Johnson returns, leads NC State past Detroit Mercy

Fellow guard Braxton Beverly scored a career-high 23 points for the Wolfpack

Point guard Markell Johnson, pictured in an October exhibition, returned to the NC State lineup after missing the season opener, helping the Wolfpack to a win over Detroit Mercy on Sunday. (Ethan Hyman / The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH — Braxton Beverly scored a career-high 23 points to help NC State beat Detroit Mercy 84-65 on Sunday.

C.J. Bryce added 19 points for the Wolfpack (1-1), who welcomed back starting point guard Markell Johnson.

Devon Daniels had 14 points off the bench as the Wolfpack avoided their first 0-2 start since the 1993-94 season.

Johnson missed NC State’s opener, an 82-81 overtime loss to Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, with an ankle injury. He scored only three points against the Titans, but he finished with 10 assists and seven rebounds.

“It was great having him back,” Daniels said. “It makes everything easier out there for us.”

Beverly made 6 of 8 3-point attempts, 3 of 4 in each half. He scored 14 points in the first half as NC State took a 43-30 halftime lead.

The Wolfpack took control early, scoring on four consecutive possessions as part of a 10-0 run to seize a 13-6 lead.

“I love the way the team played,” Johnson said. “We got out in transition and got back on defense.”

Antoine Davis scored 28 points to lead the Titans, who shot 5 of 25 from 3-point range in their season opener.

Big Picture

Detroit Mercy: The Titans return just two of their seven players who averaged more than four points per game a year ago, so they might need time to develop chemistry. Perhaps the team can use its first seven games, all away from home, to bond during nearly 10,000 miles of travel. “It’s a chance for us to get better,” Detroit Mercy coach Mike Davis said. “We’ve got some games against really tough opponents.”

NC State: Starting post player D.J. Funderburk remained out with an indefinite suspension, so the Wolfpack still weren’t at full strength. But NC State showed that it’s a different team with Johnson at point guard. He made a major impact on the game despite shooting just 1 of 8.

Family Ties

As Detroit Mercy coach Mike Davis was coaching his son Antoine, another famous coach in the building watched his son play for the Titans. Kentucky coach John Calipari looked on as his son Brad went scoreless in 15 minutes.

Star Watch

Antoine Davis was a marked man by NC State’s defense after he averaged 26.1 points per game last season and broke Stephen Curry’s NCAA record for most 3-pointers by a freshman. He shot 11 of 23 from the floor, converting several contested, off-balance attempts. “They made him work really hard,” Mike Davis said.

Block Party

Freshman Manny Bates scored eight points for NC State, asserting himself with alley-oop dunks on lobs over Detroit Mercy’s 1-3-1 zone. But he made an even bigger impact on defense, where he blocked seven shots and changed a few others. Bates has 12 blocks through the Wolfpack’s first two games.

“The dude is a game-changer on the back end of the press,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.

Up Next

Detroit Mercy: The Titans play another Atlantic Coast Conference foe on the road when they take on Clemson on Sunday.

NC State: The Wolfpack host Florida International on Wednesday night at PNC Arena, where they have won 33 of their last 34 nonconference games.