Originally created 01/30/05

Wolfpack connect from long distance, down Clemson



CLEMSON, S.C. - Julius Hodge hopes to see a lot more games like this.

North Carolina State's leading scorer spent much of his Saturday passing the ball to the outside and then watching teammates Engin Atsur, Tony Bethel and Ilian Evtimov make shot after shot after shot in an 80-70 victory over Clemson.

"I could do this all day. As long as they're out there hitting shots and everyone's feeling good, I'll feed them the ball," Hodge said, smiling. "I'll be their John Stockton."

If this keeps up, the Wolfpack might be as successful as the Utah Jazz were with Stockton, the NBA's all-time assist leader, running the point.

"It feels good to help out with them making shots like that," said Hodge, who had a team-leading six assists. "I don't have to press, I don't even have to score for us to win."

Atsur had a career-high 21 points and five of the team's 13 3-pointers. The Wolfpack made 62.8 percent of their field goals (27-for-43), their best performance of the season. They were 13-for-20 from behind the arc, also the team's mark this year.

"We really did shoot the ball well, and sometimes it's not any more complicated than putting the ball in the basket," North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek said.

Hodge added 20 points for North Carolina State (13-7, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), the second time this season two Wolfpack players hit for at least 20 points in a game.

Clemson (10-10, 1-7) lost its fifth in a row and seventh of its past eight games.

Atsur and Georgetown transfer Tony Bethel got the long-range shooting started. The two combined for 17 straight points, including five 3s, as North Carolina State moved in front 25-24.

"They have three great perimeter shooters," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said, "and we could not defend against them."