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November 1, 2007

NC State hammers Barton College in exhibition

The North Carolina State offense didn't care who scored the points in the Wolfpack's share the wealth philosophy.

Five NCSU players scored in double figures led by Brandon Costner who scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half as the Wolfpack hammered Barton College 94-57 on Thursday at the RBC Center.

Shooting guard Courtney Fells scored 16 points, small forward Gavin Grant added 14 points, and a pair of freshman forwards - J.J. Hickson and Tracy Smith - both had 11 points.

"We are a real unselfish team and play basketball like you are supposed to play basketball," Costner said. "We look for the open person. If you aren't open, you have to swing it and look for a better shot."

The Wolfpack passing led to six dunks and numerous open looks, shooting an impressive 58.6 percent from the field (34 of 58). Conversely, NC State's super-intense start helped hold Barton College to 37.7 percent on field-goal attempts.

"We don't care who scores for us, we just want to go out there and win, play hard and have fun," Fells said. "Practices are very competitive, so when we play against someone else, we just go out there and play."

Center Ben McCauley and point guard Farnold Degand both played unselfishly to take care of their teammates. Degand had six assists and eight points in his first game wearing a Wolfpack uniform, and McCauley and Grant both had five assists apiece.

Fells was impressed with how his roommate Degand ran the show and gave the team a B+ overall.

"It was exciting to see him out there," Fells said. "We've been trying to get him out there on the court for a while. He did a great job of getting everybody in position and running the offense. He can get there pretty fast, one dribble and he's there."

NC State finished with 26 assists and only 13 turnovers, while forcing 20 Barton College turnovers. The unselfishness and fiery intensity of the first 10 minutes of the game helped the Wolfpack develop a 30-8 lead with 6:50 left in the half.

"It was good to play somebody other than ourselves," Costner said. "We had a lot of pent up aggression that we needed to take out. We just came out and really wanted to play hard on defense and execute on offense. We did that for a good stretch there, but we need to do that for a whole game if we want to win in the ACC."

Costner said he was a little rusty playing at the RBC Center during last Saturday's Red/White intrasquad game, but was happy with how he shot against Barton College. He finished 7 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range to lead the Wolfpack.

Barton College, the defending Division II national champions, didn't have a starter taller than the 6-foot-6 Brian Leggett, who led the Bulldogs with 17 points and eight rebounds. The scrappy Bulldogs finished with 16 offensive rebounds, which was two more than their defensive rebounds.

NC State coach Sidney Lowe said it was good for his towering frontcourt to play a smaller, quicker team.

"It helps us tremendously because now you have get down and move your feet," Lowe said. "For Ben and Brandon and J.J., to be guarding a guy that is 6-6 and quick, not just on the dribble, but also on the boards. They aren't going to try and go through you, they'll try to go around you. Fundamentally, you have to be sound on that boxout.

"I like the fact that we had this game and gave our guys a chance to see what it means to move their feet and guard quick guys."

NC State returns to action with its second and final exhibition game Nov. 6 against UNC-Pembroke at 7 p.m. at the RBC Center.

The season kicks off Nov. 15 with the home opener against William & Mary.


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