With high expectations after finishing strong last season, North Carolina State did indeed pick up where it left off in a season-opening 88-70 win over Bucknell.
The next step for the Wolfpack in their quest to prove they are for real is a home contest on Saturday against Patriot League opponent Colgate.
NC State came into the season with nine total returnees from 2020-21, including four with starting experience. Having players more comfortable in the system certainly showed in a dominant second half against Bucknell.
NC State shot better than 52 percent from the field in the second half to outscore Bucknell 48-30 en route to the win.
The Wolfpack responded after falling behind 13-1 to start the game.
“I don’t know that we could’ve had a better opening game,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “What I mean by that is just by having some adversity. They jumped out on us 13-1. We handled that. I thought we did a good job.”
The team’s leading returning scorer, Jericole Hellems, led the way with 22 points, while fellow returnee Dereon Seabron (18 points) also had a good debut.
Terquavion Smith, who had 20 points against Bucknell, will be a freshman to watch all season for the Wolfpack.
The bad news from the Bucknell game was that one of the Wolfpack’s key pieces, forward Manny Bates, suffered a dislocated right shoulder. He was ruled out for the season on Friday.
NC State must turn its focus to Colgate, which is coming off a 65-58 win over Northeastern in its season opener. The Raiders are 50-16 in Patriot League play over the past four years.
Colgate has qualified for the past two NCAA tournaments.
Colgate had the second-best offense in the country last season, at 86.3 points per game, and has a nice veteran guard rotation led by seniors Jack Ferguson, Nelly Cummings and Tucker Richardson.
“Our next few games are on the road, and to get off to a good start to the season with a win at home, and we don’t have many games at home, is really important,” Colgate head coach Matt Langel said.
–Field Level Media