VIDEO: Wolfpack Opens With Win, 'Getting Better Still'
N.C. State lives to play another game in this year's NCAA Tournament.
The Wolfpack broke open a tight Midwest Region contest Tuesday night against Xavier University to win 74-59 and move on to the second round. Sophomore forward and ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren led State with 25 points despite some early fouling trouble.
N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said the reason his team won is because they're not just a one-man team.
"When we've got other guys step up and score and everybody's chipping in a little bit, we're much better," says Gottfried. "Our players understand that T.J.'s a great scorer. They watch him every day in practice. But they also know we need some different things... And as everybody contributes, it makes us better."
Since Sunday, when the 68-team field was named, N.C. State has heard several so-called experts say they did not belong in the tournament. Gottfried says he's herd all those naysayers loud and clear. But he's urging his team to let their play on the court prove them wrong.
"For us, it's just continue on with what we've been doing," he says. "We're getting better at some things. You know, I think the one thing that's really nice to see is our young players are really learning to play at this level..learning how to execute and defend. And that's what you want as a coach. You want your team to keep getting better and I think we are getting better ... still."
— Mike Murray (@CoachMurray) March 19, 2014
The 12th-seeded Wolfpack boarded a plane after Tuesday night's game for Orlando and a Thursday night matchup with Saint Louis University -- the fifth seed in the Midwest region.
Duke, UNC and North Carolina Central won't play their first NCAA Tournament games until Friday night.