RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — There’s a lot of new pieces for North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts to sort through in his overhauled lineup.
There’s plenty of versatility, the athleticism to get loose in tempo-quickening transition and even enough outside shooting despite starting the year with the team’s best 3-point threat sidelined by injury.
Torin Dorn had a career-high 28 points while N.C. State shot 65 percent after halftime to beat Mount St. Mary’s 105-55 on Tuesday night, opening Keatts’ second season in Raleigh with a blowout win fueled by a dominating final 13 minutes.
“When we get out in transition and we start playing, we can be a very good basketball team,” Keatts said.
Markell Johnson added 17 points for the Wolfpack (1-0), who have 10 new players and several transfers — including two who sat out due to NCAA rules while working out with the team all last year.
“It was a good game for us because we were able to see two different teams,” Keatts said. “And what I mean by that is we’ve had a couple of guys that haven’t played basketball in over a year and a half. … Then once we settled in, I thought we played great.”
N.C. State led just 56-46 with 13:37 left before Johnson hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 21-2 rout-creating burst, which saw the Wolfpack abruptly go from can’t-hit to can’t-miss shooting from behind the arc.
“We were able to see a lot of different lineup combinations and a lot of different defenses that we can play,” Dorn said. “I think in the second half, we were able to iron out some of those things and play a little better — share the ball, move the ball.”
Jalen Gibbs scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Mountaineers (0-1), who trailed 40-30 at halftime.
“I thought we competed really hard for 25 minutes,” first-year Mount St. Mary’s coach Dan Engelstad said. “I thought we put a really good effort forward. I just thought we got fatigued so we’ve got to help our conditioning out a little bit. And then when that lead started to build, I think we needed to do a better job of making sure we stay together and stay the course.”
Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers have 10 new players on the roster and a new coach in Engelstad, who left Southern Vermont after five seasons to take over after Jamion Christian left to become Siena’s head coach in the spring. Gibbs, who played at Drake last year, was the only player who got into much of a rhythm as the Mountaineers fell to 3-27 in season openers since moving to Division I for the 1988-89 season.
“The biggest thing right now is we’re trying to find out what we have,” Engelstad said.
N.C. State: This was just a first step (that counts in the standings, anyway) toward the process of building a cohesive unit that is ready to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. As with Mount St. Mary’s, there are 10 newcomers to the team. And five transfers saw action Tuesday, including C.J. Bryce (UNC Wilmington), Devon Daniels (Utah) and Samford graduate transfer Wyatt Walker in the starting lineup. Fittingly, Dorn as the team’s top returning scorer led the way in a strong start to his final season.
N.C. State made just 2 of 12 3s in the first 25 minutes. The Wolfpack went 8 of 10 from behind the arc the rest of the night in a dominating sprint to the final horn.
Not bad for a team that is missing sophomore Braxton Beverly, who is out with a broken left hand. Beverly made nearly 39 percent of his 3s last year.
“It was good for some of those guys to see the ball go in,” Keatts said. “With Braxton we’re a really good 3-point shooting team. Without him, we’re average.”
Mount St. Mary’s: The Mountaineers of the Northeast Conference visit Hofstra on Friday.
N.C. State: Maryland-Eastern Shore visits the Wolfpack on Saturday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap