Quick hits and notes from NC State's 68-54 upset win over No. 23 Wake Forest in front of 15,324 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Saturday afternoon.
Play of the game
NC State had certainly been in position to win several games this year but failed to make the necessary winning plays that sustain a victory. That was not the case against Wake Forest. One such winning play came with 6:51 left in the game. NC State led 46-40, but both teams had stalled out offensively. Neither team had scored for over two minutes when junior point guard Javier Gonzalez found classmate Tracy Smith, a power forward, for a nice alley-oop lay-up. That play would spark a 7-1 Wolfpack run that gave State an insurmountable 54-41 lead with five minutes left.
Player of the game
NC State had five players in double figures for the first time since their win over Duke Jan. 20, ironically their last ACC win. None were more surprising however than sophomore wing C.J. Williams. Two weeks ago Williams had a surprising "did not play line" in the box score due to coach's decision against Georgia Tech. He had been averaging a paltry 1.6 points per game in ACC play.
Williams though took on a much more active role against Wake Forest. It started in pregame introductions when Williams took redshirt sophomore forward Johnny Thomas' place at the end of the line to greet the starters after they were introduced. Williams was also vocal in the pregame huddle, and he backed it up on the court. He made 4 of 8 shots, 2 of 3 three-pointers, for 10 points. That was the first time Williams was in double figures scoring since he had 12 at Arizona Dec. 23. Williams added three rebounds, two blocks and an assist in 24 minutes. That was his most playing time since his last start when he logged 25 minutes against Virginia Jan. 9.
Other Wolfpack standouts
Senior forward Dennis Horner had not had a double-digit rebounding game in his career until Feb. 10 against Virginia Tech, when he also had his first career double-double. Horner has now recorded double-doubles in three of his past four games. Horner had 10 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals against Wake Forest.
The starting backcourt of Gonzalez and fifth-year senior Farnold Degand had their best effort in over a month. Gonzalez had 11 points and six assists with just two turnovers and a season-high four steals in 29 minutes. Degand added 13 points, the first time he has reached double figures in scoring since the aforementioned Duke contest.
Smith led the way for NC State in scoring with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting against the much taller Wake Forest lineup.
Wake Forest's success this year has been partly attributed to freshmen C.J. Harris, a guard, and Ari Stewart, a wing, easing the perimeter load on star senior point guard Ishmael Smith. That has not been the case lately, especially Saturday.
Harris was 0 for 9 from the field, 0 of 4 from long range, and scoreless. Since Jan. 23, Harris has shot 13 of 53, or 24.5 percent, and 6 of 30, 20 percent, on three-pointers. Stewart went 1 for 6 from the field, missed all four three-point attempts, and had just two points off the bench in 18 minutes. Stewart went 2 for 16 from the field in losses at Virginia Tech and at NC State last week for Wake Forest.
For the first time since Feb. 3, 1992, Wake Forest did not make a single three-pointer in a game. The Deacs went 0 for 12. The last Wolfpack opponent to fail to make a long range shot was Maryland in Jan. 27, 1990, a streak of 633 games. Ironically NC State had its own consecutive games with a three-point shot snapped this year when the Pack shot 0-11 against Virginia Tech Feb. 10. State had gone 654 straight games with a three-pointer, dating back to March 4, 1989, before that night against the Hokies.
The Demon Deacons committed 23 turnovers against NC State, their second highest total of the year and the most the Wolfpack have forced in a game this season. Wake shot just 34.8 percent for the game, making 23 of 66 shots.
Spotted at the game
NC State introduced chancellor-elect Randy Woodson during the first half to a standing ovation from the crowd. Also honored in the first half was the men's tennis team and former Wolfpack player Lou Pucillo.
At halftime, former players Rodney Monroe and Todd Fuller were honored, and in the second half State honored the late Jim Valvano by bringing his brother Nick Valvano out onto the court.
Also at the game behind NC State's bench was Word of God Academy in Raleigh head coach Erasto Hatchett.
What the win means
NC State's seven-game ACC losing streak is over as the Pack improved to 15-13 overall and 3-10 in the league. The Pack avoided joining Boston College as the only teams in the conference at .500 overall. NC State is a half-game behind Miami and UNC for 10th place in the league.
Wake Forest falls to 18-7 overall and 8-5 in the ACC. They are a half-game ahead of Florida State and Clemson for fourth-place in the league and a half-game behind Virginia Tech for third.
The Deacs' recent struggles at the RBC Center continues. NC State has won five straight at its home venue against Wake and is now 7-4 all-time at the RBC Center against Wake Forest.
NC State is 5-3 against the Deacs under head coach Sidney Lowe, and the Pack leads the all-time series 132-99. The Pack and Wake Forest split the regular season series this year.
Other stats of note
- Wake Forest outrebounded NC State 50-31. That's the most rebounds NC State has allowed this year. Ironically the previous high had been the Deacs' 48 rebounds in the two teams' previous contest. That was the worst rebounding margin of the season for State.
- The Deacs had a 27-11 edge in offensive rebounding, which resulted in a lopsided 19-8 advantage in second-chance points.
- NC State had 15 turnovers and a 18-7 edge in points off turnovers.
- The Deacs' had an 8-6 edge in fast break points.
- Wake Forest dominated in points in the paint 36-22.
- NC State's reserves outscored Wake Forest 16-8.