NC State 88 – Stanford 79
NC State is slowly but surely starting to gel. Tonight they laid on the gas a little bit more and started showing off what this team is capable of as they took down Stanford 88-79.
Coming into the game, Stanford was 7-3 and was riding the stellar play of NBA prospect Dwight Powell. They had come close to knocking off #12 Missouri and were looking to make their first big win be at the expense of the Wolfpack. But NC State wasn’t having it.
Scott Wood started out the game white hot, connecting on five 3s in the first 11 minutes and even sparking NC State on the defensive end with a few nice blocks in the middle.
“When you hit the first couple, just seeing those go in, really helps and it kinda gets you going.” said Wood. “I had a pretty bad stretch (over the past few games) so it was nice to really get it going like this.”
When Wood finally cooled off, he passed the baton to Richard Howell, who once again was in absolute beast mode. The big man doesn’t get the fanfare that CJ Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, or even his own beard does, but he’s been out there putting in major work. Sir Rich has put this team on his back and he’s determined to not let them fail, and he was at it again in this one. Richard gave the Pack another double-double with 17 points and 12 boards and had Coach Mark Gottfried raving about him in the postgame.
“You start to take for granted…I’m not, I’m saying don’t…what Richard Howell is doing. He’s going out there night after night getting double-doubles and he played tough again tonight.” said Gottfried.
What Gottfried is trying to say is that something special is going on here and fans need to pay attention. Richard Howell has gone from a pudgy, mopey, decent big man to a muscular, hungry leader who plays with aggression and passion and has no regard for life when he’s going for a rebound in the paint. His play was huge tonight for NC State.
While Wood and Howell both had big games, the biggest game was played by Lorenzo Brown. After struggling throughout the beginning of this season, Brown has turned it on lately and really came into his own tonight. Zo finally slowed down, attacked with purpose and stayed balance when he attacked the rim. He was totally abusing Stanford’s Aaron Bright , especially in the 2nd half . Brown finished with 25 points and 5 assists.
“We just really wanted this one and we got it.” said Brown. “We’re really coming together as a team. The young guys are getting more physical and making tough shots and us older guys are leading the way. We just wanted to come out here and win this one. Me personally, I’m just getting into a groove. I had a slow start to the season, everyones had slow starts, Michael Jordan even had a slow start one year.”
And while Brown, Wood and Howell were stealing all the attention, CJ Leslie was quietly putting up a nice line of 16 and 6. Leslie really held his own against NBA prospect Dwight Powell and was actually much tougher and more physical than Powell throughout the night and although Powell did score 23 points, it took him 21 shots to do it.
“Powell is a good player” said Leslie. “But we just wanted to come out and win this one. But I knew who he was, but it wasn’t a matchup I was really circling on my calendar or anything.”
Powell and Stanford never went away the whole night thanks to relentless defense, good rebounding and only 6 turnovers on the night. They played as tough as they could, and really never let up on defense, which makes 54% shooting even more impressive. The Pack, who is #1 in the nation in FG% actually shot better than their 52% average, which is really insane against a defensively disciplined team like Stanford.
Stanford did everything they could down the stretch but NC State’s athletes and Lorenzo Brown’s big night was just too much for the Cardinal as they rolled to a 88-79 victory.
Key Stats: State out-rebounded a very good rebounding team 37-35. NC State also out-shot Stanford 54% to 45%.
Quotes: Mark Gottfried
“I’m excited. I think it is another win against a team that is going to win a lot of games this year. I think Stanford is going to have a really good year, and in fact have already had a good year. I think Johnny Dawkins does a really good job.”
“I thought the first half, the Dwight Powell kid really hurt us. In the second half, Calvin [C.J. Leslie] did a better job on him. I thought we were pretty good at times defensively, but I still think we can sustain it longer. We are executing our offense better, we are improving offensively. Making better cuts, are strong with the basketball. Our knees are bent and ready. We are playing better offensively.”
“It was a very unselfish effort by our guys. I thought that stretch in the first half, where Scott Wood got loose and made some threes, was a really big stretch for us. It opened things up. It was nice to see Scott get going. He’s had some games where he was in some foul trouble. It was important for him to really play well, which I think he did tonight.”
“At halftime, the key was guarding [Powell]. We had to slow him down. I challenged Calvin to do it. I thought he did a much better job.”
“Bright and Randle never really got going for them tonight, and I thought that was good. They didn’t hurt us very much.”
“Lorenzo was able to penetrate in the paint and use his size. Bright is not real tall. He got down in the paint and used his length. The difference between him tonight and some earlier games this year, I thought he used his body, balance and control and came out with a lot of good percentage shots.”
“Richard, we are starting to get to the point where we are taking for granted almost that the guy is getting double-doubles almost every single game. Defensively, I thought he was really good. He is really stepping up and being a consistent, dominating kind of rebounder for us.”