Smith dazzles as NC State rolls past Rider 99-71

(WTVD)

Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 points and a season-high 16 assists to help North Carolina State beat Rider 99-71 on Wednesday night.

Fellow rookie Omer Yurtseven added a season-high 16 points in his first start for the Wolfpack (11-2), who led 40-25 by halftime and stayed comfortably in front in a tuneup before the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Smith had eight assists by halftime and had a highlight-reel takeoff and throwdown dunk early in the second half, extending his recent strong play by setting a PNC Arena single-game assists record and posting the most by a Wolfpack player in nearly 26 years. Smith is shooting 67 percent in the past three games.

"We're going into conference play and we're rolling right now," Smith said. "We're beating teams how we're supposed to beat them lately, and that's a good sign."

Smith's 16 assists were the most by a Wolfpack player since Chris Corchiani had 20 against Maryland in February 1991



The Wolfpack held Rider to 24-percent shooting in the first half (9 for 38) and 37 percent for the game, earning a sixth straight win - the last four each coming by at least 21 points.

N.C. State shot 56 percent.

N.C. State is averaging 96 points over the past four games and shot 56 percent in this one. The team came in with five players averaging in double figures, then had six get there Wednesday.

Stevie Jordan scored 14 points for the Broncs (8-5).

"We got our behinds handed to us by those guys," Rider coach Kevin Baggett said.



N.C. State Coach Mark Gottfried had been pushing his players to play better defense and has said they have improved since the start of the season. The numbers backed him in this one, from Rider's struggle-filled start to the Wolfpack's seven steals and seven blocks.

"I think our team's farther along now," Gottfried said. "You never know all the way for sure, but probably the way I look at it is the most important thing I see is: are we getting better? Are we getting better defensively? Are we getting better executing our offense? Are we getting better rebounding the ball? And I do think we are.

"What's happened to us is we've eliminated some blow-bys," Gottfried said. "We've eliminated where we've lost our guy or lost vision. Our ballscreen defense is a little better. We're communicating a little bit better."

The Wolfpack also took care of the glass to regularly limit the Broncs to one shot, led by Abdul-Malik Abu (12 rebounds) and freshman Ted Kapita (season-high 11 boards).

N.C. State visits Miami on Saturday to start ACC play.

ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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