RALEIGH, N.C. — This wasn't what John Cooper wanted in his first game as coach at Miami (Ohio).
Playing on the road against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, the RedHawks fell behind early and never recovered in a 97-59 loss at No. 6 North Carolina State on Friday night.
"We still got a long way to go," Cooper said. "It's a whole new system for them and they're still learning it. We don't like the result of this game but we have to look to improve. I want to be able to look back over the season and see improvement from game to game. These guys haven't won many games. That's something you have to learn to do and I think we can do that."
The RedHawks shot poorly and couldn't keep the more athletic Wolfpack from constantly getting out in transition. Miami shot 22 percent in the first half and 29 percent for the game, gave up 31 fast-break points and trailed by 43 late in the game.
The RedHawks trailed 10-0 in the opening minutes and got no closer than six.
"Coach Cooper is all about attention to detail," said Allen Roberts, who scored a team-high 16 points. "In the past, we sometimes lagged in that area. Now with a new coach and new system, we have to be more attentive to details. When you don't do the little things in the game, you see an outcome like this."
For N.C. State, Richard Howell had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead a strong performance by the veterans in the season opener for both teams.
Lorenzo Brown added 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Wolfpack, who did nothing to diminish fan excitement that had built since being named the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite for the first time in nearly four decades. N.C. State shot 61 percent for the game.
While Howell and Brown had big games, preseason ACC player of the year C.J. Leslie added 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. In fact, the trio was outscoring the RedHawks entire team until midway through the second half.
Freshman guard Rodney Purvis earned the start and finished with 16 points, while senior Scott Wood added 10.
The No. 6 ranking marked a stunningly fast rise for the Wolfpack under second-year coach Mark Gottfried, who inherited a program that hadn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2006. Gottfried led N.C. State to 24 wins and the Wolfpack took eventual finalist Kansas to the final seconds in a loss in last year's NCAA round of 16, ending the program's winningest season since 1988.
He said his players would have to learn how to play with the pressure of higher expectations this year, from his four returning starters to the touted three-man recruiting class of Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. They all responded, constantly getting out in transition – including when Lewis threw a behind-the-back pass to Warren on the break for a second-half layup as the Wolfpack turned it into a romp.
The RedHawks got no closer than 16 following the first minute of the second half.
It was the first sellout for a Wolfpack season opener since 1999 against Georgia, which was also the first game in the PNC Arena.