RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — No. 25 North Carolina State’s unselfishness led to some big numbers for quite a few players.
The Wolfpack’s point guard nearly had a perfect night from the field, the freshman pure scorer had yet another 20-point game and the big man had his best night on the boards.
N.C. State routed Norfolk State 84-62 on Saturday night behind 21 points from freshman T.J. Warren.
Lorenzo Brown scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting and Richard Howell added 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for the Wolfpack (7-2).
“Our guys are really beginning to share the ball more, find guys and try to find someone who’s a little more open than they are,” coach Mark Gottfried said.
The Wolfpack shot 57 percent and broke the game open with a transition-fueled run that bridged the halves, forcing 16 turnovers and turning them into 21 points while winning their third straight and improving to 29-0 against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference teams.
“It was tough at the beginning (of the season) because we didn’t know what to do with all these scorers on our team,” Brown said. “I think we’re getting a little bit better with passing the ball, passing to the right guy at the right time.”
Malcolm Hawkins had 16 points for the Spartans (6-7), who lost their second straight — both against Top 25 opponents. They hung around in this one for the first 15 minutes, but managed just one basket in about 10 minutes while the game got away from them.
Norfolk State simply didn’t have anybody who could keep up with Brown, who had 12 points in the first half and was nearly perfect from the field: he made his first seven attempts before an ill-advised jumper with about 3 minutes to play was blocked by Rashid Gaston.
“He controls the tempo completely,” Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans said. “We couldn’t rattle him.”
Brown added seven assists and helped the Wolfpack pull away. He scored six points with two fast-break dunks during the 20-4 run that started in the first half, ended in the second and pushed N.C. State’s lead well into double figures to stay.
“Our defense keyed everything” during that stretch, Gottfried said. “We deflected some passes, we got our hands on some loose balls, we turned those into fast breaks. … (The Wolfpack) showed signs of a team that can guard somebody here and there.”
Brown’s fast-break dunk capped the burst and made it 43-26 with just under 18 minutes left. And after Warren’s layup gave the Wolfpack their largest lead at 54-32 with 13 minutes to play, Norfolk State didn’t get closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Gaston finished with 11 points for Spartans, whose top scorer couldn’t get anything going because he spent much of the night in foul trouble. Pendarvis Williams, who averages a team-best 12 points, finished with four on 2-of-10 shooting while playing only 16 minutes.
C.J. Leslie had 11 points, freshman Rodney Purvis added 10 and Warren reached the 20-point mark for the third time in his nine-game career with the Wolfpack, whose first game at PNC Arena since Nov. 23 paired two teams that had memorable runs nine months ago in the NCAA tournament.
N.C. State upset its way to the round of 16, a spurt that helped make the Wolfpack the preseason favorites in the ACC. The Spartans return one starter (Williams) from the group that as a No. 15 seed knocked off second-seeded Missouri.
Playing for the first time since final exams wrapped up, N.C. State received a brief but effective test from a pesky Norfolk State team playing four nights after losing by 10 at No. 10 Illinois. The Spartans clawed back from an early 10-point deficit and closed to 23-22 on Kris Brown’s layup with just under 7 minutes left in the first half before going cold.