RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) If replacing T.J. Warren’s scoring turns out to be a two-man job, North Carolina State appears to be in good shape.
Anthony ”Cat” Barber scored a career-high 25 points to help the Wolfpack beat Jackson State 93-58 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey added 22 points in his first game for N.C. State, which never trailed.
”Trevor and Cat really got a lot of things going offensively,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. ”They kind of feed off of one another, penetrate and pitch back and forth. Both of those guys are point guards at heart, and tonight those guys really fed off of each other.”
Lacey and Barber combined to score 36 of their points in the first half on 12-of-16 shooting, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
N.C. State shot 52 percent as a team in its first game without Warren, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year last season before becoming a first-round NBA draft pick.
The Wolfpack led 47-26 at halftime after shooting 58 percent from the field and committing just two turnovers. N.C. State scored the first seven points of the second half and never led by fewer than 26 points the rest of the way.
Javeres Brent scored 13 points to lead Jackson State, which shot 28 percent, and made five of 24 3-point tries.
Kaven Bernard added 12 points for the Tigers.
The Wolfpack missed their first five shots from the floor, but they made amends by scoring on their next six possessions to take a 20-8 lead with 11:41 remaining in the first half.
Barber provided the spark, hitting two free throws, a layup and a 3-pointer off the dribble on consecutive possessions to ignite the run.
The Wolfpack followed with a 21-5 spurt featuring 10 points from Lacey and eight points from Barber to build a 26-point lead with 3 minutes left in the first half.
Barber and Lacey each finished 3 of 5 from 3-point range after Barber used the shot sparingly last season.
Barber made just 12 of 46 3-point attempts as a freshman, and he never made more than two 3-pointers in a game. He hit his third 3-pointer against Jackson State with 14 minutes left in the second half, giving the Wolfpack a 63-30 lead.
”My shot started falling, and I started getting in the groove,” Barber said. ”Once I feel it and I’m on, and I feel like I’m going to stay on.”
Jackson State: Brent was quiet in the first half until the final 3 minutes. He scored nine quick points for the Tigers in a span of 98 seconds by sandwiching a pair of 3-pointers around three free throws.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack improved to 58-4 all time in season openers since Atlantic Coast Conference play began in 1953, including 21 consecutive wins.
Jackson State visits South Florida on Sunday.
N.C. State hosts Hofstra on Monday.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
”I think people are sleeping on us, but it doesn’t matter. It’s politics. People are going to say this about this person or that team. But once you’re winning, it’s a different thing. We don’t let all of that get to us.” – Barber
Lacey made his first five field goal attempts and shot 7 of 8 in the first half. . N.C. State’s Ralston Turner made 1 of 4 3-point attempts. He has made at least one 3-pointer in 19 consecutive games, the longest current streak among active ACC players.