His 31 create a buzz, but Warren happy with the 13
Most players would be ecstatic to score 31 points in a game, much less as a college freshman in the nation’s top conference against a team renowned for defense.
N.C. State’s T.J. Warren was indeed beaming amid beads of sweat as he explained his 31 points in an 84-66 ACC thumping of Florida State Tuesday night. But he was much happier about his 13 rebounds.
“Coach had stressed on me that I needed to start rebounding, and just crash the glass every possession,” Warren said of head coach Mark Gottfried. “That’s what I wanted to do tonight.”
Warren’s eight boards on the offensive glass led to nine of his points. In just his third start in 13 league games and fifth start of the season, Warren delivered a 12-for-15 shooting performance from the floor, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and made all five foul shots in 31 minutes.
“Our chemistry is coming together,” Warren said. “Everybody is playing hard and playing together, playing well.”
The Wolfpack (19-7, 8-5 ACC) won its third straight with C.J. Leslie adding 19 points and 10 rebounds, Scott Wood 13 points, Lorenzo Brown nine assists and Richard Howell eight points and seven rebounds.
“It all started on defense,” Warren said. “If we stop them and get the ball, we should be in good position. There is no reason we shouldn’t score on every possession with the type of team we have with Scott hitting 3s, C.J.’s athleticism, Zo driving and Rich knocking down shots.”
Warren’s 31 points were the third-most by a freshman in the Wolfpack’s storied history, just four shy of Ernie Myers’ 1983 record.
“We all know he can score,” Wood said. “He’s a real good player. We know he’s capable.”
Warren said the Wolfpack knew the Seminoles (14-12, 6-7 ACC) liked to gamble on N.C. State offensive sets.
“So coach stressed hitting them on the backdoor,” Warren said.
And the Wolfpack repeatedly did.
The Seminoles have made their mark with one of the nation’s best defenses in going to the last four NCAA tournaments. But Florida State had no stops when it needed them, never getting closer than 10 in the second half.
“We just wanted to stay aggressive on defense, get them out of their comfort zone,” Warren said. “They like to drive, so we wanted to push them far out and make them jump shooters. We did a good job of that tonight, just trying to get them out of the paint.”
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