NC State 84, UNC Asheville 75

C.J. Williams had 18 points to help North Carolina State beat

UNC Asheville 84-75 on Friday night in Mark Gottfried’s debut as

Wolfpack coach.

Richard Howell added 14 points and 15 rebounds for N.C. State,

which had relatively little trouble against a veteran team coming

off an NCAA tournament appearance. The Wolfpack dominated the

boards and repeatedly got out in transition, taking a double-digit

lead barely 4 minutes into the game and maintaining a comfortable

lead the rest of the night.

N.C. State never let the Bulldogs (0-1) closer than six points

after that early flurry, running the lead out to as many as 19

points late in the first half and never letting the lead slip below

seven after halftime.

Matt Dickey scored 17 to lead the Bulldogs, who follow this game

with another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent – top-ranked North

Carolina – at home Sunday.

N.C. State was shorthanded for this one after the school

announced shortly before tipoff that sophomore forward C.J. Leslie

would miss three games after he and a relative received $410 in

improper benefits. But Howell more than made up for his absence

inside, showing off plenty of energy and improved mobility after

losing about 20 pounds in the offseason.

Howell had 10 points to go with eight boards by halftime, while

Lorenzo Brown was active at the point. He finished with 13 points

and nine assists, though he made his biggest impact early by

repeatedly getting hands in passing lanes and swiping eight steals

in the first half.

It was a performance that could give Gottfried both reason for

optimism and a list of things to work on at the next practice. N.C.

State’s players seemed comfortable pushing the ball in transition

early to play the faster pace Gottfried wants, though they looked

stagnant in the second half and unable to increase their big

lead.

Gottfried inherited a program that never lived up to potential

in five years under Sidney Lowe, who couldn’t get the Wolfpack into

the NCAA tournament or out of the bottom third of the ACC.

Gottfried certainly looked recharged after spending the past two

years as a TV analyst, spending much of the game on his feet and

actively pacing the sideline while yelling instructions to his

players.

He threw in a couple of animated responses to officiating, too.

After a borderline foul on Scott Wood in the second half, Gottfried

ripped off his black suitcoat in disgust and threw it angrily to

his chair. Seconds later, Gottfried sat down in the chair and – for

good measure – grabbed the coat and spiked it down again between

his feet on the sideline. He coached the rest of the game in his

white dress shirt and red tie.

N.C. State finished with a 50-36 rebounding advantage and shot

44 percent. UNC Asheville shot 35 percent, though it missed 11 of

12 to open the game and fall behind early.