N.C. State stymies Georgia Tech, readies for Duke

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 11:20 PM

Passing leadership examinations is getting consistent at N.C. State.

Georgia Tech felt the 20th-ranked Wolfpack’s talent in an 83-70 ACC decision Wednesday night in PNC Arena. The examinations won’t get much tougher than the nation’s top-ranked team Saturday when Duke visits.

“When you’ve got four returning starters, they understand how important it is to execute,” said Mark Gottfried, N.C. State’s second-year head coach.

In adding the Yellow Jackets to the league “W” column with Boston College, the hosts delighted a roaring crowd of more than 18,000 with precision on offense and stops defensively midway the second half. A tightly fought game of small leads and many ties quickly became a working margin of 10 as Tech failed to score, senior Scott Wood drained 3-pointers and junior point guard Lorenzo Brown crippled Tech’s defense driving in the paint.

“We picked up on what they were doing on the defensive end,” Brown said. “Our guys did a great job of holding them down in the paint.”

“He’s one of the premier point guards in the country,” Tech head coach Brian Gregory said of Brown, who scored 21 points and dished out 10 assists. “He’s proven that night in and night out.”

Gottfried said his team’s key defensive stretch, from midway the period into the final four minutes, may have been its most impressive of the season. He called the offensive execution to go with it pivotal.

Tech missed three of its four shots, turned it over twice and missed two of five free throws in falling behind by 70-60.

“We were getting hung up on the screens,” said Wood, who scored 20 points. “We made sure to box out, and the bigs, even if they couldn’t get it, they were tipping it around, and then we were getting it. We just kept getting in a stance and being physical.”

Wood made four 3-pointers, and Gottfried said his movement was key.

“When he gets a glimpse of daylight, he’s a threat to score,” Gottfried said.

The test Duke brings in Saturday will be similar, with high-octane from the wings and veteran savvy.

Said Richard Howell said, “If we play defense like we did tonight, Duke is going to have a tough time scoring on us.”

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.