C.J. Leslie slams home two of his 11 points during N.C. States 84-62 win over Norfolk State
  • Chris Baird
  • C.J. Leslie slams home two of his 11 points during N.C. State’s 84-62 win over Norfolk State

PNC ARENA/RALEIGH—The counterpoint to derision over N.C. State’s yuletide nonconference schedule is that five of the seven teams the Wolfpack play between Thanksgiving and Christmas qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament. The fourth of that group is the Norfolk State Spartans, who shocked the tourney with an upset win over No. 2 seed Missouri.

Saturday night, however, the Spartans limped into PNC Arena with a 6-6 record that included early season losses to Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State and the University of Missouri…at Kansas City. And while Norfolk State would battle gamely for much of the contest, the size and speed of the Wolfpack inevitable won out to the tune of a 84-62 victory.

Although N.C. State (7-2) was statistically dominate throughout, it only led by three points with under five minutes left in the first half thanks to ten turnovers prior to halftime. However, a steal and dunk by Lorenzo Brown with 1:45 left before intermission gave the Wolfpack a 10-point advantage, one that would not drop below double-digits for the remainder of the night.

Five Wolfpack players scored double-digits, led by freshman T.J. Warren, who came off the bench for 21 points off 9-11 shooting. In addition, the 6-8 forward was 2-2 from 3-point range and is now 7-9 for the season from behind the arc.

Lorenzo Brown had his best game in weeks, scoring 16 while adding seven assists and four steals. However, the sturdiest stat line belonged to the ever-improving Richard Howell, who tossed in 12 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, five blocks and even five assists. It’s Howell’s fifth double-double this season.

Freshman guard Rodney Purvis said that Howell’s contributions are becoming multi-dimensional.

“[Richard] is a great outlet passer [along] with his rebounding,” he said. “Richard grabs every single rebound, so it gives me an opportunity to get out on the break more.”

“I thought Richard was spectacular tonight again,” added head coach Mark Gottfried. “He just gets every rebound, and he’s cleaning up some mistakes defensively when we make them.”

N.C. State played without center Jordan Vandenberg, who tweaked his knee during practice and was held out as a precaution. Indeed, the Wolfpack were coming off a week of final exams that disrupted their normal practice schedule in favor of—perish the thought—schoolwork.

“It’s interesting after finals you just never know,” Gottfried confessed. “Sometimes your team is lethargic because guys have spent more time studying. But, we had a good start to the game, so that helped.”

With the inconvenience of academics out of the way, the Wolfpack quickly return to the hardcourt this Tuesday, Dec. 18 when they host the Stanford Cardinal.