Brown stars as Pack opens with ACC win
When N.C. State played Virginia Tech during the regular season, Erick Green posted 29 points and forced the Wolfpack to pull out a four-point win in overtime.
Early in Thursday’s ACC Tournament semifinal matchup at the Greensboro Coliseum, it appeared he might put up similar numbers.
But a healthier Lorenzo Brown, who dished out 12 assists, clamped down on defense to spark the Pack to an 80-63 win.
“We did a good job on Erick Green, and I thought Lorenzo was terrific in his one-on-one defense with Green,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “I thought we did a much better job of helping him than we did the first time we played Virginia Tech, but Lorenzo Brown made up his mind (that) he was going to a good job.”
Senior Richard Howell did the damage on offense, scoring 22 points on 11-of-13 shooting while pulling down 12 rebounds for N.C. State (23-9).
The win gives the Wolfpack a quarterfinal matchup today (2 p.m., WRAL) against Boston College, which beat Georgia Tech 84-64 in Thursday’s opening game.
“I felt like this was going to be our toughest game,” Brown said of the Hokies. “They sent us to overtime at our place, and we did pretty well at home this year.
“Just trying to stop Erick would be the main thing, and ... we did a good job of that.”
Green finished with 15 points for the Hokies (13-19), while Jarrell Eddie had 21.
“His defense ... was superb, the way he locked in,” Howell said of Brown, who helped limit Green to 5-of-19 shooting. “Lorenzo took this as a challenge. He hears things all the time (about) that he’s not the best defensive player, this and that.
“He stepped up, and that’s what I love about him.”
Durham native T.J. Warren, who had 13 points in his first ACC Tournament game, slammed home an alley-oop pass from Brown at the 3:37 mark of the first half. Brown then stole the ball and passed to C.J. Leslie for another resounding dunk as the Pack took a 34-27 lead.
“It definitely (got us going),” Leslie, who had 15 points, said of the back-to-back slams. “But I think the defensive stops that we got prior to the dunks were what got us going.”
Brown’s lefthanded layup with 1:19 left gave N.C. State its biggest lead to that point, but a 3-pointer by Green trimmed the margin to 38-32 at halftime.
Brown buried his only 3-pointer to open the second-half scoring, and the Hokies kept it close until the Warren’s shot from outside the arc sparked an 11-0 run by the Pack for a 59-42 lead with 12 minutes left.
Virginia Tech pulled to within 10, but State scored eight straight for a 69-47 advantage with 7:05 on the clock.
The Hokies never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way, and Rodney Purvis finished off the scoring by driving the lane for a dunk with 2.2 seconds left in mop-up time.
“The lead that we had definitely helped us conserve a little bit more energy,” Howell said. “But at the same time, I didn’t want to get that type of lead and then let go. That’s been the case in the past, and we know we can’t do that even if we do get a lead like that.
“That’s one of the things that we wanted to key on, not letting our foot off the gas.”
The Wolfpack shot 52.8 percent overall, while Virginia Tech was held to 41.7 percent including 4-of-18 from 3-point range (22.2 percent).
“I know we’re getting there,” said N.C. State senior Scott Wood, who had 13 points. “There’s still some things that we need to do better on the defensive end — keep getting better is the main thing.
“We’re right there. We’ve just got to continue to play good defense, and we’ll be all right.”
|NC STATE 80, VIRGINIA TECH 63|
Percentages: FG .417, FT .818.
3-Point Goals: 4-18, .222 (Green 3-9, Eddie 1-5, Wood 0-1, Johnston 0-1, Brown 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Raines, Barksdale, Van Zegeren).
Turnovers: 9 (Green 4, Brown 2, Wood, Rankin, Raines).
Steals: 5 (Brown 2, Barksdale, Raines, Eddie).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .528, FT .731.
3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Wood 3-5, Warren 1-2, Brown 1-4, Leslie 0-1, J. Lewis 0-1, T. Lewis 0-1, Purvis 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Leslie 2).
Turnovers: 12 (Leslie 3, Brown 2, Wood 2, Howell 2, Warren, Purvis, T. Lewis).
Steals: 5 (Wood 2, Warren, Howell, Brown).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Bryan Kersey, Tim Nestor, Jerry Heater.