Purvis back as starter, Wolfpack rock Reynolds
Freshman guard Rodney Purvis returned to the starting lineup and No. 25 N.C. State (6-2) cruised to an 80-63 win over Cleveland State (6-3) at Reynolds Coliseum Saturday.
Purvis, who finished with 11 points, didn’t start in the Wolfpack’s loss at Michigan or in the 69-65 win over Connecticut Tuesday at the Jimmy V Classic.
“I thought Rodney was great today,” said N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried. “He gave us a lot of energy, he was a spark. I thought he responded well to that. We’ll see what happens in the future, but I thought the way he played early was really important for us. It helped us really get off to a good start.”
Purvis’ block of Tim Kamczyc’s shot with six minutes to play in the first half brought the Reynolds faithful to its feet. The stop led to a Richard Howell lay-in on the other end, giving the Pack a 33-20 lead.
“Hustle plays, that’s really my role on the team,” said Purvis. “I just try to do whatever I can to help the team.”
N.C. State took a 47-32 lead into the locker room.
The Horizon League visitors trimmed the lead to 10 with 13:48 to go in the game.
But N.C. State answered with back-to-back drives to the basket and finishes from guard Lorenzo Brown, who finished with 10 points.
Howell, C.J. Leslie and freshman T.J. Warren joined Purvis and Brown in double figures. Howell had 17 points, Warren finished with 16 and Leslie had a game-high 19.
Howell also recorded his fourth double-double of the season, pulling down 10 rebounds.
Leslie reached double figures by halftime for the first time this season. He was 7-of-8 from the field on the game and 1-of-1 from downtown.
Cleveland State entered the game with wins over Grambling, Bowling Green, Old Dominion, Alabama-Huntsville, Ball State, and Toledo. Its two previous losses came to Michigan and Robert Morris.
“I think it’s a good win against a good team,” said Gottfried. “I think Cleveland State is going to win a lot of games this year. We’ve tried to schedule teams that we think are going to win a lot of games. I think they’re one of them.”
The Wolfpack are now 14-0 in games played at Reynolds since moving to PNC Arena in the 1999-2000 season.
“I kind of like it more because everybody is just right on top of you,” Howell said of “The Old Barn” atmosphere. “I feel like the crowd is more involved in the game than when we play at PNC.”
Wolfpack reserve Chase Cannon drew the loudest ovation of the night when he nailed a 3-pointer in the game’s final minute.
Saturday’s game marked N.C. State’s only contest at Reynolds this season, where the Wolfpack began playing in 1949.
“It means a lot to people. And it’s fun too,” Gottfried said. “How close (the fans) are to the floor — Our fans are loud and you could feel it in there today.”
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.