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Smith, Rowan lead NC State past McNeese

N.C. State wins

North Carolina State's Dennis Smith Jr. (4) slams in two as McNeese's Kalob Ledoux (11) watches  during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Raleigh, N.C. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr. (4) slams in two as McNeese’s Kalob Ledoux (11) watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 in Raleigh, N.C. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

By Aaron Beard

AP Basketball Writer

RALEIGH (AP) — Dennis Smith Jr. scored 23 points to help North Carolina State beat McNeese State 89-57 on Thursday night.

Maverick Rowan added 15 points for the Wolfpack (10-2), who won their fifth straight game. Smith had an opening burst with a breakaway, reverse dunk and a pair of 3-pointers on the way to a 9-for-12 shooting day, helping N.C. State build a quick double-digit lead and cruise to a third-straight win by at least 20 points.

Rowan missed seven straight games with a concussion before returning during the overtime win against Tennessee State on Dec. 10. This marked his second double-digit scoring effort in three games since and he has made 9 of 21 3-pointers (43 percent) during that stretch.

N.C. State led 49-28 at halftime, then pushed that margin to 38 midway through the second half.

Jamaya Burr scored 14 points for the Cowboys (3-8), who shot 32 percent.

BIG PICTURE

McNeese State: The Cowboys were playing their fifth and final “guarantee” road game, which the school schedules to raise money to fund the athletic department budget. McNeese State’s five guarantee games were set to earn $410,000 in payments, the school said.

N.C. State: N.C. State’s offense hasn’t been a problem in December. The Wolfpack had scored at least 90 points in consecutive games for the first time since the 2005-06 season, and nearly pushed that streak to three straight for the first time since the first three games of the 1995-96 season. N.C. State had shot at least 50 percent in its past two games, then shot 48 percent Thursday night.

UP NEXT

McNeese State: The Cowboys open Southland Conference play at Northwestern State on Dec. 31.

N.C. State: N.C. State hosts Rider on Wednesday in its final pre-Atlantic Coast Conference game.

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