Behind 21 points from point guard Lorenzo Brown, No. 6 NC State defeated Belmont Abbey, 105-80, at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. in the Wolfpack’s lone exhibition tune-up before the start of the regular season.
“I think the takeaway from this game is that in the first part of the second half our shoes were squeaking, we were down and defending and our ball pressure was really good,” said NC State coach Mark Gottfried.
“That generated everything for us. We are a team with some young players in the game and we are still learning where to go with the ball. We have to work on our decision-making.”
Four other players scored in double figures, including 19 points apiece from Richard Howell and T.J. Warren, 18 from C.J. Leslie, and 10 from freshman Rodney Purvis.
This Wolfpack team will rely on production from young players like Warren and Purvis when they tip off the 2012-13 season, something that Gottfried has taken into account.
“We are still in the infant stages with some of those things,” said Gottfried. “I like what we are doing with some of those things. I like the fact that at times we made the extra pass.
“We still turned the ball over way too many times. We were careless. That is something we can’t do and we have to improve on.”
NC State opens the season against Miami (OH) on Nov. 9.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)