Columbus, Ohio -- Instant analysis from N.C. State-San Diego State.
Overview: The first-half scoreboard was deceptive in this game. North Carolina State, an 11-seed competing in its first NCAA tournament since 2006, led San Diego State, a 6-seed making its third consecutive appearance, by four points (33-29).
But the Wolfpack had dominated San Diego State inside by that point. North Carolina State had a 16-8 advantage in the paint at the break. And its size advantage continued to play a factor for the remainder of the game.
San Diego State, a team that starts four guards, was forced to go big early and put 6-8 DeShawn Stephens and 6-11 Garrett Green on the floor for lengthy periods together.
But the Aztecs didn’t have an answer for 6-8, 250-pound forward Richard Howell who had his way inside and scored 22 points. C.J. Leslie attacked the lane, too, and added 15 points that included multiple dunks. With SDSU searching for a way to limit the Wolfpack inside, Lorenzo Brown scored 17 points.
N.C. State continued to bully the Aztecs inside and separated in the second half. The Wolfpack led by 10 with 5:33 to play.
Turning point: A quick 8-2 run put N.C. State up 43-36. Didn’t seem like much but with the way the Wolfpack dominated inside, they held onto it. A late 9-4 run put the Wolfpack ahead by 10.
Key player: Howell was a beast from tipoff. He scored 22 on 10-of-12 shooting from the field.
Key stat: Four N.C. State players recorded double figures. N.C. State shot 57 percent from the field.
Miscellaneous: N.C. State is such a talented team. It’s surprising that they didn’t make more of a push in the ACC. … Leslie had about four monstrous dunks in the game. But he also had moments where he failed to use his athletic advantage and took a bad shot. .. .Jamaal Franklin gave it everything he had in this one. He scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
What’s next: N.C. State will play the winner of the Georgetown-Belmont game.