Takeaways from NC States runaway win over Lynn in first exhibition game

Dennis Smith, Abdul-Malik Abu pace Wolfpack in 100-66 win over Lynn University in PNC Arena

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas (2) and NC State forward Abdul-Malik Abu (2) tip off at PNC Arena Saturday

RALEIGH — NC State did exactly what it needed to do against Lynn University in its opening exhibition game, routing the Knights by a final of 100-66 in PNC Arena Thursday night.After almost a year of waiting, NC State fans finally got to see Dennis Smith Jr. in action, and he didn’t disappoint. The freshman phenom played just 28 minutes, but finished with 22 points, six assist and five rebounds.With one more exhibition remaining before State opens the regular season against Georgia Southern, here’s a look at four takeaways from the convincing win over Lynn.Smith does it allIn case you haven’t heard, Dennis Smith Jr. is really good at this whole basketball thing. He proved just that on Thursday night by posting 22 points in less than three quarters of the game (28 minutes).Sure, he was playing against a roster that had three guards at 5-foot-9 or smaller, but Smith’s talent was undeniable. Whether it was a perfect alley-oop to Omer Yurtseven from halfcourt, multiple drives to the basket for difficult layups, or going 2-for-4 from three-point range, DSJ showed out against Lynn.”It’s been since mid-July since I’ve played in front of fans, so hearing anybody cheering was crazy,” Smith said. “It’s so exciting, man. It’s been a long time coming. Now I’ve got to make the most of it.”Obviously Smith will hear louder ovations when regular season games are played at PNC Arena and likely deafening cheers when ACC play gets underway. But with the DSJ era officially getting underway, NC State fans have plenty of reason to be excited after what they saw on Thursday.Abu comfy with small lineupThe announcement that Yurtseven will be out the first nine games of the season gives NC State minimal options in terms of starting lineups. On Thursday against Lynn, Mark Gottfried deployed Smith, Abdul-Malik Abu, Maverick Rowan, Terry Henderson and Torin Dorn. Of those, Dorn is the least likely to start once Yurtseven makes his return.Going with a small lineup means only Abu is left in the paint to pull down rebounds. Against Lynn, Abu cleaned up with 10 points and 12 rebounds in the first half alone. He finished 15 rebounds in just 22 minutes, but admitted he let Yurtseven and Rowan take a few to up their spirits.”Sometimes I let it go, other times nah,” Abu said of Yurtseven trying to take a rebound away. “I was like, ‘Your time will come, young Padawan.’ Don’t steal my rebounds just yet.”With Rowan playing the four, he has been charged with attempting to pull down more rebounds than his 3.1 per game last season. However, Abu isn’t letting him get greedy either.”Maverick asked me, he was like, ‘Yo, I need six more to get a double-double,'” Abu explained, “I said, ‘Maverick, six is a lot.’ If it was two, I’d be like, ‘Here, take two.’ But six? I don’t know man. I’m not gonna let you get six rebounds man.”Kirk still has bunniesComing into his freshman season with NC State, Shaun Kirk was seen as an athletic player who could make an impact after turning down Kentucky. That didn’t exactly happen, and Kirk spent most of last season on the bench despite the team struggling to find any semblance of an offense.Kirk showed that high-flying talent against Lynn with 11 points, six of which came on huge dunks. Kirk threw down in relief of Rowan in a big way, with Abu taking notice from the bench.”I could watch him dunk all day,” Abu said of Kirk. “He’s another young guy who’s been waiting his turn, waiting for his time. So he’s just getting his feet wet as well.”Later in the game, Markell Johnson dunked in transition over a defender to prove Kirk wasn’t the only guy who played NBA Jam as a kid. His inspiration, of course, was watching Kirk rock the rim.”Oh yeah, when you see Kirk go up, you know it’s a dunk,” Johnson said. “You already know.”Bonus: J. Cole is a Pack fan (or at least DSJ)Smith wasn’t the only Fayetteville product at PNC Arena on Thursday night. Rapper J. Cole also attended the first half of the game to watch Smith, who says he has played several late-night games at NC State against the rapper.
Cole World running with the Pack this year. A photo posted by Cory Smith (@rcorysmith) on Nov 3, 2016 at 6:55pm PDT While he’s not going to exactly show up on the stat sheet for NC State, having J. Cole in the crowd gives Wolfpack games some added intrigue this year. Not that they’ll need it with two potential lottery picks on the roster.