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Wolfpack Blow Past Mountaineers 98-77

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NC State put on quite a show in their season opener against App State, winning 98-77 in impressive fashion.

TJ Warren led the way with 27 points, and juco transfer Dez Lee added 24 points as this young Wolfpack team gave their fans a lot to look forward to going forward. Here is a player breakdown of last nights game – and scroll to the bottom for press conference audio from Coach Gott.

TJ Warren– (27 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk)
Kind of what you expect out of Warren. He dropped 27 points and made it look pretty easy. A lot of his buckets were thanks to great vision by Tyler Lewis, but credit goes to Warren for always moving and always working hard to get open. In the first half it seemed like TJ was a little hesitant and kind of wanting to get others involved. He only had 6 points in the first half, but with the Pack only up 5 he knew he had to step up. He exploded in the 2nd half for 21 points and was unstoppable in transition. He added 8 boards and 3 steals and looked like a pro from every aspect. This is what we’ve come to expect out of Warren, and while I’m not sure that’s fair of not, it’s nice to be able to watch a kid this good every night.

Dez Lee – (24 pts, 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl)
Surprise, surprise, look who had his coming out party. Mr. Lee was outstanding all night long. We’ve been trying to tell you that this kid is a gamer and is going to be a star for the Pack, but tonight he showed it. He played with passion, poise and intensity. He drove to the basket with power and knocked down jumpers with ease. Lee’s offense was so good that you may not have noticed his defense, where he was in lockdown mode all night. His defense was strong, physical and gave nothing to the ball handler. Lee proved that he’s ready to not just play at this level but star at this level. He got his 24 points on 10-12 shooting and was outstanding on both ends of the floor. We’re really excited to watch Dez going forward. There’s no doubt he’s going to be a fan favorite this season.

Tyler Lewis – (15pts,6 Ast, 1 TO)
Lewis just keeps on impressing. The offense looked great tonight for large chunks of time and it was mostly thanks to him. The kid just gets this game. His vision is unreal and he’s making moves to set up moves 2 steps ahead. I think we’re watching a player that just doesn’t come along very often. Someone who is still this young, yet understands the game this deeply. In transition he is a nightmare for the opposition. There is just no hesitation and it’s as if he has a move or a pass for every situation and that he’s calculated all options as the defender makes his move (which really is happening in 1 or 2 seconds). It’s fun to watch and it’s something Pack fans are going to take for granted. We should all really take this  in and be grateful that we get to watch a point guard of this magnitude. Last night App State started out by really laying off Lewis and making sure he didn’t beat them with his penetration and dishing. They were able to do that, but Lewis made them pay with his scoring. He hit a quick 3 and a little runner to get things started. Then when App State started having to get up on him, he began his onslaught of getting in the lane and carving up the D before dropping off a dime to a waiting forward for an easy lay or dunk. It was another amazing performance by the sophomore.

Cat Barber – (13pts, 6 Ast, 2 Reb, 2 TOs)
Coming into the game, many were wondering where Barber would fit. With Lewis locking down the PG duties and Dez Lee looking like a perfect fit for the 2, how would they get Barber minutes? Well, Gottfried answered that question by rotating Barber, Lewis and Lee and also deploying a 3 guard lineup that was deadly quick. I think we got to see more of this because Ralston Turner was in foul trouble and there was really no other option. But I think it opened up people’s eyes, including Coach Gott’s. State was playing at a whole different speed when all 3 were in together. Warren was benefiting big time from all the commotion the guards were causing, and defensively they held their own when having to guard bigger players thanks to Lee and Barber’s versatility on the defensive end. What impressed me most with Cat was that he really played within himself. I think that was the concern all along. He was being overshadowed a bit by Lewis and I wondered if that would cause him to try to do too much, but he didn’t. He let the game come to him and he really attacked at the right times. He got into a nice rhythm late in this one and showed how electrifying he can really be. This is going to be a very fun kid to watch.

Lennard Freeman – (6 pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast)
I think the more and more we see Freeman, the more and more we’re going to like him. This kid is hungry when he gets in the game. He was throwing his body around and attacking the glass with tenacity. Freeman is built like a house. His shoulders are wide and his upper body is very strong and he’s only a freshman. As time goes by and he gets bigger and stronger, he’s going to be a real force in the paint for NC State. He’s already showing glimpses of Richard Howell type intensity on the blocks. His offense still need polishing, but he’s a hustler and he’s hungry on top of that. I was very impressed by Freeman in this one.

