RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Richard Howell had 16 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 6 North Carolina State beat Miami (Ohio) 97-59 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Lorenzo Brown added 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Wolfpack, who scored the game's first 10 points and led by 19 at halftime en route to an easy win that kicked off a season of high expectations. N.C. State did nothing to diminish fan excitement that had built since being named the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite for the first time in nearly four decades, shooting 61 percent and leading by 43 points for its 19th straight season-opening victory.
Allen Roberts scored 16 points for Miami, which shot 22 percent in the first half and finished at 32 percent in the first game under new coach John Cooper.
N.C. State's veterans took charge in this one. While Howell and Brown had big games, preseason ACC player of the year C.J. Leslie added 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. In fact, the trio was outscoring the RedHawks entire team until midway through the second half.
Freshman guard Rodney Purvis earned the start and finished with 16 points, while senior Scott Wood added 10.
The No. 6 ranking marked a stunningly fast rise for the Wolfpack under second-year coach Mark Gottfried, who inherited a program that hadn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2006. Gottfried led N.C. State to 24 wins - its best total in 24 years - and took eventual finalist Kansas to the final seconds in a loss in last year's NCAA round of 16, ending a 24-win season that stood as the program's best since 1988.
He said his players would have to learn how to play with the pressure of higher expectations this year, from his four returning starters to the touted three-man recruiting class of Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. They all responded, constantly getting out in transition for easy baskets and a 31-8 edge in fast break points - including when Lewis threw a behind-the-back pass to Warren on the break for a second-half layup as the Wolfpack turned it into a romp.
N.C. State jumped out to a 10-0 lead, ending the spurt with a 3-pointer from Wood. Then the Wolfpack broke off a 12-2 runs ending with Brown finding a trailing Howell for a transition layup that sent N.C. State into the locker room with a 41-22 lead.
The RedHawks got no closer than 16 in the first minute after the break.
It was the first sellout for a Wolfpack season opener since 1999 against Georgia, which was also the first game in the PNC Arena.