The manner in which North Carolina State suffered its first loss might have provided Mark Gottfried's group with a much-needed wake-up call.
With that defeat in the past, the No. 16 Wolfpack look to get back on track by continuing their dominance over visiting UNC Asheville on Friday night.Saddled with lofty preseason expectations and hardly challenged in its first three games, North Carolina State (3-1) was humbled in a 76-56 loss to Oklahoma State on Sunday in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.The Wolfpack averaged 87.7 points and shot 56.1 percent while beating Miami of Ohio, Penn State and Massachusetts by 24.4 points, but were sluggish against the Cowboys. N.C. State shot 35.5 percent, went 4 of 14 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 45-34."That was as poor a performance as we have had in a long time," Gottfried said. "I'm not sure we did a lot of things well. We came out casual and, like in a prize fight, they took it to us."It's my job to make sure we are ready to play, and we weren't ready to play."The defeat dropped N.C. State 10 spots in the poll and provided a stark reminder that it can't take anything for granted. The Wolfpack may have the talent and experience to challenge Duke and North Carolina for the ACC title, but they also need the proper attitude to succeed."We have to come out and have a better start," said freshman guard Rodney Purvis, who had a team-high 16 points. "But that won't happen anymore. This can happen any night. We have a bull's-eye on our back. We have to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for every game and come out here and play."Though N.C. State is 17-0 against Asheville, the Wolfpack may come out trying to prove a point in this tune-up before visiting fourth-ranked Michigan on Tuesday."N.C. State has a very good team, and I'm sure they're not pleased at how they played against Oklahoma State," Asheville coach and former Wolfpack player and assistant Eddie Biedenbach told his school's official website. "Obviously we're going to have our hands full."While the Wolfpack fell short of their goal in Puerto Rico, freshman T.J. Warren earned all-tournament honors by coming off the bench to average 19.3 points and 68.6 percent shooting in the three games.Asheville (1-4) was competitive in Puerto Rico, but went winless against Tennessee, Akron and Providence. The Bulldogs overcame a 13-point deficit before falling 72-67 to the Friars on Sunday for their fourth consecutive defeat."We're going to have to play better in all areas of the game to have any kind of chance (Friday)," Biedenbach said. We learned a lot in Puerto Rico against some really good teams. Hopefully we will put that knowledge to good use against N.C. State."The Bulldogs are paced by senior Jeremy Atkinson, who averages 17.0 points and 8.4 rebounds.Richard Howell (12.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg) had 14 points with 15 boards and DeShawn Painter added 12 points with 12 rebounds in N.C. State's 84-75 win over Asheville last Nov. 11. Atkinson scored 11.