Wolfpack battle Billikens in Midwest showdown

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Updated: 3/20 10:36 am

Orlando, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - After defeating Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the 12th-seeded NC State Wolfpack will try to advance even further as they take on the fifth-seeded Saint Louis Billikens in a second-round clash at the Amway Center in Orlando.

The winner of this matchup will move on to the third round Saturday and play either Louisville or Manhattan.

NC State, of the Atlantic Coast Conference, easily took care of Xavier in the first round on Tuesday night, defeating the Musketeers, 74-59. The Wolfpack were ousted from the ACC Tournament in the semifinal round by Duke, but still come into this clash with Saint Louis having won five of their last six games.

Saint Louis lost only twice in its first 27 games of the season, but dropped three of the team's last four games of the regular season entering the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. The Billikens were then defeated by St. Bonaventure, 71-68, in the conference postseason.

This will be the first-ever meeting between NC State and Saint Louis on the hardwood.

In what is continuously becoming more and more the T.J. Warren show this season for NC State, the forward helped lead his Wolfpack past Xavier with a game-high 25 points. Warren became NC State's single-season leader in points scored with 843 points, and he's not even done. Warren added five rebounds and three assists in the game against the Musketeers, whose season comes to an end with the loss. Ralston Turner chipped in 17 points, and Tyler Lewis dished out a team-best eight assists in the game, in which the Wolfpack shot 54.7 percent from the field.

Warren boosted his already team-leading scoring average with the 25-point performance Tuesday, and now enters the second-round matchup with Saint Louis scoring 24.8 ppg on an impressive 52.5 percent shooting touch this season. His 7.1 rpg mark and 60 steals are both team bests, and his 21 blocked shots are tied for second on the squad. Turner is the only other NC State player to net a double-digit scoring average with 10.4 ppg, and Lewis leads the Wolfpack with 129 assists on the year. NC State is scoring 70.9 ppg through 35 games played.

Saint Louis, which was the top overall seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, had its hopes of winning the conference title dashed in the worst possible way in the quarterfinals against St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies' Jordan Gathers drilled a 3-pointer as time expired to give his team the victory, stunning the Billikens. Mike McCall Jr. led Saint Louis with 21 points in the contest, adding seven rebounds to his stat line. Dwayne Evans netted 15 points with eight boards, and Jordair Jett scored nine with six rebounds and eight assists, also giving away six turnovers. The Billikens allowed the Bonnies to hi 51 percent of their shots from the floor.

Evans has been the go-to scorer this season for Saint Louis, netting 14 ppg entering the second-round matchup with NC State. Evans' 6.4 rpg mark is a team best, and his 38 total steals ranks third on the squad. Jett, who tallies 13.7 ppg for Saint Louis, is the only other double-digit scorer for a team averaging exactly 70 ppg through 32 games played. Jett's 153 assists and 48 steals are both team highs. The Billikens allow opponents to score just 61.2 ppg this season.

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