown's injury would be. The Pack's next game is against Princeton in the RBC Center Wednesday night.
State's passing helped the team make 33 of 54 shots for 61.1 percent shooting. The Wolfpack only turned it over 12 times compared to 16 for Morehead State, and State had a 21-11 edge in points off turnovers.
Everybody loves Raymond
Wolfpack fans got their first glimpse of freshman guard Jaqawn Raymond. He played the last 8:23 of the game, missing his one shot attempt. His three-pointer was an air ball, but Williams was able to clean up the miss and lay it in.
Senior walk-on forward Kendall Smith and freshman walk-on guard Staats Battle both got their first action of the year. Smith made his one shot attempt in four minutes, and Battle connected on 1 of 3 three-pointers in three minutes.
Spotted at the game
Five-star recruit and NC State signee Rodney Purvis from Upper Room Christian Academy in Raleigh was sitting behind the Wolfpack bench.
What the win means
NC State improves to 2-0 on the season, defeating a pair of teams that won their respective conferences last year and reached the NCAA Tournament. Morehead State is the defending champion of the Ohio Valley Conference and upset Louisville in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
However, this is not the same Morehead State squad, as Gottfried admitted in his postgame press conference. The Eagles actually lost an exhibition game to Mountain State from West Virginia Nov. 3. Sunday was Morehead State's season opener.
This was only the second meeting between the two schools. NC State also won the previous match-up in lopsided fashion, 63-41 in 1997.
Other stats of note
- NC State had a decisive edge in fast break points, 16-4.
- Morehead State's bench actually outscored NCSU's reserves 20-15.
- State outrebounded the Eagles 34-23 overall and 13-12 on the offensive glass. The Pack had a 16-14 edge in second chance points. NC State's advantage on the offensive glass was impressive considering State shot 61.1 percent compared to 40.4 percent for the Eagles.