RALEIGH, North Carolina — North Carolina State's top players showed up, its big men rebounded and blocked shots, and the entire team played with more energy and intensity.
Coach Mark Gottfried figures it's "one step forward" heading into the bulk of the Wolfpack's Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
Ralston Turner scored 16 points to break out of a slump and help N.C. State beat Pittsburgh 68-50 on Saturday, giving the Wolfpack at 2-0 league start days after an ugly home loss to Cincinnati.
Trevor Lacey scored a game-high 19 points for the Wolfpack (11-4, 2-0), who shot 52 percent. That included 16-for-27 (59 percent) after halftime to turn the game into a rout after leading 27-20 at the break.
Tuesday's 76-60 home loss to the Bearcats had left Gottfried so irked about his team's "casual" play that he apologized to Wolfpack fans, said some players "need to understand it's a privilege" to play here and promised tougher practices ahead.
Among the results: N.C. State held Pittsburgh (10-4, 0-1) to 33-percent shooting, took a 34-30 edge on the glass and frequently had players diving on the floor for loose balls.
"They responded," Gottfried said. "They were hurt the other day after the Cincinnati game. They were disappointed, embarrassed. So now for us, it's something we have to continue to build on."
The most obvious change was Turner, whom Gottfried had said "looks tired to me" after his third straight off game against Cincinnati. He went 4-for-9 from 3-point range after going 1-for-9 in the past three games.
Lacey bounced back, too, after going 1-for-8 against the Bearcats.
"If we're not making shots or making plays, then we're putting a lot on our teammates to do a lot of stuff that they haven't been having to do all season," Lacey said.
Jamel Artis scored 13 points for the Panthers, who won their first-ever ACC game here almost exactly a year earlier. But they had no answers after halftime against an N.C. State team playing with an extra edge.
"We've got to finish some plays," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "We've got to make the right decisions. But the defense has always got to be there. That's what we're striving for. Everybody has a game where they don't play well. I hope this is our game."
Pittsburgh: It marked only the eighth loss of at least 18 points under Dixon, now in his 12th year. ... Pitt had won six straight. .... Dixon said freshman guard Cameron Johnson's injury to his left shoulder isn't improving despite sitting out for the sixth straight game.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack blocked nine shots, with three by BeeJay Anya. ... Sophomore forward Lennard Freeman had nine rebounds while freshman Abdul-Malik Abu had eight in his first career start.
THE OTHER MARTIN
While freshman Caleb Martin has been a regular in N.C. State's rotation, twin brother Cody Martin had a larger role Saturday. He had four points, two rebounds and two steals in nine minutes. "The way he played (in practice), he basically let his play say to me, 'Coach, you better play me. I'm good enough,'" Gottfried said.
OFFENSE AND REBOUNDING
Dixon said he thought his team became impatient on a bad shooting day and it affected rebounding. "When you don't take good shots, generally you're not getting good offensive rebound opportunities," he said. "It was more like a scramble like we were playing hard and fighting and battling rather than execution on the offensive rebounds that we got."
Pittsburgh travels to Boston College on Tuesday.
N.C. State travels to No. 3 Virginia on Wednesday.
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