Keatts era at NC State begins with impressive victory

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
Kevin Keatts speaks to the media after being introduced at Reynolds Coliseum last April (Photo by Eamon Queeney/North State Journal)

RALEIGH — Markell Johnson recorded 14 points, nine assists and four steals as North Carolina State began the Kevin Keatts era with a 102-67 victory over Virginia Military Institute on Friday.

All five Wolfpack starters reached double figures in points. Allerik Freeman had 17 points and eight rebounds, Torin Dorn scored 16 to go along with eight boards, Lennard Freeman registered 15 points and six rebounds, and Sam Hunt contributed 11 points and three steals. Dorn was 7-for-11 from the field to help N.C. State (1-0) shoot 50.7 percent from the floor.

Omer Yurtseven added 13 points of the bench for the Wolfpack.

Bubba Parham scored 22 points for the Keydets (0-1), who shot 36 percent from the field and were 4-for-20 from 3-point range.

N.C. State raced to a 23-4 lead as Dorn recorded seven points and two rebounds during the burst. Dorn finished the first half with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting as the Wolfpack enjoyed a 56-24 lead at the break.

VMI turned it over 13 times in the first 20 minutes and 19 times for the game.

Freeman registered eight points, six rebounds and three assists in the first half, going 6-for-7 from the free-throw line and 1-for-7 from the floor.

Dorn’s three-point play gave N.C. State a 71-39 lead with 13:42 remaining.

Keatts, who was 72-28 with two NCAA Tournament appearances at UNC Wilmington over the last three seasons, replaced the fired Mark Gottfried.

The Wolfpack was voted to finish 12th in the 15-team ACC while the Keydets were selected to finish 10th and last in the Southern Conference.