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February 27, 2013
NC State took Boston College's best shot during the first half, and delivered a knockout blow in the second.
NC State blew open a competitive game with a dominating second half to win 82-64 and improve to 20-8 overall and 9-6 in the ACC. Freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis came off the bench to set a new career high with 21 points, and senior wing Scott Wood drained five three-pointers en route to 17 points. Boston College fell to 12-16 overall and 4-11 in the league.
The Wolfpack emphasized defense during practice this week, and the hard work paid off. Boston College shot 38.9 percent from the field (21 of 54) and fell behind by as many as 25 points in the second half.
"I thought our team played pretty well in a lot of different areas of the game," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "Defensively, I thought we were down in a stance and communicating and talking as well as we've done in a while.
"Offensively, we really shared the ball. Very, very unselfish game offensively for our guys."
Junior point guard Lorenzo Brown said the message about playing better defensively was definitely received.
"He [Gottfried] isn't messing around anymore with us about defense," Brown said. "Pretty much our whole practice was about defensive for the starting five and guys that come off the bench."
Gottfried pointed out the players did better against dribble penetration and rotated to the BC shooters. The Eagles have some nice offensive schemes to free their players up for shots, but the Wolfpack were "locked in" defensively.
"It's an area that we have to improve," Gottfried said. "If we can get committed, stay committed and really focus in on becoming a better defensive and rebounding team."
The defense helped lead to some easy fastbreak baskets for Purvis, who previously tallied 19 points against Boston College on Jan. 5.
"What I like about Rodney right now is that he started for a lot of games, and then we changed the lineup," Gottfried said. "That's not a fun thing to do when you are that guy. He has responded in a positive way and practiced really hard.
"I think that's kind of the way life works. When you work hard, good things happen for you."
Junior power forward C.J. Leslie was another player the Wolfpack were hoping to have a bounce-back game. Leslie had six points, four rebounds and six turnovers in 30 minutes during last Saturday's 76-65 loss at North Carolina. The preseason ACC Player of the Year had a workmanlike 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots against Boston College.
"I thought he was unselfish, and he passed the ball and rebounded," Gottfried said. "Defensively, he was a little bit better. He is one of those guys, every team expects their better players to play well. We have that expectation for him every night."
Leslie was called out by Gottfried during the press conference following the UNC game, but Leslie said he never heard the comments about him, and is ready to move on.
"I just wanted to play a very smooth game and not rush anything," Leslie said. "I just remained calm about it. I just had to come out and play and bounce back for the next game. I don't even know what he said to be honest."
The balanced scored helped NC State seize a 22-6 lead with 8:58 left in the first quarter. Boston College responded with three straight three-pointers to jump back into the game, 22-17 with 6:23 left in the first half.
Wood helped get momentum back for the Wolfpack with a leaning three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolfpack a 33-27 halftime lead.
NCSU made its move with a 10-0 spurt in the second half to take a 49-34 lead with 13 minutes left in the game. The Pack then followed with a separate 13-4 run to open a commanding 63-43 lead with 7:41 remaining in the game, and the positive energy was flowing through PNC Arena.
The two runs helped NC State shoot 20 of 31 in the second half for 64.5 percent, and finish at 55.9 percent for the game.
"Any time we are in a stance and guarding like we are capable of, we are a good team," Wood said. "The last couple of games, we gave up some easy stuff. We just have to keep it up and get out in transition. We know we can score the ball, and that's not going to be a problem. It's just about desire."
Brown had 11 points and six assists, but continued to play with discomfort due to his previously injured ankle, plus wearing low tops for shoes. NC State freshman point guard Tyler Lewis added four points and five assists, including a few impressive passes to classmate T.J. Warren, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
NC State has won four out of its last five games, with the lone loss at North Carolina. The Wolfpack close out the regular season at Georgia Tech on Sunday, followed by Senior Night against Wake Forest on March 6 and at Florida State on March 9. The Wolfpack have a 2-6 record on the road.
"I think the guys have some confidence, and outside of the last eight minutes against North Carolina, we didn't play great there for a stretch," Gottfried said. "I think the guys are excited about finishing the year really well. That's something they want."
The parity of college basketball is going to give NC State hope that they can catch fire come NCAA Tournament time. However, seeding and matchups will go a long way toward that.
"There are a lot of teams around the country and I think we are one of them, that can play with anybody," Gottfried said.
Sophomore wing Lonnie Jackson led Boston College with 16 points, while freshman shooting guard Olivier Hanlan and sophomore power forward Ryan Anderson had 12 points apiece.