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Wolfpack coast to 81-62 win over Wildcats

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Four players in double figures. A healthy
advantage in rebounds. A 19-point victory.

Somehow, few on the North Carolina State side were satisfied.

"New Hampshire made us look bad," coach Herb Sendek said.
"Our attention has got to be on our defense."

Still, the 19th-ranked Wolfpack won 81-62 Wednesday night behind
15 points from Engin Atsur -- all on 3-pointers -- and 14 from
reserve Andrew Brackman.

Ilian Evtimov had 11 points for N.C. State (10-1), which tuned
up for Friday's game with No. 12 George Washington with its fifth
straight victory. But the Wolfpack were outscored by seven points
in the second half and allowed an opponent to shoot better than 40
percent for the second consecutive game.

Those are the only two times it's happened this season.

"The other team came out and knocked down a lot of 3s, and they
were doing pretty well for themselves," Evtimov said. "We
couldn't stop them, unfortunately. That's not a good sign. We're a
good defensive team, and we just let them off the hook."

This one appeared to get ugly from the start for the Wildcats
(2-10). Jamaal Caterina was called for a foul just seven seconds after
the opening tip while trying to guard N.C. State center Cedric
Simmons in the paint. Another whistle against Caterina about 2½
minutes later -- again while matched up against Simmons -- sent him
to the bench.

And leading scorer Blagoj Janev finished with only seven points,
about half his average. He didn't take his first shot until eight
minutes were left in the opening half, and he got his first points
on a pair of free throws early in the second half. In fact, all but
three of his points came at the line.

It's been that kind of year for New Hampshire and first-year
coach Bill Herrion. He spent the previous six seasons at East
Carolina -- about a 90-minute ride from Raleigh -- before getting
fired, and decided to take on the task of rebuilding one of the
worst programs in Division I.

The Wildcats have had two winning seasons in the past 21 years
and never have been to the NCAA tournament or the NIT. With their
seventh loss in eight games, they likely won't end that drought
this year.

"It's been a difficult stretch for us," Herrion said. "We're
young, we've been beaten around, and we've played 10 of our first
12 games on the road."

Of course, none of that really mattered to the Wolfpack. They
methodically went about their business and got another their
lopsided victory to improve to 8-0 at home.

N.C. State pulled away mostly from the perimeter, and even when
the shots weren't falling, someone often was there for an offensive
rebound. In the first half alone, the Wolfpack shot 8-of-16 from
beyond the arc and 16-for-32 overall. Of those 16 misses, 10 were
corralled by one of their players.

"They have a lot of weapons, and you really have to pick your
poison defensively," Herrion said. "You can play man, but they're
very patient in their offense and take you to the basket. Then,
when you play zone, they spread you out and kill you with
3-pointers."

One stretch was particularly damaging to New Hampshire. With the
score 22-9, Atsur sandwiched a couple of 3s around an inside basket
by Simmons, and Cameron Bennerman added two of his own to give the
Wolfpack a 39-18 lead.

They hardly were done, thanks to some brilliant unselfishness
best highlighted with one sequence a few minutes later. On one fast
break, all five players touched the ball and passed to a teammate
without dribbling, with Tony Bethel taking an open 3-pointer.

He missed, but Grant was there for the offensive rebound and
turned the opportunity into two free throws. In all, N.C. State
finished with 21 assists and only five turnovers, easily its best
ratio of the season.

"When you play unselfishly, you give it to the next guy, and
then the next guy plays unselfishly, and it starts spreading around
the team," Evtimov said. "That's good, that's what we need."

Chris Vetrano had 14 of his 17 points in the second half for New
Hampshire.

"We're just lucky we don't have to play against teams like this
every night, because they're a good team," said Wildcats forward
Mike Christensen, who had 10 points.