Warren leads NC State past Xavier, 74-59

JOE KAY AP Sports Writer Published:

DAYTON (AP) -- Two missed shots, two quick fouls. T.J. Warren's second chance at the NCAA tournament didn't start very well at all.

It ended with the ACC's top player putting on a show.

The hard-to-guard sophomore forward scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half on Tuesday night, showing why he was chosen as the ACC's player of the year, and North Carolina State led most of the way in a 74-59 victory over Xavier in the NCAA tournament's First Four.

N.C. State (22-12) didn't have much time to celebrate. The 12th-seeded Wolfpack headed to the airport for a two-hour flight to Orlando, Fla., and a game today against St. Louis in the Midwest Regional.

Warren had the most to do with it. He made up for a freshman tournament flop on the same floor a year earlier and prevented Xavier (21-14) from getting any traction in the second half.

"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive," said Warren, who was 10 of 18 from the field. "My shots wouldn't fall in the first half, but my teammates did a great job of finding me."

No surprise there.

"Eventually in a 40-minute game, he's going to find a way," coach Mark Gottfried said.

Center Matt Stainbrook led Xavier with 19 points and nine rebounds despite an injured left knee. Leading scorer Semaj Christon was limited to 14 points, and Xavier made only 2 of 14 shots from beyond the arc.

Xavier's biggest disappointment was its inability to slow down the Wolfpack in the second half, when N.C. State shot 61.5 percent from the field.

"We weren't ourselves today on defense," Strainbrook said. "We build our identity on defense. When we can't get stops, it ruins everything else. Overall, it was just a shambles."

Xavier was playing in a familiar arena less than an hour from campus. Familiar, but not entirely friendly. Fans of the Dayton Flyers -- a long-time rival -- booed loudly as they took the court, making for a mixed welcome with a lot of Musketeer fans in the stands as well.

Warren made it all a moot point, helping N.C. State take all the drama out of the game over the final 11 minutes. Ralston Turner added 17 points.

The Wolfpack went six years between NCAA appearances before Gottfried got them there three years in a row. This was his youngest and least-experienced team: Only two players with tournament experience. They got one of the final at-large bids with a strong closing run, winning five of their last six games, including an upset of Syracuse in the ACC tournament.

ALBANY 71, MOUNT ST. MARY'S 64

DAYTON -- D.J. Evans scored 22 points, including two clinching free throws with 12.6 seconds left, to lead Albany to its first NCAA tournament victory, 71-64 over Mount St. Mary's in the First Four.

The Great Danes (19-14) advance to meet top-ranked Florida today in Orlando.

It was a wild game of incredible turnarounds, with the Great Danes bolting to leads of 13-0 and 21-2, only to have The Mount (16-17) bounce back with a 21-2 run of its own to pull even.

Peter Hooley had 20 points and Gary Johnson 13 for Albany.

Will Miller led The Mount with 21.

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