However, if the Wolfpack are to advance in the NCAA Tournament,
additional players need to contribute.
"When other guys step up and score and everybody's chipping in,
we're a much better team," coach Mark Gottfried said.
Warren scored 25 points and guard Ralston Turner added 17, lifting
North Carolina State to a 74-59 victory over Xavier in a first-round
NCAA Tournament game between No. 12 seeds on Tuesday night at the
University of Dayton Arena.
Wolfpack freshman guard Anthony Barber played only eight minutes due
to illness, but Tyler Lewis, a sophomore guard, stepped up to score
seven points and hand out eight assists in 32 minutes.
"Tyler was terrific," Gottfried said. "He played some great
North Carolina State (22-13) advances to face No. 5 seed Saint Louis
(26-6) on Thursday in Orlando, Fla. Gottfried said he is unfamiliar
with the Billikens.
"I really haven't watched them," Gottfried said. "We spent so much
time trying to get ready for Xavier. I'll watch film of them on the
plane. It's a quick turnaround, but we will get ready."
Xavier (21-13) played the game in a hostile environment, the home
arena of its longtime Atlantic 10 Conference nemesis, Dayton. The
Musketeers dealt with a smattering of boos but also heard from the
sizable contingent of Xavier fans who made the 45-minute drive up
Interstate 75. The Xavier supporters had little to cheer about.
"We picked the wrong night to play bad," Musketeers coach Chris Mack
said. "Hats off to N.C. State. They've been playing their best
basketball of the year of late. Our inability to take care of the
ball prevented us from getting over the hump in the second half."
Junior center Matt Stainbrook led the Xavier with 19 points and nine
Stainbrook's health was a big concern for Xavier coming in. The
junior big man strained a ligament in his left knee during a loss at
Seton Hall on March 3. He missed the regular-season finale against
Villanova and played sparingly in Big East Conference tournament
games against Marquette and Creighton.
"I was fine tonight," Stainbrook said. "I just tried to feed off the
energy everyone else brought. I was excited for the game and
definitely wished for a better outcome."
Sophomore guard Semaj Christon scored 14 points but also committed
seven turnovers for Xavier, which trailed by six points at halftime.
The Musketeers mounted a brief comeback in the second half.
Guard Dee Davis' 3-pointer and Christon's layup cut Xavier's deficit
to two points, but behind Warren, North Carolina State always seemed
to have an answer.
Three consecutive baskets by Warren pushed the Wolfpack's lead to
49-42. Warren's dunk made the score 57-47 with 7:56 remaining.
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The Wolfpack, not considered a 3-point shooting team, hit two of
their first five 3-point attempts to grab the early lead.
Barber's layup capped a 6-0 run to put North Carolina State ahead
22-14. The Wolfpack led by as many as 10 points in the first half.
Xavier committed eight turnovers in the first half and North
Carolina State converted those into six points, resulting in a 34-28
halftime lead for the Wolfpack.
The personal competition between Christon and Warren, former
classmates at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., was evident
throughout the first half. Christon scored eight points and Warren
had nine, but both players went into halftime with two fouls.
Warren overcame his foul trouble, scoring 16 of his 25 points in the
"I just kept moving without the basketball and stayed aggressive,"
Warren said. "I knew that eventually my shots were going to fall. My
teammates did a great job at finding me in my sweet spot. So just
aggressiveness, staying at it."
Xavier's season-long weakness, perimeter shooting, prevented a
rally. The Musketeers went 2-for-14 from 3-point range Tuesday.
"We're not a very good shooting team," Mack said. "We didn't shoot
it well, didn't get to the free-throw line, and we turned the ball
over. We weren't good enough on the offensive end to win."
NOTES: The teams met for the first time. ... Xavier is one of just
13 schools that participated in the NCAA Tournament in eight of the
past nine seasons. ... North Carolina State reached the NCAA
Tournament on the 40th anniversary of the first of its two national
championships. ... Xavier G Semaj Christon and F Jalen Reynolds and
North Carolina State G T.J. Warren were teammates at Brewster
Academy in New Hampshire. Wolfpack G Patrick Wallace and F Kyle
Washington also attended Brewster. ... North Carolina State coach
Mark Gottfried is the third coach in Atlantic Coast Conference
history to reach the NCAA Tournament in his first three seasons,
joining Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge.
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