While Wood would only add two more points after halftime, point guard Lorenzo Brown scored 18 of his game- and career-high 24 points in the second half. The ever-improving Richard Howell kept up his torrid play, contributing 17 points and 12 rebounds, his sixth double-double this season. After the Wolfpack saw its lead cut from 17 to seven over a four-minute period in the second half, Howell’s determined drive and basket with five minutes remaining stopped the hemorrhaging, and he converted five of six free throws over the final 1:33 to stave off one last Stanford push.
Howell’s leadership has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by his teammates, including Brown.
“[Richard’s] a lot more vocal and aggressive than he was last year,” Brown said. “He’s telling young guys where to go and trying to hype us up before the game. He gave a great speech before the game; it really hypes everybody up.”
The Wolfpack shot 32-57 from the field, improving their season total to an NCAA-leading 53 percent.
The postgame interviews following the game assumed a familiar ritual. First, the press rushed to an unused locker room in the bowels of PNC Arena to crowd around various members of the victorious Wolfpack and prod them for as many choice quotes and quips as the select players would allow. Then it was time to rush back down the corridor to the media area, the same place where just hours before said journalists chowed down at a barbeque buffet, ranking this ESPN2-telecasted game the highest so far this season on the “N.C. State Pregame Media Meal Sliding Scale of Importance,” second only to the barbeque/fried chicken/banana pudding selection normally reserved for conference season.
There, Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried held court, fielding questions and otherwise praising his team’s impressive performance against a feisty Cardinal flock. As Gottfried’s presser ended at approximately 11:30 p.m., most media members scattered. Photographers went to review and upload their pics, writers to rap out their copy, and a bleary-eyed few just headed for the exit, their deadline already blown.
Dawkins hasn't been a totally forgotten figure since his playing days, having spent 11 years as a member of Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching staff at Duke before leaving to become Stanford’s gaffer in 2008. But whereas Gottfried was peppered with reporters' questions for over eight and a half minutes, the best basketball player in the building—past or present—was done in less than three, barely enough time for him to extol praise on N.C. State and compare Lorenzo Brown to former Georgetown great and Gastonia native Sleepy Floyd. After the courtly Dawkins wished happy holidays to those assembled, a few of the press corps’ older guard sauntered forward to greet him as he stepped off the dais, smiles of recognition being exchanged between folks who may have performed this same ritual almost 30 years ago.
N.C. State (8-2) returns to action this Saturday, Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. when they host St. Bonaventure.