Quick hits and notes from NC State's 84-75 win over UNC Asheville Friday night in front of 12,441 fans at the RBC Center in the season opener for both teams.
Play of the game
UNC Asheville was proving to be a pesky foe in the second half, refusing to quit despite trialing by 17 at halftime. The Bulldogs trailed 63-53 with 7:56 remaining. Coming out of the media timeout, freshman forward Tyler Harris picked a good time for his first career points. He nailed a three-pointer with 7:37 to go from the top of the key for a 66-53 lead.
Highlight of the game
Shortly after Harris' three-pointer, UNC Asheville senior guard Matt Dickey made a baseline jumper. NC State wasted no time responding. Fifth-year senior guard Alex Johnson immediately pushed the ball up court to senior wing C.J. Williams for a fastbreak, one-handed dunk, just four seconds after Dickey's shot.
Player of the game
When NC State was rolling in the first half, a big reason was the play of sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown. He had an impressive first half stat line of 11 points, highest total in the game at halftime, eight steals, four rebounds and four assists. Brown's previous career-high for steals in a game had been three.
He finished the game flirting with a triple double, scoring 13 points, dishing out a game-high nine assists versus just three turnovers, making eight steals and grabbing five boards in 34 minutes. Brown also set a career-high in assists in the process, topping the eight he had last year on two occasions.
Leslie, De Thaey do not dress
NC State announced 30 minutes before tipoff that sophomore forward C.J. Leslie was suspended three games and required to pay back $410 to charity for impermissible benefits he received from a former student at NC State. Leslie will return to action Nov. 19 when the Pack plays Vanderbilt in the Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.
Leslie borrowed a car after getting into an automobile accident, and his half-brother had the same former student pay for his application fee at an apartment complex.
NC State also announced that the school and NCAA are still investigating $1,349 in impermissible benefits the former student gave a former student-athlete at NC State.
Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried clarified after the game that freshman forward Thomas De Thaey is being held out for precautionary reason as the school and NCAA look into amateurism issues. There is no timetable for his return, although Gottfried is hoping that the issue will be resolved quickly.
Gottfried wins his first game as a Wolfpack head coach. In a light-hearted moment, Gottfried mistakenly called one official by his wrong name, and when corrected Gottfried replied, "I've been away for two years, I'm sorry."
Gottfried came over to the baseline and gave the Wolf symbol followed by a fist pump to the students seated behind the basket nearest to the Pack bench before the game. Gottfried's most memorable moment came when he threw his jacket to the ground in protest of a foul call on Wood with 10:19 left in the game.
Johnson struggled shooting in his official Wolfpack debut. He had to play 33 minutes because of foul trouble for junior wing Scott Wood. Johnson made just 2 of 12 shots, making 1 of 6 from beyond three-point range. He had nine points, five rebounds, one steal, one assist but also a game-high five turnovers.
Harris had eight points in just seven minutes, earning key playing time down the stretch. He also had a rebound and assist and turned it over just once. Harris entered the game for the first time with 1:24 left in the first half.
Big men double-up
Junior post players Richard Howell and DeShawn Painter both had double-doubles. The last time State had two players accomplish that in a game was last year against East Carolina. Ironically Painter was part of that, along with now Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow.
Howell finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds in 32 minutes. He also had four assists, two blocks and a steal without turning the ball over. Howell set a new career high for rebounds and matched the most blocks he's ever had in a game. The 32 minutes also equaled a personal best (he played 32 minutes at Duke last season).
Painter came off the bench and had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in 29 minutes. He set a new career-high in rebounds, blocks and minutes played.
What the win means
NC State remains perfect against UNC Asheville in 17 meetings. Former Wolfpacker Eddie Biedenbach, the head coach for the Bulldogs, is winless in five tries against his alma mater. Last season UNC Asheville upset Auburn in their season opener, en route to winning the Big South Tournament, advancing out of the NCAA play-in game and falling to Pittsburgh in the round of 64 .
Gottfried became the 16th head coach in NC State history to win his Wolfpack coaching debut, and he is 11-4 all-time in season openers. State improved to 43-5 in games played in November since the 2001-02 season.
Other stats of note
- NC State shot 43.9 percent from the field, making 29 of 66 shots. They made 20 of 28 free throws for 71.4 percent and were 6 of 19 from beyond the arc for 31.6 percent.
-UNC Asheville made just 23 of 66 shots for 34.8 percent, but they shot a respectable 40.0 percent on three-pointers (10 of 25), largely thanks to making 9 of 16 treys in the second half. They also made 19 of 26 free throws.
- State outrebounded UNC Asheville 50-36 overall and 16-14 on the offensive glass. The Pack had a decisive 24-13 edge in second chance points.
- NC State was much more aggressive in the fast break. State had a 23-7 edge in transition points.
- NCSU's bench outscored the Bulldogs' 29-16, and the Pack was more aggressive in the paint, using their decisive height advantage for a 42-18 edge in points in the paint.
- UNC Asheville had just 12 turnovers compared to 14 for State, but the Pack outscored the Bulldogs 16-11 in points off turnovers.