Dayton, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - T.J. Warren and North Carolina State are still dancing in the NCAA Tournament, as the Wolfpack pulled away from Xavier in their First Four meeting and posted a lopsided 74-59 victory.
Warren poured in 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting to lead the way for the Wolfpack (22-13), who will travel to Orlando as a No. 12 seed to face the fifth-seeded Saint Louis Billikens in the second round on Thursday.
"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. My shots wouldn't fall in the first half, but my teammates did a great job of finding me," Warren said.
Ralston Turner chipped in with 17 points and Tyler Lewis controlled the tempo with seven points, eight assists and just one turnover for the victors.
The Musketeers (21-13) totaled seven assists altogether and committed 13 turnovers in failing to earn a victory in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in their last seven appearances.
Matt Stainbrook led Xavier with 19 points and nine boards.
"Our team as a whole didn't get it done this year defensively. That's why we're going home early," said Xavier coach Chris Mack.
This season marks 40 years since David Thompson led the Wolfpack to their first national title, and while this NC State bunch snuck into the "Big Dance" by the skin of its teeth, Warren showed Tuesday he's capable of carrying the program deep into March much like Thompson did.
A two-possession stretch early in the second half saw Warren make a baseline leaner, steal a pass near midcourt and coast in for a dunk that gave NC State a 49-42 lead with just over 12 minutes to play.
Four minutes later, the ACC Player of the Year drained a tough jumper from the top of the key, then got behind the defense for another uncontested dunk off a nice feed from Lewis, pushing the margin to 57-47.
Stainbrook's putback got Xavier within seven, 57-50, but a 12-2 Wolfpack run, fittingly capped by a Warren dunk, essentially put an end to Xavier's season.
"Execution of our offense in the second half, and defensively we we're a lot better than we were in the first half. It was a good win for our team and we're excited about our opportunity to go to Orlando," said NC State coach Mark Gottfried.
Even though Warren picked up two fouls before the first official timeout, the Wolfpack dictated play in the opening half and led by as many as 10, 24-14, following a Warren dunk.
The Musketeers stayed close over the final seven minutes and were within one possession several times before Jordan Vandenberg's three-point play in the closing seconds sent NC State into the break with a 34-28 lead.
Xavier scored the game's first basket and never led again ... NC State made 54.7 percent of its shots ... Warren broke Thompson's single-season school record for points with 843. Thompson netted 838 in the 1974-75 campaign ... NC State reached the Sweet 16 in 2012 and lost its first NCAA Tournament game to Temple last season ... Xavier missed out on the NCAA Tournament last year.