N.C. State finds way to win over Clemson

Jan. 21, 2013 @ 08:22 PM

N.C. State’s newfound offensive woes reemerged in the second half of
Sunday’s 66-62 win over Clemson, but unlike last Wednesday at Maryland, the Wolfpack found different ways to grind out a win.

N.C. State, the 11th best scoring team in the nation, was held to 50 points in the one-point loss in College Park.

The Wolfpack (15-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who visit Wake Forest (9-8, 2-3) Tuesday, came out on fire Sunday behind Rodney Purvis’ three 3-pointers in the game’s first five minutes. But the hot shooting tapered off in the second half as State shot 36 percent from the field, down from 53.8 in the first half.

“It’s hard to stay at a high, high level offensively every single night,” said Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried. “On those nights when you’re not putting the ball in the basket…you have to find different ways to win. That’s part of the game.”

Freshman T.J. Warren was putting the ball in the basket for N.C. State, which dropped four spots to 18th in Monday’s Associated Press poll.

Warren finished with 21 points, one shy of his career high, helping his team overcome a monster 27-point performance from Devin Booker of Clemson (10-7, 2-3).

“We won. That’s all that matters,” said Warren.

Booker had 18 of the Tigers’ 26 halftime points. Gottfried put C.J. Leslie on Booker in the second half, taking the defensive assignment from Richard Howell, who was playing under the weather.

Leslie and the Wolfpack held Clemson’s leading scorer to no points in the game’s final eight minutes.
“I thought (C.J.) just did a much better job of moving his feet, using his quickness, trying to deny him the ball, not letting him go in so easy,” said Gottfried. “That probably helped us more than anything with (Booker).”

Purvis, Scott Wood and Howell each finished with 11 points. Leslie had six.

Howell shot just 4-of-12 from the floor, but posted his sixth consecutive double-figure rebounding game with 12 and converted six consecutive Wolfpack points down the stretch, including a two-hand stuff to put State up three with 2:40 to play.

“I liked the fact that Richard went up and dunked that one at a key time,” said Gottfried. “He removed all doubt and dunked it.”

Both Howell, and Gottfried said missing easy baskets has played a role in the team’s offensive decline.
“We seem to be right there at the rim a lot. You just can’t get it in the basket,” said Gottfried. “Most of this season we haven’t had trouble scoring those. It’s the difference in us getting 66 and probably 76. Just concentrating and making some shots around the rim a little more.”

Howell said it was important to get a win with the offensive output not as prolific as it has been throughout the season.

“It’s very important because it’s going to be games when the ball is not going in the basket,” said Howell, “and we just have to pick it up on the defensive end and other areas, and that’s what we did.”

Those other areas included free throws Sunday. Wood was 5-of-6 at the charity stripe in the game’s final 30 seconds. He shot 2-of-5 from beyond the arc.

“It just gives us that confidence to know that we’ve been in a couple of grind-it-out games and we’ve come out on top,” Wood said of finding ways to win.

Purvis’ 3-point shooting in the first half electrified the Military Appreciation Day, blackout crowd at PNC Arena. The freshman’s third triple gave the Pack a 13-2 lead.

“Rodney starts off, gets nine points quick,” said Gottfried. “T.J. comes in and gets some points, Scott had a couple of big ones. That’s part of having different guys that can step up and score.”

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.