Bryce big in 2nd half, NC State holds off FIU, 86-77

Chase for the Championship
Kevin Keatts_1541557659449

North Carolina State head coach Kevin Keatts talks to his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball tournament first-round game against Seton Hall, Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Wichita, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State finally had a full roster — and most of those players found their scoring touch.

C.J. Bryce scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half, and N.C. State had six double-figure scorers in its 86-77 victory over Florida International on Wednesday night.

Pat Andree and Devon Daniels added 14 points apiece to help N.C. State (2-1) win its second straight. The Wolfpack played eight players and each of them logged at least 14 minutes.

“You notice through our games, nobody on our team is going to put up 30 points a game,” said D.J. Funderburk, a forward who missed the first two games because he was suspended indefinitely for violating team policy.

“The point spread is kind of equal, everybody can go get a bucket,” he added, “and as long as we keep playing together and keep composure down the stretch, we’ll be all right.”

Funderburk finished with 11 points while Markell Johnson and Manny Bates each had 10. N.C. State beat FIU at its own game, forcing 22 turnovers from an FIU team that itself thrives on takeaways.

Devon Andrews scored a season-best 21 points and Tevin Brewer finished with a season-best 19 for the Panthers (1-2). They had the ball trailing by six points in the final minute before Cameron Corcoran missed a 3-pointer and Markell Johnson hit a free throw with 42.2 seconds remaining to put N.C. State up 81-74.

Brewer was called for double dribbling with 28.9 seconds left, Bryce hit a free throw with 27.9 seconds to play, Antonio Daye Jr. turned it over on FIU’s next possession and Bryce pushed the lead to 84-74 with two free throws with 21.5 seconds to play.

N.C. State also built a 38-31 rebounding advantage, turning that into 20 second-chance points to just seven for the Panthers.

BIG PICTURE

Florida International: The Panthers are at their best when they’re forcing turnovers and generating steals and deflections — they led the nation with averages of 19.6 turnovers forced and 5.6 steals last season —and forced at least 18 turnovers in both of their previous games. The tables turned in this one: They went almost six minutes in the second half between field goals, turning it over eight times during a 10-possession stretch, and finished with 22 of them.

“We got shots up, we were scoring and we were efficient,” coach Jeremy Ballard said. “But way too often, we gave the other team the ball. … Last year, we made our money on turning people over and valuing the ball. … But right now, we’re just not valuing the ball enough, and it’s a shame because we score when we take care of it.”

N.C. State: The Wolfpack finally had their full complement of players with Funderburk making his season debut 3:33 in, and coach Kevin Keatts certainly was glad to have more bodies on his bench.

“I probably, two weeks ago, had the best eight-man practice schedule you could have, and I’m tired of that,” Keatts said. “Now it’s good to have five-on-five.”

HOT HAND

With N.C. State down 10 early, Andree hit four 3s in the span of three minutes, with the fourth tying it at 24 with 8 ½ minutes before the break.

WELCOME BACK

This was a homecoming for two FIU players: Senior guard Trejon Jacob is from Raleigh while nearby Durham is the hometown of sophomore guard Antonio Daye Jr.

UP NEXT

Florida International: Plays at Cleveland State on Nov. 19.

N.C. State: Plays host to St. Francis (N.Y.) on Saturday.

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