RALEIGH, NC -- So much for the belief that all there is to Scott Wood's game is perimeter shooting and finesse.
The N.C. State junior swing man displayed much more variety to his arsenal in Sunday night's victory over Maryland, including some chippiness and trash talking.
"ACC basketball, it is what it is," a smiling Wood said after the Wolfpack dispatched Maryland, 79-74, at the RB Center. "People talk, as long as my team comes out on top at the end, that's all that matters."
Wood finished with 19 points, including knocking down four key free throws late that came after he was hacked by Nick Faust, a play that resulted in Wood bent over writhing in pain holding the funny bone on his left arm. He walked around for about 15 seconds and appeared incapable of shooting the ball. Referee Mike Eades even asked if he was okay to shoot the freebies.
Of course, the ACC's top free-throw shooter wasn't going to pass on an opportunity for a couple of easy points, so he went ahead and shot them and made them. Thirteen seconds later, following a foul by Mychal Parker, Wood responded to Parker saying something, drawing in Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard. Wood said a few words closing that brief but entertaining bit of discourse.
"I didn't say nothing, I can tell you that much," said Wood, who has converted all 31 of his free throw attempts this season. "He and some other people chirp, so I didn't get my two cents in, which is probably a good thing."
The exchanges are important because they illustrate the changes in Wood's game and demeanor. He too often used to only let the game go to him, which isn't always the right way to play.
An increase in offensive aggressiveness is seen in how Wood moves without the ball, how hard he cuts, and that he's not afraid of contact around the rim. Most players have to stretch their games out to the perimeter, Wood needed to bring his inside the arc and utilize his beautiful stroke to knock down jumpers everywhere on the floor.
Only one of his six field goals Sunday was a 3-pointer, the rest a bevy of short and mid-range jumpers and even a driving layup.
"I thought a couple of times we really executed our offense well, we really executed a play to get him the basketball," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "It's something that maybe we didn't do as well of earlier in the year, and I think a little better now. And obviously, late in the game even when he gets the funny bone hit, he still hasn't missed a foul shot this year. He's been really, really good."
The win marked another occasion in which the Wolfpack (14-2, 1-0 ACC) under Gottfried has made clear strides forward. It ended a 9-game losing streak to the Terrapins, and starting out the ACC with a win -- something this growing team can build on.
"I think it's big, especially to get a little bit of momentum and kind of get your feet wet for some people," Wood said. "It's always good to get a win, especially against a good ACC opponent."
On this night, a quality ACC opponent with wins over Colorado and Notre Dame tried to take away Wood's 3-point shooting, and he responded with a terrific performance. It was almost as if he welcomed the idea of showing off his wide-ranging game.
Teams taking away the 3 has forced Wood to find more creative ways to score, thus opening up his game, a reason his scoring average is up to 12.5 per game after averaging 9.7 a year ago.
The 6-foot-6 native of Marion, IN, even registered two blocked shots on the night, the second one of Howard, which may have been what set off the Terrapin. One thing is for certain, Wood's teammates know his package is evolving in execution and with his mouth. And they like it.
"I guess that's what we need," junior forward Richard Howell said. "We need somebody like Scott to step and talk a little bit of trash."
Not to mention regularly displaying his new multi-dimensional skill set.