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December 19, 2012

NC State sharp in win over Stanford



NC State's energy and skill proved too difficult for Stanford to handle Tuesday in the Wolfpack's surprisingly efficient 88-79 win at PNC Arena.

NC State led wire-to-wire with senior wing Scott Wood sparking the Wolfpack in the first half, and junior point guard Lorenzo Brown taking care of business in the second. Wood hit five three-pointers and had 15 of his 17 points in the first half, while Brown ended up with 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second.

The veteran quartet of Wood, Brown, senior center Richard Howell and junior power forward C.J. Leslie, combined for 74 of the Wolfpack's 88 points, and it marked the fifth game this season they all reached double figures. Howell recorded his fifth straight double-double with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

NC State shot 56.1 percent from the field and had just 10 turnovers in running its UCLA offense smoothly. The No. 25-ranked Wolfpack improved to 8-2 overall and host St. Bonaventure at 3 p.m. Saturday.

"It could be anybody's night and that is what coach has been saying," Wood said. "We have a lot of guys that can score the ball, and that makes us a little dangerous."

Brown scored seven points during an 17-8 run for the Wolfpack to open up a 67-50 lead with 10:31 remaining in the game. Stanford whittled it down to 71-64 with 5:28 left, but the Wolfpack were never threatened down the stretch, due in part to Brown's outstanding game and ability to get into the lane and finish inside.

"I just took it upon myself and I know the team needed some quick buckets," Brown said. "They were coming down and shooting all kinds of 3s. This is our place and we don't want to embarrass ourselves out here."

The 6-foot-5 Brown was able to easily score over 5-11 Aaron Bright of Stanford.

"Best game he's had this year," NCSU coahc Mark Gottfried said. "When he got into the paint and penetrated, he was on balanced, he was under control and came out of there with good shots. I thought early in the year, he turned some of those into tough shots."

The Wolfpack were able to avenge last year's 76-72 loss at Stanford, which was marred by Leslie missing the stretch run of the game due to cramps.

"I can probably remember every game I've lost to in college," Wood said. "I'm out there to beat them."

Wood caught fire and stayed that way for the majority of the first, finishing with five three-pointers and 15 points to give NC State a 43-38 halftime lead. Wood combined to go 2 for 10 shooting for eight points in wins over Cleveland State and Norfolk State.

"Wood had a stretch there that was really important for us and for him to get back on track offensively, and shoot it really well," Gottfried said.

Wood said the game simply changed for him during the first half.

"It was like the Matrix where everything slows down a little bit and everybody looks like they are moving really fast, but you are still in slow motion," Wood said.

Wood's outside shooting was complement by the inside duo of Leslie and Howell, who played with energy inside to chip in a combined 14 points and nine rebounds in helping the Wolfpack shoot 17 of 31 from the field in the first half (54.8 percent).

NC State's defense also was full of energy, evidenced by eight blocks in the first half, which was more than the Wolfpack had in any game this season. Leslie, Wood and redshirt junior reserve center Jordan Vandenberg each had two blocks apiece to help hold the Cardinal to 44.4 percent from the field in the first half. The Cardinal finished shooting 45.3 percent for the game.

"I think our defense generated our offense again," Gottfried said. "We were able to get some steals, deflections and turned them into fastbreaks."

Stanford hung around despite NC State's energetic play thanks in part to junior center Dwight Powell, who dominated the interior for 15 of his 23 points in the first half. He added eight rebounds and four assists to complement his scoring.

"I'm excited about Powell's growth," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "He's showing us that he's capable of helping this team in a number of ways."

Powell's length, athleticism and range on his jumper proved difficult to matchup with for the Wolfpack, but perhaps most importantly, he didn't get Leslie and Howell into foul trouble. Howell picked up his second foul with 40.7 seconds left in the first half, and he only had three for the game.

With Howell and Leslie free of foul trouble, the duo had one of their top combined efforts. Leslie added 16 points and six rebounds to complement Howell's double-double.

"The type athletes that we are, if he can't get it [a rebound], I'll get it," Leslie said. "At the end of the day, one of us is getting the rebound."

Gottfried praised Leslie's defense in the second half against Powell.

"I thought Powell really hurt us in the first half, and didn't guard him as well as we could," Gottfried said.

Bright added 16 points and four three-pointers off the bench for Stanford, sophomore guard Chasson Randle had 11 and junior power forward Josh Huestis 10 points and eight boards. Stanford (7-4 overall) only managed six free-throw attempts, and was outscored 19-4 at the line.

"If you want to get to the foul line at this level, you have to take it harder to the basket, and show a little more wisdom in some decisions," Dawkins said. "We didn't get to the foul line enough tonight because we didn't do those things."


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