The ‘real State’ buries Heels at own game
For about 27 minutes Saturday, N.C. State looked more like North Carolina than the team in Carolina Blue did.
It was the Wolfpack (16-4, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) pushing the tempo and creating easy shots in transition. N.C. State outscored the Tar Heels 20-0 in first half fast break points before pushing its lead to 28, then staving off a late Carolina charge in the 91-83 win, the first over the boys from Chapel Hill since 2007.
N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown was convinced the first half was the “real State.”
“The second half I don’t know what we did,” Brown added.
What Brown and the Wolfpack, who dropped one spot to No. 19 in Monday’s AP poll, did in the first half planted North Carolina (13-6, 3-3 ACC) in a 45-26 halftime hole.
Brown, who finished with 20 points and 11 assists, triggered consecutive fast break buckets in the first half with outlet passes to freshmen Rodney Purvis and T.J Warren.
“That’s what we do, that’s what we should be doing every game,” Brown said of playing up-tempo. “...They’re definitely a great fast break team and they shoot the ball pretty well so we tried to stop that.”
C.J. Leslie tallied 17 points and 10 rebounds for N.C. State. The junior forward said the Wolfpack is most comfortable playing at a high speed.
“We’re all about playing a fast-paced game,” Leslie said. “We knew they wanted to score out on the break, get very quick buckets. Our whole job is to make sure they come down to the end of the clock and we remain strong, rebounding.”
N.C. State outrebounded North Carolina 42-32. Richard Howell, who snagged 14 of those boards to go along with 16 points, said it was the Wolfpack’s best defensive game of the season.
“We were all over them on defense, created a couple of turnovers and easy baskets and were able to get out and run,” added senior forward Scott Wood, who had 12 points. “Anytime we’re playing defense like that, we’re hard to beat.”
Warren capped a 12-0 first-half run with a steal at midcourt, taking it in for a two-handed jam that brought the house down at sold-out PNC Arena.
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried told his team at halftime not to play passively.
“We wanted to attack them and run and run and run,” said Gottfried.
The Wolfpack did just that, stretching the advantage to 61-33 before North Carolina crawled back in the game, scoring 57 second-half points.
Gotffried said fatigue was a factor in allowing the Tar Heels to narrow the gap to as few as five points in the final 30 seconds.
Still, it was a win for N.C. State, a much needed one after a disappointing road loss at Wake Forest last Tuesday.
All four of the Wolfpack’s losses have come away from PNC. N.C. State travels to Virginia (14-5, 4-2) Tuesday.
“It’s a great feeling, but we’re still not satisfied with what we did today. We still have a long way to go,” Brown said of defeating UNC and Duke in the same season for the first time since 2003. “We can’t overlook other teams. That’s what happened against Wake Forest and they beat us. We can’t do that against Virginia.”
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