Published 12:00 am Monday, December 31, 2012
RALEIGH — No team makes shots more frequently than North Carolina State, and that’s largely because of the 23rd-ranked Wolfpack’s quality depth.
C.J. Leslie led five players in double figures with 21 points in N.C. State’s 89-68 win over UNC Greensboro on Monday.
Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown added 15 points apiece, and the Wolfpack (11-2) largely kept the Spartans off the boards after halftime while using a timely run to break open a surprisingly tight game. N.C. State outrebounded them 24-16 in the second half.
Richard Howell had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and T.J. Warren finished with 13 points for the nation’s most accurate shooting team, which shot 53 percent in winning its seventh straight, matching its longest winning streak since 2008.
“Not really caring who scores the ball, I think that’s what makes us dangerous,” Wood said. “There’s no particular one person that you can stop, and if you do try and stop those two, three people, then two other people have the ability to go for 20 in that game.”
Freshman Kayel Locke had 21 points for the Spartans (2-9).
“We made him look like an All-American,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said.
UNC Greensboro, the Southern Conference’s top 3-point shooting team, was just 2 of 17 from beyond the arc.
Leading scorer Trevis Simpson — who averages 20 points — was out with a freak injury: He hurt his right ankle while walking to the pregame meal, coach Wes Miller said.
“It is the darndest thing I’ve ever heard of in my entire life,” Miller said. “If that’s not freaky, I don’t know what is.”
Wood hit three 3-pointers in his second big New Year’s Eve against UNC Greensboro. He had a then-career-high 15 points against the Spartans on the final day of 2009.
His third came roughly 90 seconds into the second half and gave N.C. State its first double-figure lead at 49-38. That came during the 17-4 run that put the Wolfpack comfortably ahead for the first time.
When Warren’s three-point play with 13:43 left pushed the lead to 60-42, N.C. State was well on its way to its longest winning streak since the 2007-08 team also reeled off seven straight in Sidney Lowe’s second season.
Derrell Armstrong finished with 16 points and Kelvin McNeil had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans, who lost their fourth straight, fell to 1-48 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents and remained winless against them since 2007.
Still, at least early on, the Wolfpack — who entered shooting a Division I-best 53.5 percent — were rather imperfect in wrapping up a perfect six-game homestand that served as a tuneup for ACC play. The league favorites begin Jan. 5 at Boston College.
“There’s still a lot of things we can get better at, but everybody’s excited, ready to get going” in conference play, Wood said.
A depleted UNC Greensboro team, which at full strength was beaten by ACC members Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, gave N.C. State fits for the entire first half.
Locke had 12 points in the opening 20 minutes while picking up the scoring slack for Simpson, whose ankle popped when an automatic door at the team hotel caught him by surprise, Miller said.
“We rely so much — maybe too much — on Trevis offensively, and I thought guys really stepped up, not by one guy doing too much, but everybody kind of doing a little bit more,” Miller said.
The Spartans pounded the glass to keep N.C. State within sight throughout the half. The Wolfpack never led by more than eight, had zero second-chance points and had just two offensive rebounds to UNC Greensboro’s 10 defensive.
“We’ve just got to be a better rebounding team, period,” Gottfried said.