Monday, January 16, 2012

Wolfpack's C.J. Williams accepts the challenge

C.J. Williams spent his first three seasons at N.C. State as a beacon of hard work and hustle on teams otherwise lacking in both categories. As a senior he has emerged as both a leader and reliable scorer, to complement his yeoman effort.

So if anyone was going to be receptive to being called out by the coach, it was Williams, who was challenged by Mark Gottfried to step up his defense after giving up big scoring efforts to Terrell Stoglin and Glen Rice in N.C. State's first two ACC games.

"Being a senior, you have to be able to take that," Williams said. "Coach is definitely on me a little more than everybody but I accept that challenge."

Williams did so, and then some, in holding Wake Forest's Travis McKie, the second-leading scorer in the ACC, to two points in Saturday's ridiculously easy-looking 76-40 win.

Williams, Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood all combined to defend McKie and C.J. Harris and hold the Deacons to 2 of 20 from 3-point range.

Defending the 3-point line has been one of N.C. State's biggest problems this season. The Pack is one of the worst teams in the country in that category, and Georgia Tech burned them from beyond the arc in Wednesday's loss in Raleigh, but State contested shots and closed out shooters on Saturday better than it has at any other point during the season.

-- J.P. Giglio