Chemistry builds in N.C. State win over Stanford

Dec. 19, 2012 @ 01:33 AM

Even on a night when his numbers didn’t swell, N.C. State freshman T.J. Warren turned in a linchpin performance. And even with plans for a short bench, the Wolfpack demonstrated chemistry and freshmen are developing.

In Tuesday night’s 88-79 win over Stanford in a non-conference intersectional clash in PNC Arena, Warren came up with big plays in the middle of a second-half spurt when the Wolfpack needed breathing room. He’s one of three freshmen prominent in the rotation of players, two of which regularly go for more than 25 minutes a game.

“He’s contributing a lot,” said Rodney Purvis, the other freshman piling up minutes, including with seven starts. “He’s one of those sleeper guys that is in the right spot at the right time. He’s always around the basket for easy chip-ins and things like that. He’s a really good offensive player.”

And the son of former Wolfpack standout Tony Warren is quickly losing an early career label as a sleeper in the lineup.

“He’s not a sleeper no more,” Purvis said with a laugh.

Warren, who came off the bench to shoot 9-for-11 and score 21 points in Saturday’s win over Norfolk State, had just four points on a season-low four shots Tuesday and grabbed five rebounds. But his impact was timely.

The nationally 25th-ranked Wolfpack (8-2) had leads of six and nine cut to one and two points, respectively, during the first half. N.C. State led 43-38 at the break behind Scott Wood’s five 3-pointers for 15 points.

Stanford (7-4) was left behind when Warren drove from the right wing for a pull-up jumper, then made a steal and converted a coast-to-coast layup in a 1-on-2 fastbreak for a 58-44 lead. Moments later, Warren’s rebound led to a Richard Howell bucket and Lorenzo Brown’s three-point play with 10:32 showing sent the Wolfpack ahead 67-50.

The Cardinal was never closer than eight the rest of the way.

“The freshman are starting to get into it a little bit more,” said Brown, who scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. “They’re getting a lot more physical, and making a lot of tough shots. That’s good for our team when they’re doing that.”

Howell added 17 points and 12 rebounds, Wood 17 points and C.J. Leslie 16 points.

“He’s a type of player, he finds a way to get it done,” Leslie said of Warren’s contributions. “Nobody knows how, he just finds a way.”

Head coach Mark Gottfried said 35 minutes for four starters wasn’t a problem, given the players’ age and ability. But he said he did want to use freshman Tyler Lewis and junior Jordan Vandenberg a bit more, declining based on matchups.

“And T.J., he’s going to score a lot more than that some nights,” Gottfried said.

He won’t be sneaking up on anyone when he does.

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.