Pack's Howell calls Miami a 'revenge game' - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Pack's Howell calls Miami a 'revenge game'

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N.C. State senior Richard Howell has a clean, simple term for Saturday's ACC Tournament semifinal with Miami – "revenge game."

Howell played another tough, confident game on Friday, helping State oust Virginia 75-56 in the ACC quarterfinals. That game avenged a 58-55 Wolfpack loss in Charlottesville Jan. 29.

Lorenzo Brown was injured in that game and didn't play for State in the next one, at home against Miami Feb. 2. But with freshman Tyler Lewis playing well, the Wolfpack was on a brink of a big win over Miami – until the last second, when Reggie Johnson nudged him out of the way and tipped the ball in to give Miami a 79-78 victory at PNC Arena.

"I feel it's a revenge game – just like the last game was," Howell said Friday in the Wolfpack locker room.

State lost its next game, at Duke, and eventually slipped to fifth in the ACC.

But the Wolfpack has been coming around as postseason approached. Friday's win was State's eighth win in its last 10 games.

"I think our team is beginning to find that groove," coach Mark Gottfried said. "I think we're in a good spot."

Gottfried pointed to several factors, including the addition of T.J. Warren to the starting lineup, the improved health of Lorenzo Brown and the fact that his veteran players are bringing a sense of urgency to the games now that postseason has arrived.

"You've got some players, too, where you get down to the end of the season and they play a little differently," he said.

Howell, a senior who is having a brilliant tournament, echoed that point.

"We know this could be it, especially me," Howell said. "I relayed that to my team. Honestly, a lot of guys know that, too."

State has had big tournaments so far from C.J. Leslie, a junior, and Wood, a senior.

Leslie, much maligned by some State fans for lackadaisical stretches, had an aggressive game Friday, attacking the basket and helping the Pack get off to a quick start.

 "One of the main things I pride myself on is my energy," Leslie said. "I know if I have energy early, my team will follow right behind me."

Wood was brilliant in the second half in particular, getting three straight three-pointers that rattled UVa. Wood finished with a game-high 23 points, and Gottfried said afterward Wood should have made all-conference.

"The All-ACC, I was shocked Scott Wood wasn't on somebody's first, second, third team or honorable mention. To me, that was amazing."

So State goes into Saturday's semifinal with a confident team that Virginia coach Tony Bennett calls "the most offensively talented team in our league."

And it also goes into the game with a chip firmly on its shoulder after that Miami loss last month.

"That was a tough game for us," Leslie said. "We felt we had it under control and it slipped away from us."

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