NC State Wolfpack roars past Coppin State in Heritage game, 97-72

Raleigh, NC – On a night that celebrated the 40th anniversary of NC State’s 1983 national championship team, Reynolds Coliseum rattled back to life as the Wolfpack moved back into the win column on Tuesday with a commanding 94-72 win over Coppin State.

NC State’s Jarkel Joiner (photo by Gene Galin)

A strong offensive effort was led by Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, who each surpassed their season-highs in scoring and combined for 62 points. Smith finished the night with 33 points, while Joiner totaled 29. Smith additionally tied his career-high in assists with seven and field-goals made with 12.  Jack Clark led the way on the boards for the Pack with ten rebounds in addition to three points.

A fast start from NC State included making 10 three-pointers in the first half, all of which came in the opening 9:56 of the frame. Ten made three-pointers and a 56.2% clip from beyond-the-arc in the first half both marked the best for the Pack since it’s 107-74 win over FIU on November 15.

NC State’s Terquavion Smith goes up for a basket. (photo by Gene Galin)

The opening frame additionally saw NC State post a 21-2 run over just 3:35 of play to break the game open and create what would prove to be an insurmountable 25-point lead with just 8:58 remaining in the first half.

After taking a 49-32 edge into the locker room for halftime, the Wolfpack staved off multiple threats from the Eagles from cut their deficit to as few as ten points on three separate occasions in the second half. The Pack iced the game late in the second half closing on a 13-2 run.

All 14 available players saw action on the floor in the win, with Ernest Ross posting eight points, Casey Morsell adding seven points, DJ Burns finishing with six, Breon Pass totaling three, and Dusan Mahorcic and LJ Thomas each tallying two points in addition to Ebenezer Dowuona’s one point.

Sam Sessoms led the way for Coppin State with 24 points, while Justin Steers and Nendah Tarke finished with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

NC State will now shift its focus to a Saturday, Dec. 10 contest against ACC foe Miami. Tipoff for Saturday’s contest is slated for 2 p.m. at Miami’s Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla. The game will be broadcast on Regional Sports Networks including Bally Sports South in North Carolina.

Post game press conference notes

NC State head coach Kevin Keatts
(opening statement)
“First of all we’re going to continue to pray for Dusan [Mahorcic]. I do not have an update at this point. He’s with our medical doctors and our trainers and I will know more hopefully in the next 24 hours. We will give you some type of an update when we get one. To the game, I thought our guards were really special tonight. I thought there were three great guards on the floor because [Sam] Sessoms was pretty good also. It was really good to see Jarkel Joiner bounce back after not having a great game against Pitt and I thought Terquavion Smith was a pro’s pro tonight. He did a little bit of everything, he defended, he scored the basketball, he passed the basketball. We didn’t feel like we played well in the Pitt game and we wanted to come in here, have a better showing, and play both ends of the floor. I’ll get a thousand questions about Reynolds Coliseum and we should play every game in here, but don’t send those questions to me, send them to somebody else but it’s a great venue and it was a great night. I’m really appreciative of our fans for showing up. I thought the ‘STATE’ jerseys looked great, I thought they were
outstanding. Hopefully we can see them again, maybe they’re not just a one-game deal. It was an electric night, I thought the energy was great. We had a lot of fun and our guys had a lot of fun. During the game we thought we had a good first half, we didn’t close the first half the way I wanted to. We came out and I thought we were playing a lot better in the second half and then unfortunately with Dusan [Mahorcic]’s situation it took the air out of us a bit, but we closed the game.”

(on Dusan Mahorcic’s injury)
“I will not comment on it. You can ask me that later, Chip [Alexander], but I don’t want to make assumptions on someone else. I will say that I’m happy the way Ernest Ross played today.”

Dusan Mahorcic suffered a knee injury during Coppin basketball game (photo by Gene Galin)

(on Casey Morsell not getting many open looks)
“They did a good job getting back in transition. A lot of Casey [Morsell]’s shots have come when he was running the floor and getting out in transition. I thought they stayed at home. The reason we got so many open looks to our post guys when we rolled was because they stayed with our shooters a lot.”
(On Dusan Mahorcic)
“I just wanted to keep him calm. It’s tough and you guys look at them as my players. I look at them as my
kids. It is hard to see any of your kids or any of those guys in that situation. I was there just to calm him
down and let him know we are with him. I am obviously praying for him.”
(on Jarkel Joiner and Terquavion Smith being the best back court in the ACC)
“I’ll take them. I don’t want to trade them, so I’ve got to say I’ll take them. I’m keeping them. I’m not
throwing them in, so I’m keeping those guys. They are good and tonight they were electric. They were
really good. Every run that Coppin made they were there to answer it. Coppin is a team that is really
dangerous. People from the other side won’t have name recognition, but you look at the Power Five and
the bigger schools they have played, that is what has been great. Georgetown was an overtime game,
maybe multiple overtime games, and the Maryland game was tough. He has done that against all
competition. I am happy for Juan [Dixon]. I remember him back when I was at Hargrave, I sent Lonnie
Baxter to Maryland who played with Juan [Dixon] and I have seen him since he was a really young kid,
but I am not showing my age.”
(on the competition between Joiner and Smith in practice)
“They said I won’t let them? I don’t know about that now. It is a thin line. Here is what we do in practice
with those guys. I need them to play against each other because they challenge each other to become
better but I also have to develop some type of chemistry with them. So early on in the season, it was
those two guarding each other and they made each other better. In the end, I have now switched it so
they have to play together, so they have a better understanding and feel on how to play together.”

