Rodney Monroe scored 22 points and No. 19 North Carolina State beat South Carolina 81-66 today in the opening round of the NCAA tournament’s East Regional.
North Carolina State, 21-8, will meet the winner of today’s late game between No. 14 Iowa and Rutgers in the second round Sunday.
The Wolfpack, who lost first-round games the past two seasons, took control early as Monroe’s outside shooting opened the inside for some easy baskets while the Gamecocks were shooting only 38% in the first half, 9-for-24.
South Carolina, 19-11 and making its first NCAA appearance since 1974, led 5-4 when North Carolina State went on a 20-3 run with Monroe scoring half the points, six on 3-pointers.
The Wolfpack extended the lead to 30-10 before the Gamecocks made a 9-0 run and got within 30-19. But the Wolfpack answered with an 8-0 run. That helped offset a 6-0 burst at the end of the half by the Gamecocks, making it 38-25 at intermission.
South Carolina never got closer than eight points in the second half. The Gamecocks made it 58-50 with six minutes left on two free throws by John Hudson.