In a New Year’s Eve matinee at the RBC Center, the Wolfpack shook off a sluggish start to pull past Towson State 88-68.
Tracy Smith scored a career-high 31 points in 23 minutes off the bench [and made] 10 of 15 shots from the field and all 11 of his free throws for the Wolfpack (9-2), who rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the first half.
“I was just very energized coming into the game,” said Smith, whose previous career high was 14 points. “We started out slow, and I wanted to bring in positive energy. That’s what I did.”
Brandon Costner added 15 points and 10 assists for the Wolfpack, who led 46-41 at halftime after closing the first half on an 8-0 run. Courtney Fells scored 11 points for N.C. State, and Ben McCauley and Dennis Horner added 10 points apiece.
Wufpup76 added this personal impression of the game to another thread, and it’s well worth the time to read what he saw:
Friends and family only today at the Bank CenterÂ (attendance wasnâ€™t that bad, but it was pretty sparse.)Â Todayâ€™s crowd was definitely livelier than the other night against Loyola of Maryland. It wasn’t a terrible turnout for the afternoon of New Yearâ€™s Eve.
Towson played zone a majority of the time, and showed a lot of full court press today â€¦ State zone offense definitely gets an â€œAâ€ today – not an A+ b/c there were a few turnovers – but it was a very, very efficient Pack attack today against the press and zone.Â We forced them to switch to man a few times in the second half.
The zone offense was highly effective due to the passing of Brandon Costner and Dennis Horner and the positioning and spacing by Tracy Smith â€¦ I donâ€™t if Iâ€™ve ever seen a player use his body better and put himself in great position to receive the ball more than Tracy Smith â€¦ His 31 points came as a direct result of his getting into the right position time after time against the zone and guys moving the ball and finding him – especially Brandon Costner â€¦ It seemed that Costner had about 10,000 assists to Smith today out of the high low in the zone offense â€¦ McCauley is a great passer, but Brandon is pretty good in his own right â€¦ Also, Smith was 11/11 from the line – you read that right – great all around day from Smith.
Speaking of McCauley, he played pretty well today and fought hard, but heâ€™s been pressing a bit since the Marquette game and heâ€™s turning the ball over uncharacteristically down low â€¦ Heâ€™s either thinking too much when he gets the ball or is trying to react before heâ€™s really got the ball â€¦ Hopefully heâ€™ll snap out of this soon
Defense really picked up late in the first half and on into the second half â€¦ You guys can clown and rip Ferguson all you want, but in the 2 games weâ€™ve played w/out him we have struggled mightly at times defensively â€¦ This isnâ€™t because Fells canâ€™t cover the two effectively – itâ€™s because weâ€™ve got no one to cover the 3 effectively after moving Fells back to the 2 â€¦ Dennis is a really good kid and works hard and I love him – but he will never be mistaken for a defensive stopper â€¦ And CJ and JT just arenâ€™t ready yet â€¦ Ferguson is way better defender than he is given credit for – especially off the ball.
In fact, probably our most effective line-ups today came when both Mays and Farnold were in at the same time â€¦ This was a really effective lineup today – with Fells back at the 3 and Costner/Horner working the 4 â€¦ Iâ€™d like to see this more until we get Trevor Ferguson back.
Weâ€™ll see how we look Saturday at Florida â€¦ Hopefully weâ€™ll start out playing solid D and can cause some match-up problems for them down low â€¦ weâ€™ll defintely need both Mays and Farnold to be top notch Saturday and if Javi is available itâ€™s likely weâ€™ll need him too.
Also wanted to mention that Julius Mays is a really scrappy kid and doesnâ€™t back down to anyone â€¦ Heâ€™s definitely got a little bit of â€œJaviâ€ in him.
Thanks for the write-up, Wufpup, and as a reminder, if any of you would like to submit an article for the main page, please send it to us via email at statefans at gmail dot com.