(on Joiner’s last game)
“I don’t know that, but knowing him as a person, he has got a lot of pride. One of the best kids I could
have ever recruited, especially the point guard position. He didn’t have to tell me. I don’t know if he went
home that night. Obviously, he probably went in and took 2,000 shots that night or more.
(on balancing ACC play and academics)
“That is a great question. It is a challenge. The number one thing these kids are here for is their
education. Today was the last day of class, meaning we are going into exams, so we have to figure out a
good balance of when to practice. RIght now our priorities shifted to make sure the guys finish out the
semester strong and take care of their academics. It is a great balancing act.
(On the Miami game)
“You gotta let me get past tonight, they’re good, very talented. I haven’t watched Miami at all, but I do
know name recognition. I know [Isaiah] Wong seems like he’s been around for seven years. And he’s
played great. And so I’ll get a chance to watch them starting late tonight and early tomorrow. They’re
talented, Jim Larrañaga has done a great job with his team, it’ll be a tough road game for us as all of
them are.
(On the teams response to runs/pick and roll)
“I thought our guards did a great job of controlling the game, thats the maturity that I’m looking for. I’ve got
a senior that’s been around a long time, and Jarkel, but I’ve also got a guy that is an elite scorer, who a
lot of the conversations I’ve had with him are, control the game, finish the game, be efficient down the
stretch, and dont settle. I thought he did a great job of not just taking deep 3’s, even though he took the
last one. But he drove the basketball and we got to the free throw line and we did some good stuff.
(On the meaning of the 1983 team)
“Amazing. It’s not just NC State, you could almost make an argument that it’s America’s team, the ‘83 run
was great. It feels like everytime you see something about them, I have to stop what I am doing just to
read. It gets your heart beating a little bit. It’s a great team with great folks, it was a great coach. We’re
excited, we’re gonna bring them back. I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you that, but I think they’re
supposed to come back in February to honor those guys and I think that’s the right thing to do. And if we
can bring them back every week we should. I think there were a few here tonight, and I’m glad our guys
played well enough where our guys respect what those guys did. And a lot of those guys in this building
and everything else.
(On Terquavion Smith)
“You know he’s played so well and other people will say, you know, well he’s only averaged 16 points per
game, you know the NBA scouts, they know he can score the basketball. They wanted to see him pass
the basketball. And so I think he’s doing a really good job. He’s either first or second in the ACC in
assists. I think we’re seeing a young man grow up, and by the way, he’s saying to you guys, “hey I can
score if I need to, I just wanna show you I got a little bit more in my bag.” But he’s really matured, you
know he’s a kid. And you know one of the reasons why he’s back is because he’s a kid and he enjoys his
teammates. You know when you saw Dusan go down, you know, I think he was affected more than

NC State graduate guard Jarkel Joiner
(on the special jerseys the team wore tonight)
“This is number one right now. Last year, y’all (NC State) played in black jerseys and I liked them, but this
is definitely number one. I love these jerseys.”
(on responding after a tough game)
“I never went “0 for” before, but I’ve had bad games like that before. Nothing changed, I just got back in
the gym and recreated the shots I missed. God blessed me to have a game like I had tonight.”
(on using this win as momentum heading into the ACC)

“We knew we had to get this one going into ACC play. It’s why we’re rocking and rolling from here.”
NC State sophomore guard Terquavion Smith
(on his career growth from playing in Reynolds as a high schooler)
“It’s improved a lot. I’ve been lifting a lot of weights, shoutout Pat Murphy. Just having guys like Jarkel
that push you every day, you can feed off of that. You can learn stuff too. He gets buckets just like I do,
so that’s fuel to my fire.”
(on what was working well for him tonight)
“My teammates were finding me. They created all of my open shots. I’ve been in the gym a lot getting
extra work in.”
(on if he was in “that zone”)
“I definitely was [in that zone]. I like playing in Reynolds. I played here my sophomore year of high school
and after that I just always liked playing in here. I feel like it’s easier to shoot over here.”
(on if this is a special place since he won a state championship here)
“That is a big reason, also. That was a big moment in my career.”
NC State guards Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner
(on seeing a teammate suffer an injury)
Smith: “It means a lot to me to have a teammate go down just because it shows you it can end at any
time or anything can happen. So It means a lot to me. Dusan plays hard for us, he gives us great minutes
and a great effort day in and day out. He’s like my brother so it means a lot to me.”
Joiner: “Most definitely, I feel the same way. Dusan came in and practiced. He’s an older guy. He knows
what it takes. He knows it’s his last year. But he’s going to get healthy. We’re going to figure out what’s
wrong with him. Our athletic department is going to do everything they can to get him back in game
(on if they think they are the best backcourt in the ACC)
Joiner: “Most definitely. We feel like we’re hard to stop. We talk about it all the time. This started in the
summer when coach used to make us go against each other constantly. We’d never play on the same
Smith: “I feel like we are the best backcourt in the ACC. It’s going to be hard to stop us, especially when
things get going. I feel like all we have to do is defend because the opportunities will come. When we stop other guards, that just proves our case.”