Quick hits and notes from NC State's 88-59 win in front of a sparse crowd of 11,652 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Thursday night.
Play of the game
NC State had excellent passing Thursday night, getting 24 assists on 33 made baskets. No play better exemplified that than when sophomore forward C.J. Leslie made a nice pass to an open senior wing C.J. Williams, but Williams then made the extra dish to an even more open junior forward Richard Howell for a dunk, giving State a 36-20 lead with 2:37 left in the first half and the Pack's largest advantage before the break.
Highlight of the game
Northeastern freshman forward Quincy Ford missed a jumper, and Howell grabbed the defensive board. Wolfpack sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown sprinted down the middle of the court after catching an outlet pass from Howell, but he missed a contested shot in the lane. No problems for State though, as Leslie came flying over the crowd for a two-handed dunk follow with 17:20 left in the game, giving the Pack a 44-30 lead.
Player of the game
There were a few worthy candidates, but picking up where he left off after making the game-winner against St. Bonaventure Tuesday night in Rochester, N.Y., was Leslie. He made 6 of 9 shots, including his one three-point attempt, and 3 of 4 free throws for 16 points to go with eight rebounds and four blocked shots in just 28 minutes.
Leslie matched Brown for game-high in points. Leslie also did not turn the ball over for the first time in a game this year. Leslie had 23 turnovers in the eight games he had played prior to Thursday night, which was second only to Brown's 34 in 11 previous contests.
Brown nearly notched his second double-double in three games. He added nine assists to go with his 16 points in 31 minutes. Brown made 7 of 13 shots, including his one three-point attempt. This game helped Brown break out of a recent funk offensively scoring-wise where he had just 16 points in his last three games.
Howell had his second double-double of the season but first since the season opener against UNC Asheville Nov. 11 with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Howell made 6 of 10 shots in 30 minutes. This was the third time, and second game in a row, where Howell reached double-figures in rebounding. Howell went over 500 career points in the game, and his career total now stands at 512.
Williams continues his solid all-around play. He had 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, making 1 of 3 three-pointers, and added six assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes. Williams set a new career-high for assists, topping the previous mark of five set twice, including at Georgia Tech in 2009.
Seven-man rotation going forward?
For the first time this season, Mark Gottfried only played seven players against St. Bonaventure. He went that way again for most of the night Thursday, going with just fifth-year senior guard Alex Johnson and junior center DeShawn Painter off the bench until about eight minutes left when freshman forward Thomas De Thaey got some playing time.
De Thaey though responded with one of his best games of the year and was singled out by Gottfried in his postgame press conference. De Thaey, who has shot just 2 of 11 from the field in his previous five games, was 2 of 3, including 1 of 2 from beyond the arc for his first career three-pointer. He finished with five points, doubling his season total on the year, and had two assists, also doubling his previous total.
Johnson continues to break out of his shooting slump. He made 3 of 4 three-pointers Thursday night for nine points. In his last four games, Johnson has made 7 of 8 threes. Before that, Johnson was 3-of-25 shooting on the long range shots.
Had Johnson scored one more point, he would have given State five players in double figures scoring for the first time since the Duke game at the RBC Center last January.
De Thaey was not the only Wolfpacker to make his first career three-pointer. Freshman guard Jaqawn Raymond, who played the final two minutes, made 1 of 3 long range shots.
Northeastern probably ranks with Morehead State (Nov. 13) as the two easiest opponents that NC State has played this season, although Northeastern does own a win at St. John's to its credit. Nevertheless, NC State scored the most lopsided loss for the Huskies this year, topping the previous worst of 17 at La Salle Nov. 30.
State's 88 points were the most given up by Northeastern this season, and the 51.6 percent field goal percentage the second highest allowed by the Huskies. State shot 11 of 20 from three-point range for 55.0 percent, the most threes allowed and highest percentage from long range against Northeastern all year.
The 11 three-pointers also topped the eight made against Morehead State for the most in one game this year by the Pack. It also set a new standard for the best long-range accuracy for NCSU, bettering the 50.0 percent against No. 1 Syracuse Dec. 17.
State's 24 assists were just two off the previous high of 26 versus Morehead State. The 88 points and 29-point margin were also the second best behind the 91-61 aforementioned victory of Morehead State.
Commits spotted at the game
Forward T.J. Warren and guard Rodney Purvis were both at the game today. Purvis brought his Upper Room Christian in Raleigh teammate, junior low post player Tyrek Coger, to the game with him.
Former players Jeremy Hyatt and Jordan Collins were also spotted behind the bench.
What the win means
NC State improved to 8-4 overall and Northeastern dropped to 3-7, losing its sixth straight game. State is 2-0 against the Huskies all-time, winning the previous matchup 77-74 in 1984 in Reynolds Coliseum. NCSU is also 3-2 in the month of December, going over .500 after losing two of the first three games in the month.
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded Northeastern 41-28 and 13-9 on the offensive glass. The Pack had a slight 13-12 edge in second-change points.
-Both teams only had 10 turnovers, but State had a 15-11 edge in points off turnovers.
- NC State had a lopsided 21-6 advantage in fast break points and 38-28 in points in the paint.
- The Pack's bench outscored Northeastern's reserves 22-17.