Quick hits and notes from No. 18 NC State's 91-83 win over archrival North Carolina in front of 19,557 spirited fans at the PNC Arena in Raleigh Saturday evening.
Play of the game
When NC State is on its game, they are a far superior team to UNC. However, the Pack, in head coach Mark Gottfried's opinion, got a little tired in the second half and let a 28-point lead gradually erode. The score was 74-63 NC State when senior wing Scott Wood nailed a three on the left wing while getting fouled by UNC senior guard Dexter Strickland. The four-point play gave State some cushion at 78-63 and allowed the partisan crowd at PNC Arena to breathe a little easier.
Highlight of the game
NC State's transition game was way too much for UNC and provided loads of highlight moments, but it was in the half court that NCSU produced a play that had twitter erupting and PNC Arena in a frenzy.
Wolfpack junior guard Lorenzo Brown noticed that Strickland and UNC sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo were late on a switch, and Brown whipped a pass to uncovered junior forward C.J. Leslie standing near the block.
Leslie skied high for a tomahawk dunk over UNC sophomore forward Jackson Simmons, posterizing Simmons while getting fouled on the play. Leslie made the free throw to give NCSU a 27-18 lead with 6:00 left in the first half.
Player of the game
For the third straight game and fourth time in ACC play, Brown had a double-double for NC State. He led all scorers with 20 points and also had a game-high 11 assists. That is Brown's fifth double-double of the year after he had collected just one prior to this season.
It was also the first double-double in points and assists against UNC since former Duke guard Nolan Smith did it in the 2011 ACC Tournament. Brown is the first player to have at least 10 assists against the Heels this season.
What made Brown's performance even more impressive was his thorough domination of UNC freshman point guard Marcus Paige. Paige finished with seven points, all of them in the final 8:04 of the game, and four assists with three turnovers.
Paige struggled so much that UNC walk-on guard Luke Davis played six minutes in the second half. Davis, the older brother of NC State rising redshirt freshman linebacker Drew Davis, had not played in an ACC game prior to Saturday night.
27 dominating minutes
When Brown went coast-to-coast for a layup with 13:18 to go, NC State had a 61-33 lead over UNC. After that point, to UNC's credit, they fought and actually had the margin trimmed to 85-80 with 30.7 seconds left.
Regardless, the win gave NC State wins over Duke and UNC at home for the first time since the 2002-03 season, and the 91 points were the most scored against the Tar Heels since State won 98-76 over the Heels in February of 2002. The last time State beat both Tobacco Road rivals in one year was the 2006-07 campaign.
It was a team effort for the Pack. Senior center Richard Howell had yet another double-double, contributing 16 points and 14 rebounds. He has had a double-double in every ACC game this year and 14 times overall this season. He now has 25 for his career, the most since Todd Fuller had 39 from 1993-96.
Howell had six offensive boards in the win, moving him into third all-time in school history for career offensive rebounds with 342.
Leslie also had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, although he also had a career-worst seven turnovers. Nevertheless, that was Leslie's fourth double-double of the season and 16th of his career. Leslie and Howell became the first duo to record a double-double in points and rebounds against UNC since UNLV's Mike Moser and Chace Stanback in November of 2011.
Freshman forward T.J. Warren (19 points) and Wood (12) both reached double-figures. That was Warren's third straight contest in double figures, and Wood made 3 of 6 three-pointers. Prior to Saturday, Wood had made just 6 of 35 threes in his previous seven games against the Tar Heels.
NC State used a superior transition game to crush the Heels for much of the contest. They ended the game with a 39-19 fast break points advantage. That helped State shoot 32 of 65 from the field for 49.2 percent, the highest shooting mark against UNC this year, topping the 48.0 percent by Florida State Jan. 12.
But State was also in sharp form shooting-wise. They made 7 of 13 three-pointers for 53.8 percent and matched its best shooting performance at the line by going 20 of 23, the exact same output they had in their win over No. 1 Duke Jan. 12. It also happened to be just UNC's luck that the Pack set a new best by a Carolina opponent for free throw percentage with a minimum of 10 attempts.
The Pack improved to 4-0 this season when they make at least half of their three-point shots.
NC State's 91 points were the most for the Pack in an ACC game this year and most since they had 92 points vs. St. Bonaventure Dec. 22. It was also the most allowed by UNC this year, topping the 85 points Texas scored on them Dec. 19.
Spotted at the game
A packed crowd saw the ESPN Gameday crew working on their set on the court up until shortly before tipoff. There were also several notable recruits in attendance, led by top senior forward Julius Randle from Piano (Tex.) Prestonwood Christian Academy.
The nation's second-ranked senior heard his name chanted during halftime.
For a complete list of some of the basketball recruits in attendance, click here.
NC State also had an impressive list of in-state juniors at the game on the football side. Click here for the list of who was spotted before the game.
NCSU's all-NFL 2010 linebacker crew was also at the game to receive the 2013 Wolfpack Unlimited Award. Audie Cole, Nate Irving and Terrell Manning were presented with the trophy on behalf of the NC State players who made the NFL Playoffs this year by first-year head coach Dave Doeren.
What the win means
NC State improved to 16-4 overall and 5-2 in the ACC. The Pack is all alone in second place in the conference behind Miami, who is 6-0. The Pack and Canes meet at the PNC Arena next Saturday. Chapel Hill falls to 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the ACC, tied for fifth place with Florida State whom the Heels defeated earlier this year.
The last time NC State was 16-4 after 20 games was the 2005-06 season. That team would win four straight to reach 20-4 before losing again. They were 22-5 before ending the season with five losses in its final six games, four of them by at least 13 points.
That team was also the last time NCSU was 5-2 in the ACC after seven conference games. They would finish 10-6 in league action.
Gottfried improved his record at NC State to 40-17, becoming the fastest Wolfpack coach to get to 40 wins since Everett Case did it in 47 games from 1946-48.
The Pack ends its 13-game losing streak to the Heels and in the process extended its home winning streak to 13 straight games, the 13th longest in the country.
UNC still holds overall leads in the series (147-76), games played on State's home court (61-45) and specifically at the PNC Arena (11-4).
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded North Carolina 42-32 overall and 12-9 on the offensive glass. Both teams had 12 second-chance points however.
- NC State outscored UNC in the paint 44-34.
- North Carolina won the turnover margin 16-14 and used that to get a 18-16 edge in points off turnovers.
- UNC's bench badly outscored State's reserves 47-19. Warren had all of NCSU bench points.