ACC basketball: N.C. State 69, High Point 56
By Bret Strelow
RALEIGH ó N.C. State football players walked onto the court during a timeout in the first half of the basketball team’s home opener, and fans chanted the quarterback’s name before running back Andre Brown addressed the crowd.
Russell Wilson pushed the Wolfpack to a lopsided victory against rival North Carolina on Saturday afternoon (see page 6B), and shooting guard Courtney Fells provided similar leadership in a 69-56 win against High Point at Reynolds Coliseum.
Fells scored 23 points and provided an emotional lift against the Panthers, who had a vocal cheering section among the crowd of 6,200 inside the historic arena.
“I made reference early to Courtney Fells that that’s Russell Wilson,” N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said. “That guy who took it on his back and said, ‘OK guys, this is how we’re going to do it.’ Everyone else followed.”
Eleven of High Point’s 19 field goals were 3-pointers, and a jumper from Melvin Crowder gave High Point a 21-17 lead. The Wolfpack responded with a 12-0 run.
N.C. State (2-0) held a four-point lead early in the second half, and the Panthers (1-2) drew within 47-41 before the Wolfpack went on an 18-3 run.
Fells, who didn’t score in the first 10 minutes of the second half, had 12 points during the five-minute stretch that enabled N.C. State to take control.
“I thought I brought energy to the team tonight,” Fells said. “It was a close game and that’s a tough team to guard, but I thought we buckled down when we had to in the second half.”
Fells delivered several knockout punches, including an inadvertent one in the first half.
He pumped his right fist after making a basket in the opening minutes and accidentally drilled Steadman Short in the face. Fells attempted to apologize to Short, who didn’t return to the game.
An official later stepped in to separate Fells from High Point’s Eugene Harris after they pushed each other prior to an inbounds play.
“Where I’m from, if this game was on TV and they saw that and I didn’t push back, I would have been in trouble,” said Fells, who grew up in Shannon, Miss. “I probably wouldn’t have been allowed in my town.”
The Wolfpack played without point guard Farnold Degand, whose surgically repaired left knee is tender. Lowe said Degand will be out for about 10 more days.
Foul trouble limited starter Javier Gonzalez, who made back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half, to six first-half minutes. Freshman Julius Mays hit a 3-pointer during the run that erased High Point’s lead, and he finished with two turnovers in 19 minutes.
“He was solid,” Lowe said. “He ran the show and took care of the basketball. He did what we feel he’s capable of doing. Those guys are tough and put a lot of pressure on him, but he handled the basketball well.”
NOTES: Ben McCauley (12 points, seven rebounds) was N.C. State’s only other double-figure scorer. Brandon Costner had nine points and nine rebounds. … High Point’s Nick Barbour hit five 3-pointers and scored a team-high 22 points. … The Wolfpack will play at the RBC Center for the first time when it faces Winthrop on Tuesday.