Warren, No. 14 N.C. State edge Clemson
JAN 20, 2013 7:55p ET
A 6-foot-7 freshman, Warren was coming off a scoreless game in the loss at Maryland and had failed to score in two of the Wolfpack’s first four ACC games. So it wasn’t a complete surprise to see his initial entry into Sunday’s contest — with 10:21 left before halftime — a little later than usual.
But once Warren stepped onto the PNC Arena floor, it was almost immediately apparent he was a different player than in the previous point-less performances. He nailed a jumper while drawing a foul and converted the free throw for a conventional three-point play with 7:27 left before halftime. He hit a 3-pointer a minute later, had a tip-in 45 seconds after that and scored on a layup for his 10th point with 4:30 left in the half.
Warren put 10 points on the board just like that.
The explosiveness NC State has lacked coming off the bench arrived at a time when the Wolfpack was in need in its 66-62 victory. With leading scorers C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown netting just six points apiece and Scott Wood converting only two field goals, Warren’s 21 points may have been the difference between victory and defeat for the Wolfpack, who improved to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the ACC.
“He makes those mid-range shots that are hard to make,” said Clemson coach Brad Brownell. “Eight-foot banks; 12-footer on the baseline. He’s just an opportunistic guy. He got an offensive rebound late when it was an important basket. He’s really good.”
As noted, Warren’s offensive array was quite impressive, and how he goes about it is, too. Fundamentally sound, especially for a freshmen, Warren properly squares to the basket when he must, uses the glass (as Brownell noted) and he possesses the natural gift of terrific fingertips.
As impressive as Clemson center Devin Booker was in totaling 27 points, which at one time included 25 of the Tigers' 45, Warren had quite a run of his own.
From when Warren entered the game until he scored his final point, he had delivered 21 of the Wolfpack's 39 points. That’s actually a better percentage than Booker had. But Booker’s play was more demonstrative, complete with thunderous alley-oops and one-handed jams in traffic. But Warren’s “old man game,” as one local scribe called it, is almost in concert with his nature.
It had been a while, however, since Warren was this productive. He reached the 20-point mark in two of NC State’s first three games and was at 16 or more in six of the Wolfpack’s first nine contests, but hadn’t scored more than 13 points but once in NC State’s previous eight games before Sunday night. He failed to score Georgia Tech in addition to the Maryland game.
“I just think sometimes when you’re a freshman you go through that, good games and then you struggle and you’re up and down, that’s not uncommon,” NC State coach Mark Gottfried said.
Unlike a lot of players, especially young ones, Gottfried doesn’t get early reads on Warren after he enters games.
“Nah, Maryland was not typical for him, he went 0-for-6 and really they were good shots, he just couldn’t make any of them,” Gottfried said. “Tonight was a lot like a lot of his nights have been where he’s been really efficient scoring the ball and he does it in a number of different ways.”
And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Gottfried surely wants Warren to find a measure of consistency, but on nights when so much doesn’t go as scripted, it’s nice to have a guy that can provide off the bench.