Quick hits and notes from NC State's 79-60 victory over USC Upstate in front of 5,178 fans at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh on a chilly, wet Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State got off to a slow start, which is not a surprise considering they had not played in a week and were also in the midst of final exams. USC Upstate jumped off to a 9-3 lead, and the game was tied 11-11 with 11:36 left when sophomore wing Scott Wood stole the ball on an errant Upstate pass. Wood outlet ahead to freshman point guard Ryan Harrow. Harrow had a one-on-one with the defender ahead of him, but he managed to get around the defender with a nifty behind the back dribble and laid the ball in to give State a 13-11 lead with 11:32 left in the first half. The Pack would never trail or be tied again.
Highlight of the game
The game was well in hand at 70-48 when the teams went to the under four minute official timeout with 3:55 left in the game. NC State designed a nice play coming out of the timeout. Harrow lofted up a nice, long alley-oop pass to freshman forward C.J. Leslie, who went high above the rim for a crowd-pleasing two-handed dunk to give the Pack a 72-48 advantage.
Player of the game
NC State got a significant spark off the bench from Harrow. With senior point guard Javier Gonzalez not at 100 percent and limping off the floor with 15:50 left in the first half, Harrow came in and got the Wolfpack offense on the run. He made 10 of 13 shots, most of them in transition, and finished with a career-high 20 points to go with five assists and no turnovers in 25 minutes. He also had a game-high three steals, which was another career-high. Harrow had scored just 25 points total in his last four games.
Other freshmen perform well
Freshman guard Lorenzo Brown also set a new career-high with 17 points, making 7 of 10 shots, including his lone three-point attempt, and both of his free throws. Brown added a game-high six assists with just one turnover and had five boards.
Leslie made 5 of 12 shots, including 1 of 2 three-pointers, and 2 of 3 free throws for 13 points to go with a game-high seven rebounds. The three freshmen were the only Wolfpack players to reach double-digits in scoring.
Banged up Wolfpack
Gonzalez appeared to have left the game with a leg injury, but head coach Sidney Lowe said after the game that Gonzalez has been slowed by abdominal pains over the past week. Gonzalez played just 14 minutes Saturday and finished with four points and two assists.
Not playing was senior power forward/center Tracy Smith. Lowe sounded optimistic after the game that Smith would be back in action next Sunday when the Pack hosts Arizona. Smith had what Lowe termed a good workout Friday, but he was not ready play against USC Upstate. Smith has missed six straight games now after undergoing knee surgery.
Sophomore center Jordan Vandenberg suffered an apparent ankle injury during the second half. He went hopping off the floor in clear pain, and after the game he was seen being fitted for crutches. Lowe did not know the severity of Vandenberg's injury. Vandenberg played 16 minutes Saturday and had five rebounds but no points.
How does the win compare?
This is the third time that USC Upstate has played a team from a BCS-level conference. They opened the year at Michigan and then at Virginia. Against the Wolverines, Upstate struggled offensively and lost 66-35. They played much more competitively against the Cavs, actually tying the game at 42-42 with 14:20 left before Virginia ended the game on a 32-12 run.
Reynolds popular with freshmen
Both Harrow and Brown remarked after the game how much they enjoyed playing at Reynolds Coliseum, especially with the students and crowd right on top of the court. Brown went as far as to say he wished the team would play all their games at Reynolds, while Harrow was more diplomatic in saying that the RBC "is great also."
NC State is now 10-0 in games played at Reynolds since the opening of the RBC Center in 1999.
What the win means
NC State improved to 5-3 overall, while USC Upstate is now 2-7. The Spartans have played Division I-A basketball for four years now and competes in the Atlantic Sun. Upstate won their conference opener over East Tennessee State Nov. 29.
This was the first ever meeting between NC State and USC Upstate. NC State is now 20-7 all-time against teams from the Atlantic Sun, 3-0 under Lowe.
Other stats of note
• NC State had a fantastic assist-to-turnover ratio of 20 to 7, while USC Upstate was 9 to 12. The Pack matched their season-high for assists set against East Carolina Nov. 18, and they had the fewest turnovers in a game this year.
• NC State outrebounded the Spartans 36-33 but was outrebounded on the offensive glass 14-11. State still had a 15-13 edge in second-chance points.
• NC State dominated in the paint to the tune of a 50-24 advantage.
• The Pack had a 14-8 advantage in points off turnovers and 19-8 edge in fast break points.
• The Spartans' bench outscored State's reserves 32-28.