by Neil Morris
Brown finished with 17 points on 7-8 shooting to go along with a game-high eight assists. Brown, who leads the Wolfpack in assists and is now tied with C.J. Leslie as the team’s leading scorer with 12.9 points-per-game, was one of five Wolfpack players with double-digit points against Western Carolina, paced by C.J. Williams’ 21 and Richard Howell’s 12 points and game-high 14 rebounds, his third straight double-double.
With a midafternoon start and semi-muted announced crowd of 13,429 seemingly already pacing themselves for a long night of New Year’s revelry, N.C. State started slowly with only three points over the game’s opening four minutes. However, a Howell jumper at the 10-minute mark of the first half gave the Wolfpack a lead that would never drop below double-digits and, in fact, would grow to as much as 41 points midway through the second half. In the end, the game became one for both stats and Staats (Battle).
Considering the margin of victory, it is rather surprising that the teams were not far apart in several key statistical categories: 14-12 in turnovers; 39-31 in rebounds; 8-5 in second chance points; 7-4 in steals; 7-6 in made three-pointers. The big difference boiled down to three sets of figures: the Wolfpack outshot Western Carolina 58 percent to 31 percent from the floor, outscored the visitors 34-4 in fast break points and dished out 25 assists to a paltry four for the Catamounts.
“We had a good time with this game,” said Leslie, mastering the art of understatement. ”Guys were being very unselfish and we’ve obviously getting ready for conference play…We were looking for each other and it was fun.”
Along with Brown, the improved play of Howell has been a key for the Wolfpack over the last several contests. The junior forward credits the loss of 20-25 pounds in the offseason for his improved play and opportunities.
“Stamina is playing a huge part,” said Howell. “I can get rebounds and stay on the floor instead of getting tired and having to come out of the game. The way we’re running in practice is definitely helping everybody’s stamina.”
N.C. State (10-4) completes their non-conference schedule at home this Wednesday against Delaware State. The Wolfpack then begin ACC play with two consecutive games at the RBC Center — next Sunday against Maryland and the following Wednesday against Georgia Tech.