Growing pains: N.C. State wins landslide victory over Miami (Ohio) 97-59 | Sports

Growing pains: N.C. State wins landslide victory over Miami (Ohio) 97-59

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Freshman Tyler Lewis sneaks a peek at his layup during N.C. States 97-59 win over Miami (Ohio) Friday in Raleigh
  • Freshman Tyler Lewis sneaks a peek at his layup during N.C. State's 97-59 win over Miami (Ohio) Friday in Raleigh
PNC ARENA/RALEIGH—The last time N.C. State opened their basketball season in the AP Top 25 was 2007. Yet, while Duke took their usual place on the ESPN2 TV network for their home opener, anyone wanting to catch a telecast of the highest ranked team in the ACC had to buffer their way through ESPN3. In fairness, even the traffic police outside the [insert acronym here] Arena appeared to be only prepared for the 12,441 who ventured out for last year’s home opener, not the 19,065 who showed up Friday night to see the sixth-ranked team in the country. The consequential traffic snarl left a conspicuous number of empty seats at tipoff, a dilemma second-year Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried groused about without prompting during his postgame press conference.

The one group who embraced the changin’ times was the Wolfpack players. Admittedly, they were playing a Miami (Ohio) team that finished 9-21 last year and didn’t appear capable of much more this campaign. Still, No. 6 N.C. State seized the task, jumping out to 10-0 lead and never looking back in grounding the outmatched RedHawks 97-59. In between, the closest Miami (OH) would get was a 21-15 margin midway through the first half. However, the lead was back to 19 by halftime.

While only one RedHawk notched double-digits, six Wolfpack players reached that mark, including every starter and sophomore Thomas de Thaey, who entered the game with only nine minutes remaining but sank four field goals, including two three-pointers. The Pack was led by Richard Howell and freshman Rodney Purvis, who scored 16 points each; Howell also added 10 rebounds. Lorenzo Brown picked up where he left off last year with a stat line of 15 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. And preseason ACC Player of the Year C.J. Leslie added 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, but after the game said he was unaware that NBA scouts representing the Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves were in attendance.

Freshmen T.J. Warren (8 points) and Tyler Lewis (6 points, 6 assists) also enjoyed appreciable minutes, including a two-and-a-half minute stretch in the second half when Lewis tallied five points and a behind-the-back assist to Warren.

Gottfried appeared to spend much of the second half breaking in his new tires, at one point playing all three McDonald’s All-Americans at the same time. Indeed, the stock the program is already putting into their highly-touted newcomers was evident during postgame interviews when the four players made available to the press were vets Leslie and Brown…and frosh Purvis and Warren.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack partisans wore the wide-eyed look of kids on Christmas morning. Holes remain that could be exploited by stouter competition, including the team’s lack of height in the paint, sometimes lax perimeter defense (a problem Brown specifically mentioned after the game) and bench inexperience—talented freshmen are still freshmen. But for this night, visions of championship banners danced in fans’ heads, at least the ones lucky enough to find a parking spot or decent Internet connection.

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