NC State overcame a lackluster first half performance against North Carolina Central, scoring 50 second half points, in a 77-42 win at the RBC Center. Tracy Smith led the Wolfpack with 23 points and five rebounds on 9 of 11 shooting from the field.
The Wolfpack shot 60 percent from the field for the game despite the slow start and forced the Eagles into 26 percent shooting. NCCU, who has not won a game against a Division 1 opponent all season, shot just 13 of 49 for the game and turned the ball over 15 times.
Sidney Lowe said he had fun competing against his friend Levelle Moton, Central’s first-year head coach.
“It’s fun to compete against your buddies and he does a real nice job with those guys,” he said. “We’ve talked about players and recruiting. I knew he was going to come out and throw some stuff at us. He’s an excellent coach, an excellent guy. He’s going to get his guys in there and they’re going to be tough.”
The Wolfpack started the game as cold as the freezing temperatures outside the RBC Center, allowing the Eagles to build a six point lead with nine minutes left in the first half. State pulled ahead less than three minutes later and finished the first half on a 15-2 run to take a 27-20 lead into halftime.
In the second half NC State couldn’t miss, shooting nearly 8o percent on 18 of 23 shooting. Lowe said it was good to pick up a win — even though it came against a non-conference opponent — after dropping two straight ACC games.
“For us at this particular time it was good because we had a couple of losses and we’re trying to get back on track,” he said. “Now we’re going to get back into the ACC.”
Because of temperatures in the 20s and snow across much of the Triangle, Saturday’s crowd gave the Wolfpack little energy at the beginning of the game. Smith said it was weird to see so few fans in the RBC Center despite knowing that the weather would impact the turnout.
“They came out at the beginning of the game with more energy than we did. We knew that coming in,” he said. “Everybody said in the locker room that we needed to create our own energy and we did that in the second half. It’s pretty weird but we kind of expected that. We want to keep our fans safe.”
Richard Howell and Josh Davis played well for NC State off the bench, scoring eight points each in only 25 combined minutes. Davis, who has been a high energy reserve for the Wolfpack much of the year, said he just wanted to bring energy and help his team.
“I know I just play as hard as I can and give energy to the team,” he said. “That’s my job and I try to do it every game.”
Lowe said he was also happy to get other reserves, namely Deshawn Painter and Enrico Kufuor, minutes at the end of the game. Painter scored four points in four minutes and Kufuor tallied two, but it was effort plays from both that Lowe noticed.
“I was so proud of two things happened late. One was Enrico’s play and the other was Deshawn Painter when he dove for that loose ball and we got it That says a lot for that young man,” he said.”The game was pretty much over but they were continuing to play. That tells a lot about the character of them and this ball club.”