Raleigh, NC – Another dominant performance inside from Lennard Freeman led NC State to an 86-68 victory over Presbyterian Thursday night at PNC Arena. The Wolfpack moved to 4-0 in its first season under head coach Kevin Keatts.
NC State’s defensive pressure caused Presbyterian to cough it up 22 times, making it the fourth-consecutive game the Wolfpack’s opponents have finished with 20 or more turnovers. NC State took care of the ball effectively as it finished with a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio with 16 assists to just eight turnovers.
Lennard Freeman was unstoppable in the paint, leading five double-digit NC State scorers with a career-high 23 points on an efficient 9-of-12 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. Tonight’s game marked the third time this season Freeman has reset his career-high. He previously set his career-hight in points this season with 15 against VMI, then had 20 against Bryant and then 23 tonight. Freeman also made his presence felt on the defensive end, recording career-highs in both blocked shots and steals with three.
Torin Dorn led the Wolfpack in rebounding with a season-high nine board, while Markell Johnson led the team in assists, for the fourth consecutive game with seven, and steals with four.
Dorn added 18 points along with a career-high four assists, Allerik Freeman chipped in 12 points and Omer Yurtseven finished with 11 points on a season-high five made field goals on seven attempts. Markell Johnson had 10 points to round out a balanced attack for the Wolfpack.
While NC State came out with the win, Presbyterian made the Wolfpack work for it as they went into the half with a 44-36 lead. The Blue Hose turned the ball over only seven times in the first half, fewest for an NC State opponent in a half this season, while also shooting 60 percent in the first half to go into the locker room with an eight-point advantage.
The Pack turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, forcing Presbyterian into 15 turnovers in the final 20 minutes. NC State re-took the lead with 13:34 left to play on a Dorn layup and never looked back as the Pack never trailed again.
After shooting 60 percent from the field and turning the ball over only seven times in the first half, the Blue Hose shot 31.6 percent in the second half and turned it over 15 times. In the final 20 minutes, Presbyterian only had six made field goals.
For the season, NC State has now forced its opponents into 94 turnovers. For the third time in four games, the Pack had less than 10 turnovers in a game as NC State finished the game against Presbyterian with eight.
NC State flexed its muscle down low as Freeman and Yurtseven combined to shoot 14-of-19 from the field and helped the Pack to a 56-32 advantage in points in the paint.
After four games in seven days, the Pack now has five days until its next contest. NC State returns to the hardwood Wednesday when it faces third-ranked Arizona in the first round of the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis held on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The game will tipoff at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN3.