North Carolina State needed an amazing last-second layup by C.J. Leslie to defeat St. Bonaventure last season.
The task should be easier for the No. 25 Wolfpack this time around since Saturday's rematch is in Raleigh and the Bonnies have lost graduated star forward Andrew Nicholson to the NBA.
Both teams reached the NCAA tournament a season ago, and North Carolina State pulled out a 67-65 win over St. Bonaventure in Rochester, N.Y., last Dec. 20.
Leslie hauled in a full-court pass in traffic and scored with 0.8 seconds left to break the game's ninth and final tie. Neither team led by more than three points over the final 8:05.
The Wolfpack (8-2) return four starters from that squad and added star freshman Rodney Purvis while Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Nicholson, a first-round pick by the Orlando Magic, is gone for the Bonnies (7-3).
NC State is 5-0 at home and leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 53.0. St. Bonaventure has dropped three straight on the road.
"My thing is let's go and test ourselves," Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said. "That's why our guys came to Bonaventure. NC State is a nationally ranked team. Let's see where we stand."
The Wolfpack won their fourth straight Tuesday, 88-79 over Stanford, to reach the midpoint of this six-game homestand. Lorenzo Brown scored 18 of his season-high 24 points after halftime to give NC State some breathing room.
"I just took it upon myself," Brown said. "I know our team needed some quick buckets. ... So I took it upon myself to make good shots."
Brown led a second-half surge as the Wolfpack scored on six straight and eight of nine possessions to take a 17-point lead. The junior guard had not scored more than 18 all season.
"The difference I think for him tonight as opposed to some early games, when he got in the paint and penetrated, he was on balance, he was under control, he came out of there with good shots," coach Mark Gottfried said. "I thought early in the year he turned some of those into tough shots, so he certainly is getting better there, too."
Richard Howell finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double, and Scott Wood also added 17 points.
"Our leaders — all our leaders — stepped up and played good today," said Leslie, who scored 16.
St. Bonaventure has limited three of its last four opponents to less than 40 percent shooting. The Bonnies held The Citadel to 37.5 percent in Wednesday's 97-57 rout and finished with a 37-27 edge on the glass.
"We defended really well, we rebounded, especially in the second half, we were plus-12 in the second half," Schmidt said.
Seniors Chris Johnson and Demitrius Conger are being counted on to shoulder more of the scoring load this season, combining to average 28.5 points. No Bonnies player has scored more than 20 in a game, but seven have reached double digits at least once.
The only previous meeting between these teams before last season was when Bob Lanier led the Bonnies to an 80-68 victory in the 1970 NCAA tournament.
St. Bonaventure preview
St. Bonaventure (7-3) at No. 25 NC State (8-2)
Game time: Saturday, Dec. 22, 3 p.m. — PNC Arena in Raleigh
PG — 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr., 12.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.2 spg)
SG — 0 Rodney Purvis (6-3, 195, Fr., 9.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.6 apg)
SF — 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr., 10.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.0 bpg)
PF — 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr., 13.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.9 bpg)
C — 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr., 14.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.9 bpg)
PG — 3 Charlon Kloof (6-3, 195, Jr., 7.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg)
SG — 24 Matthew Wright (6-4, 200, Jr., 7.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.2 spg)
G — 23 Chris Johnson (6-5, 205, Sr., 14.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.4 apg)
F — 11 Demitrius Conger (6-6, 205, Sr., 14.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.1 spg)
C — 33 Marquise Simmons (6-8, 230, Jr., 8.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 0.2 bpg)
Location: Olean, N.Y.
2011-12 record: 20-12, 10-6 Atlantic 10
2012 postseason: Lost 66-63 to Florida State in first game of NCAA Tournament
Coach: Mark Schmidt sixth season at St. Bonaventure (80-83) and 11th overall (163-173)
Series: Series tied 1-1
Last meeting: NC State won 67-65 on Dec. 20, 2011, in Rochester, N.Y.
St. Bonaventure: NC State power forward C.J. Leslie took a fullcourt pass from wing C.J. Williams and made the game-winning basket with 0.6 seconds left in the Wolfpack's 67-65 win over St. Bonaventure last year in Rochester, N.Y. … Wing Scott Wood led the Wolfpack with 20 points, and Leslie had 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Center Richard Howell chipped in nine points and 13 boards, and point guard Alex Johnson went 3 of 3 from three-point land for nine points and had seven assists. Wing Demitrius Conger and current Orlando Magic post player Andrew Nicholson had 16 points for the Bonnies, and point guard Eric Mosley had 15 in the heart-breaking loss to NC State … The Bonnies have gone 2-3 on the road, falling by three points to Canisius on Nov. 17 and Arkansas State on Dec. 8, and by five to Ohio on Nov. 28. The wins came against Cornell and Niagara … St. Bonaventure and NC State both share Cleveland State as a common opponent. The Bonnies blew out Cleveland State 87-53 on Dec. 15 behind 15 points and 11 boards from Conger, who was one of four players in double figures. NC State cruised by Cleveland State 80-63 at historic Reynolds Coliseum on Dec. 8 … Conger, a senior, has scored in double figures in all but one game, including a season-high 20 against Buffalo on Dec. 1. The three-year starter has a pair of double-doubles this season. He scored a career-high 27 against Niagara on Dec. 30, 2011 … Johnson complements Conger on the wing, and has scored 19 points in four different games, and has hit at least two three-pointers in four contests. He averaged 6.4 points last year, but has increased his scoring output to 14.4 a game … Mosley had 19 points and shot 6 of 8 from three-point land at Ohio, and he has been a scoring spark off the bench with an average of 9.8 points per game … Kloof attended Canarias Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands, which produced former NCSU player Thomas De Thaey. Kloof starts at point guard and averages 7.2 points per game … Junior wing Matthew Wright is the fourth perimeter player in the Bonnies starting lineup. He had a season-high 13 points in three different games and is averaging 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest … Seven-foot sophomore Youssou Ndoye and 6-8, 230-pound junior Marquise Simmons have split the starts at center. Simmons has started the last five games and is averaging 8.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He had a season-high 15 points to go along with nine rebounds in St. Bonaventure's 97-57 win over The Citadel on Wednesday.