Quick hits and notes from NC State's 81-66 victory over Wake Forest Wednesday evening in front of 16,892 fans at the PNC Arena in Raleigh.
Play of the game
On senior night, wing Scott Wood's heads up play showed the value of a veteran player like himself. Wake Forest led 16-15 when NC State had to inbound the ball near the scorer's table. While the ref held the ball out, both teams were casually setting up for a quick, easy throw-in into the backcourt to junior guard Lorenzo Brown.
Before the ref fully gave the ball to Wood however, Wood reached out, grabbed the ball and slung it down towards the baseline to a wide open freshman forward T.J. Warren for a dunk. That gave NC State a 17-16 lead with 9:19 to go in the first half and started a 13-0 run that put the Pack up for good.
Highlight of the game
Junior forward C.J. Leslie's overplay on defense allowed him to steal a pass by Wake freshman guard Madison Jones. What ensued was a two-on-one fast break with Jones the lone defender back for Wake. Leslie lofted a perfect alley-oop ass to Brown for a two-handed dunk to give NC State a 49-28 advantage and force Wake Forest to call a timeout with 16:12 to go.
Player of the game
Leslie started a little slow, missing four of his first five attempts from the field, but his activeness never waned. He ended up making 7 of his last 10 shots to finish with a game-high 19 points. He added a team-high 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the year. (NC State leads the ACC with 33 overall double-doubles on the season.)
Leslie's all-around game included a career-high matching four assists, which he had done two previous times in his career, and four blocks, matching the game at Clemson Feb. 10 for a season-high. Perhaps most impressively, Leslie did not turn the ball over once, the first time he has been able to say that in a game this year and first since his stellar performance against UNC in the PNC Arena last season.
Wednesday night was the last time Wood and center Richard Howell heard their names called at the PNC Arena. Both though probably could have had better nights.
Wood struggled shooting for the second straight game. He made 2 of 7 shots and 1 of 5 threes to finish with eight points. In his last two games, Wood is 3 of 15 from the field and 1-10 on three-pointers. He still tied former Duke guard Jason Williams for eighth place all-time in ACC history for made three-pointers and is nine behind Rodney Monroe for the most in school history. Wood, assuming NC State is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, has at least three games to reach Monroe's mark.
Howell was benched must of the first half with two fouls and finished with nine points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. He needs four more boards to reach 1,000 career rebounds. He would be just the fifth player in NC State history to reach that milestone.
Also making an appearance on senior night was walk-on guard Jay Lewis. He played the final two minutes of the contest, and much to the delight of the Wolfpack bench and the partisan crowd nailed his second career three-pointer.
NC State is 2-0 on home senior nights under head coach Mark Gottfried. They have a chance to improve to 5-0 overall on senior nights Saturday afternoon at Florida Stae.
Freshmen shine on senior night
Ironically, senior night belonged to the freshmen. Warren made 7 of 13 shots, including his one three-pointer, for 15 points. Warren has scored in double-figures six straight contests and is averaging 16.6 points a game since being inserted into the starting lineup five contests ago.
Purvis gave NC State an effective boost off the bench, especially with Howell in foul trouble. He scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and made a career-high matching three three-pointers in four attempts.
Both Purvis and Warren have shot the ball well from three-point range this season. Purvis has made 30 of 74 threes for 40.5 percent and Warren is 13 of 24 for 54.2 percent.
Spotted at the game
Five-star point guard Anthony Barber from Hampton (Va.) High, NC State's top signee in the 2013 class, was in attendance. So too was a pair of highly regarded junior forwards: four-star Isaac Copeland from Miller School in Crozet, Va., and three-star Gary Clark, who has been posting impressive numbers this season for Clayton (N.C.) High.
Former NC State player Gavin Grant was also at the game.
Not spotted at the game was Wake Forest freshman guard Codi Miller-McIntyre. He missed the game with a strep throat. Miller-McIntyre is averaging 8.1 points and 2.5 assists a game as Wake's starting point guard.
What the win means
NC State is 22-8 overall and 11-6 in the ACC while Wake Forest is 12-17 and 5-12 in the conference. The Pack has won six of its last seven contests while the Deacs have lost 9 of 11 since their upset win over State in Winston-Salem Jan. 22.
NC State is temporarily in fourth place in the conference pending the outcome of Thursday night's game of Virginia at Florida State. Virginia is a half-game behind the Pack.
For NCSU to earn a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament, they would need to beat FSU and get one loss between UVA's final two games (they close the season Sunday at home against Maryland). If Virginia were to lose out, then NC State's game Saturday would essentially not matter.
NCSU has not won 11 conference games since the 2003-04 squad finished the regular season 11-5 in the ACC. One more win would match the school-record for most ever wins in conference play. This is the first year the ACC has played 18 league games. The 22 regular season wins are the most since the 1987-88 squad went 23-6.
The Pack went 16-1 in home games this season, their one loss coming when Miami fifth-year senior center Reggie Johnson made a game-winning tap-in with less than a second to go. Had Johnson not gotten that rebound, NC State could have matched the inaugural season for most wins in the PNC Arena. The Pack went 17-3 in 1999-2000. That season though included three home wins in the NIT.
Other stats of note
- NC State outscored Wake in the paint 46-40.
- The Pack won the turnover margin 15-14 and had a 22-17 edge in points off turnovers.
- NC State was more effective in transition, outscoring the Deacons 21-18 in fast break points.
- State outrebounded Wake 39-30 overall and 16-10 on the offensive glass, which led to a dominating 22-5 advantage in second-chance points.
- NC State's bench outscored Wake Forest's reserves 19-18.