Thanks to a strong finish and 24 points from junior Scott Wood, NC State easily handled Flagler Monday night in its only exhibition game of the season, winning 101-62 in front of a small but vocal crowd at the RBC Center.
And while judging exhibitions may be an effort in futility, the 36-8 run to close the game will certainly leave the Wolfpack feeling confident heading into Friday's season opener against UNC-Asheville.
"We did a lot of things well," first year head coach Mark Gottfried said. "We feel like we can improve quite a bit, but at the same time we were very unselfish, moved the ball well, got out on the break and had some success there. Overall, it was a good night for us."
A less-than-impressive first half defensive effort allowed Division II Flagler to hang within 8-10 points for much of the first 20 minutes. Flagler out-rebounded NC State 18-17 in the first 20 minutes and forced 8 turnovers.
Luckily for NC State, however, a surprisingly effective up-tempo offensive attack kept the Saints from becoming any real threat. NC State built a 51-37 lead by halftime on the strength of 61 percent shooting and 17 assists on 19 made baskets. Wood poured in 18 of his 24 points in the first, all from behind the arc.
Gottfried said the first half defensive issues centered around pour box outs and not containing Flagler's efforts to penetrate and get to the basket.
"Rebounding was an issue in the first half, but more importantly we weren't moving our feet nearly as well as we want and were allowing too much penetration," he said. That breaks everything down, everybody's trying to rotate and that leaves people open around the basket."
State pulled away in the second half, building its lead to 20 midway through the half and 30 when Deshawn Painter put back a Lorenzo Brown miss with 5:21 remaining.
Five total players, led by Wood, finished in double figures on the night. C.J. Leslie, who came off the bench and played 23 minutes, tallied 16 points and five rebounds. Leslie repeatedly found his way to the rim, even putting down two alley-oops thanks to passes from transfer Alex Johnson.
Johnson scored just six points Monday after leading the Pack with 23 in the scrimmage Saturday, but his role in the offense looked much more like that of a point guard. He dished out three assists and also pulled down four rebounds in 20 minutes.
Lorenzo Brown dished out eight assists in his first major action as NC State's point guard and showed flashes of his ability, but he also turned the ball over six times in 22 minutes.
C.J. Williams, Deshawn Painter and Tyler Harris rounded out the double-figure scorers, finishing with 10 points each.
“[CJ Williams] was itching to play – he missed four of five days. The doctors cleared him to play, I was nervous about him and didn't want him to play for awhile," Gottfried said. "But the doctor said he could and he felt good with it. He's done a nice job there – I thought he played well tonight.”
NC State returns to the RBC Center Friday to face off with UNC-Asheville in its regular season opener. The tip is scheduled 7 p.m.