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March 8, 2010

Quick hits from NC State's win over BC

Quick hits and notes from NC State's 66-54 win over Boston College in front of 15,104 pleased fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Sunday afternoon.

Play of the game

The play of the game was also probably the highlight of NC State sophomore C.J. Williams' career in a NC State uniform. The Pack trailed 49-47 with 5:36 left when junior post player Tracy Smith corralled the rebound off a missed jumper from BC junior Rakim Sanders. Smith quickly threw an outlet to junior wing Javier Gonzalez who found an open Williams across the timeline. Williams aggressively attacked the basket from the wing and surprised nearly everyone with a strong one-handed dunk, tying the game with 5:31 left. The dunk helped spark what was a 13-1 run for State that turned a 49-46 deficit with 6:34 left to a 59-50 Pack lead with 2:49 remaining.

Player of the game

Williams continues his recent trend of solid to strong performances. He played a career-high 35 minutes, making 6 of 10 shots, including 1 of 2 three-pointers, and finished with a season-high 14 points to go with five rebounds and a steal. Williams was just two off a career-high he set last season against UVA when he poured in 16 points.

NC State has won three of its last four games, and during that span Williams has averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 boards per game. Most of his minutes Sunday came from freshman wing Scott Wood and fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand. Wood and Degand played just 12 and 15 minutes respectively. For Wood that was a career-low in playing time.

Here's Johnny

Redshirt sophomore forward Johnny Thomas has typically been the last option among scholarship players on the roster this season. Thomas had only played in three ACC games this year, and he no longer even has a bio page in the game notes handed out to credentialed media before the game. However, based partly on a matchup against Boston College's physical wings, Thomas played a season-high 17 minutes Sunday, making his one shot attempt in the lane but more importantly getting six rebounds, five of them defensive. Most of Thomas' minutes came from freshman forward Josh Davis, who played just three minutes, matching his season low.

Three-point stat continues to hold

NC State made 5 of 12 three-pointers against Boston College, or 41.7 percent. The Pack improved to 11-1 overall and 5-0 in the ACC when they shoot at least 40.0 percent from long range. They are just 6-13 and 0-11 in conference action when they shoot less than 40.0 percent.

The Pack's second half effort offensively was one of the best of the year for State. They shot 13 of 22 for 59.1 percent, including 3 of 6 three-pointers. Most impressively is that after committing 10 first half turnovers, State did not turn it over once in the second half.

Perhaps the lone negative of the second half performance was sophomore guard Julius Mays missing the last of his four free throw attempts for the game with 51 seconds left. Mays had made 23 consecutive free throws before that miss and was 32 of his last 33 at the line. Mays has made 54 of 61 free throws this year for 88.5 percent. Mays had one of his better games in a while Sunday, finishing with six points and four assists with no turnovers in 23 minutes.

Interesting senior day

Before the game, NC State held senior day festivities for Degand and senior forward Dennis Horner. It was an interesting game in particular for Horner. He had a slow start, getting benched along with Degand and Wood just over two minutes into the game because of ineffective play as BC jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Horner's three-point play to give State a 24-23 lead with 57.3 seconds left before halftime were the lone points scored by the senior class in the first half.

Horner then took a hard foul from junior BC center Josh Southern with 18:15 left in the game, hitting his head on the floor and opening a cut above his right eyebrow. He returned the game and finished with a flourish. Horner scored 11 of his 14 points in the final seven minutes of the game, starting with a three-point play to cut BC's lead to 47-46 with 6:50 left. Horner also hit a pair of three-pointers in the final 4:26 to help put the game on ice.

Degand had a less memorable senior day, scoring just one point to go with one assist and a steal in 15 minutes.

Spotted at the game

NC State concluded its 100-year of basketball celebration by honoring former Pack players Julius Hodge and Kenny Carr in the first half and then honoring the late Norm Sloan by announcing an endowment scholarship in his name at halftime. Many former Pack players were on hand for the announcement, including David Thompson and Tommy Burleson who escorted Sloan's wife off the floor. Both head coach Sidney Lowe and assistant coach Monte Towe stayed on briefly for the halftime scholarship announcement.

Top senior forward C.J. Leslie from Word of God Academy in Raleigh, N.C., was in attendance with his family and high school coach. Fans chanted "We want C.J." in the second half, with Hodge leading the way. Also at the game were senior point guard Ryan Harrow from Milton High in Marietta, Ga., and junior wing Aaron Roundtree from Wilson (N.C.) Beddingfield.

What the win means

NC State improved to 17-14 overall and 5-11 in the ACC. The 17 wins are the most in a regular season under Lowe. They finish in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Virginia. The Pack though went 0-4 in games against those two teams and will be seeded 11th in the ACC Tournament as a result. Because of Miami's loss to Florida State Saturday afternoon, NC State is assured of playing in the 2010 ACC/Big 10 Challenge, a game that will be on the road.

State's first round opponent in the ACC Tournament will be Clemson scheduled for 9 p.m., Thursday night but more likely to start closer to 9:30 following the North Carolina/Georgia Tech game that will tip-off at 7 p.m. The winner of the Clemson/NC State showdown will face Florida State Friday night.

Clemson defeated NC State 73-70 Jan. 16 in Raleigh. That game was a tale of two halves as the Tigers jumped out to a 45-28 halftime lead, but the Pack methodically chipped away in the second half and has several chances to take the lead late in the contest but fell short.

Boston College now has a 7-3 edge in the all-time series with NC State, 4-3 in ACC games. NC State has won the last two games played by the two teams at the RBC Center. The Eagles fell to 15-15 overall and 6-10 in the ACC. They finished eighth in the ACC and will face ninth seeded Virginia in the first round of the conference tournament Thursday at noon. Ironically the Cavs and Eagles are the only teams in the league not to have an above-.500 record.

Other stats of note

- NC State outscored Boston College 32-24 in the paint.
- Boston College had 11 turnovers compared to State's 10, but the Pack had a decisive 17-8 in points off turnovers.
- NC State outrebounded BC 29-27, but the Eagles had a 5-4 edge on the offensive glass. Both teams had five second chance points.
- Boston College had a 9-8 edge in fast break points, despite State having six steals compared to their four.
- The Pack's reserves had a 25-21 edge in points from the bench.



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