No. 25 NC State beats Cleveland State 80-63

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters knew it would be tough to

match up with North Carolina State’s pair of big men with one of

his top forwards sidelined by injury.

Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie combined to score 36 points

Saturday in the No. 25 Wolfpack’s 80-63 win against the Vikings,

who played their third straight game without injured forward Anton

Grady.

Grady, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, was a preseason all-Horizon League

pick averaging about 14 points and six rebounds before going down

with a knee injury against Robert Morris on Nov. 20. He is expected

to miss about four weeks.

Howell, a 6-8 senior, finished with 17 points on 7-for-11

shooting to go with 10 rebounds for his third double-double in four

games. Leslie, a 6-9 junior, finished with a team-high 19 points on

7-for-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds, five of which were

offensive boards.

Reserve 6-8 forward T.J. Warren added 16 points for N.C. State

to keep the pressure on even when Howell or Leslie were

resting.

”They’re athletic and they’re long,” Waters said. ”That’s one

of the things that we have faced in the past when we go to the NCAA

(tournament) or anything of that nature. We would play against a

high-major team with a lot of length, and they have a lot of

length. That makes it hard for you to make layups and makes it hard

for you to do certain things.”

The Wolfpack (6-2) shot 55 percent and led by double figures

most of the afternoon in their annual return to Reynolds

Coliseum.

Reynolds was the Wolfpack’s home for 50 years before the program

moved off campus to PNC Arena for the 1999-2000 season. But the

school has typically played at least one game a year at Reynolds

for the past decade as a nod to the program’s tradition.

N.C. State improved to 14-0 in the building since its move.

Charlie Lee scored 15 to lead the Vikings (6-3), who got no

closer than 10 points after halftime.

N.C. State was coming off a 69-65 win against Connecticut in

Madison Square Garden for the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night,

capping a demanding first few weeks for the preseason Atlantic

Coast Conference favorite.

The Wolfpack lost to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tipoff

championship, then lost at Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

But things should get considerably easier with N.C. State starting

a six-game homestand Saturday that will keep it in Raleigh until

2013.