The No. 6 North Carolina State Wolfpack proved that they were worthy of their status as the highest-ranked ACC squad in its 72-55 dismantling of Penn State in a Puerto Rico Tip-Off quarterfinal matchup.
A three-pronged Wolfpack attack proved to be overwhelming for the overmatched Nittany Lions, who only trailed by nine points at the break.
Preseason conference player of the year C.J. Leslie notched 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Superb NC State freshman guard Rodney Purvis was no slouch either, pouring in 12 points of his own.
The kind of all-around performance Leslie put up is what garnered him such high praise ahead of this hugely hyped 2012-13 campaign, and The Wolfpacker Twitter account documented another dimension Leslie has seemed to add:
C.J. Leslie unveils a new move, a smooth half hook in the post. Shows he's been working on his game of late.
— The Wolfpacker (@TheWolfpacker) November 15, 2012
But the game ball goes to frosh forward T.J. Warren, who scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He also had seven rebounds to boot, and consistently shredded the zone defense of the Nittany Lions, who had no answer all evening.
T.J. Warren is an absolute mercenary on the offensive end.
— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) November 15, 2012
TJ is a SCORER. He scores easy so many different ways. #special
— Chris Corchiani (@Chris_Corchiani) November 15, 2012
After a run to the Sweet 16 to cap off last season, the Wolfpack suddenly find themselves among college basketball's elite—and they have yet to disprove that they belong.
Senior guard Tim Frazier led the way for Penn State, scoring 23 points but on just 6-of-20 shooting from the field. Stagnant ball movement continues to plague the Nittany Lions' offensive attack, as they registered just four assists in the entire contest.
NC State was ultimately far more efficient, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 8-of-16 from distance, while PSU was just 3-of-19 from downtown despite some great looks.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack will face a much more formidable Big Ten test with a trip to Ann Arbor to square off against fifth-ranked Michigan after what should be a relatively easy home triumph against UNC-Asheville.
Meanwhile, Penn State will try to recover and looks to improve its shooting in the coming games before the season gets out of hand.