Kyle Washington – (0pts, 3 Reb)
Not much from KWash in this one. He played within the offense but wasn’t much of a factor. He was coming off a great game in the final exhibition, but remember he’s a freshman so inconsistency is expected.

Ralston Turner – (7pts, 3 Reb, 3 Ast)
Turner only got 17 minutes because of  foul trouble, but he looked good while he was in there. He’s going to see good minutes because he’s a very smart defender and he’s a high-end shooter, but on this night his foul trouble led to some nice finding for Gottfried. With Turner out he was able to experiment more with the Lewis, Barber, and Lee combo. He found that it is not only a viable option, but it’s one that can really make a big impact. Now, Turner isn’t going to lose too many minutes because of this, because his skill set is so different and so needed, but there will be night where you see Turner losing minutes to the 3 guard combo that Gott seemed to like against App State.

Beejay Anya – (3 pts, 1 Reb)
Only 7 minutes played for the big man, but he showed a little bit more tonight. He was able to really clear out the lane, however he’s just carrying too much weight. It’s holding him down to the floor and he’s just too slow and deliberate. He’s really going to need to trim up if he wants to be a difference maker this season.

________

Coach Gottfried Press conference audio

 

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NC State Basketball

NC State & Kansas Will Play a Home-and-Home Series Over the Next 2 Seasons in Men’s Basketball

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According to Matt Norlander, NC State and Kansas have agreed to play in a home-and-home series over the next two seasons in Men’s Basketball.

The Wolfpack have played the Jayhawks 13 times in a series that date backs to 1958-59, with Kansas winning 12 of them. NC State’s lone victory over Kansas was in the first game ever played between the two on December 20th, 1958. The 4th ranked Wolfpack won 66-63 in the Dixie Classic in Reynolds Coliseum.

The last time the two teams faced one another was in 2022-23, when the #3 Jayhawks defeated the Wolfpack 80-74 in the Battle for Atlantis on November 23, 2022.

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NC State Basketball

NC State is Adding UMASS’ Brett Nelson as an Assistant Coach

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According to reports, NC State is adding UMASS’ Brett Nelson as an Assistant Coach.

Nelson was only at UMASS for 1 season under Frank Martin. Prior to that, Nelson was the Head Coach at Holy Cross for 4 seasons, posting a 27-84 record.

Prior to taking the Head Coaching mantle at Holy Cross, Nelson was at Marquette for 5 seasons, spending the first 3 as an Assistant Coach, and the final two as an Associate Head Coach. Prior to Marquette, Nelson also served as an Assistant Coach at Ball St., Drake, Arkansas and Marshall.

Before coaching basketball, Nelson played for the University of Florida from 1999-2003. He was All-SEC twice, and earned Third Team All-American honors. When he left Gainesville, he was the Gators’ all-time leader in three pointers made, and ranked 2nd in steals.

As a Senior in High School, Nelson was a McDonald’s All-American.

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NC State Basketball

Ernest Ross Announces He is Returning to NC State

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Power Forward Ernest Ross announced this morning that he is returning to NC State for his final year of eligibility.

 

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Last Friday, Ross committed to UTSA after entering the Transfer Portal on April 17th, but it looks like he had a change of heart over the past couple of days.

NC State has been in desperate need to add a Big out of the Portal. They have hosted ECU’s Ezra Ausar and Georgia’s Frank Anselem-Ibe, but neither of them have found a home yet. With the addition of Ross, NC State has added depth in the Frontcourt, and unless something changes, their roster is full with 13 scholarship players.

Ross played in 14 games this past season, averaging 3.4 minutes per contest. After playing in 34 games last season, averaging 11.4 minutes per contest, Ross saw his participation dip to a career low this season, but that didn’t for a second break his infectious personality. On the sideline, you could count on Ross every single game to be the heart and soul of the Wolfpack on the bench. To watch a player who played as little as he did, care as much as he did, makes me super proud that this young man represented NC State so well.

Ross was a consensus 4-star player in NC State’s 2021 recruiting class, with 247Sports ranking him as the #60 overall player nationally. ESPN ranked him as the #5 overall player in the state of Florida.

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NC State Basketball

A Matchup Between NC State & Marquette Next Season Might be in the Works

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According to NCAA.com’s Andy Katz, a matchup between NC State and Marquette next season might be in the works.

This past year, the Wolfpack defeated the Golden Eagles 67-58 in the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

NC State and Marquette have played one another 6 times overall, with the Wolfpack holding a 4-2 lead in the series, winning the past two matchups.

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