North Carolina State 73, Wake Forest 66
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—Brandon Costner scored 19 points and North Carolina State used a hot start to beat Wake Forest 73-66 on Wednesday night and escape the Atlantic Coast Conference cellar.
Ben McCauley had 17 points for the Wolfpack (15-13, 5-10), who set the tone with an early 17-4 run and remained in control for most of the way to snap a two-game losing streak.
Gavin Grant added 13 points for N.C State, which shot 51 percent in sweeping Wake Forest for the first time since 2004.
Kyle Visser, who entered with a team-best 17.3 scoring average, played with the flu and finished with just six points after sitting out the second half with what he said was a hip pointer for Wake Forest (13-15, 4-11), which remained tied with Miami for last place in the league.
Ishmael Smith scored 14 points and Michael Drum added 13 to lead the Demon Deacons, who only briefly led in the game’s opening seconds and went on to their second straight loss.
Wake Forest made things interesting midway through the second half, pulling to 46-40 on Drum’s steal and layup with 10:15 to play.
Courtney Fells then hit a wide-open 3 from the key, unheralded senior Justin Clark added a layup, Costner hit two free throws and Fells added an electrifying dunk with 7 1/2 minutes left to give the Wolfpack some breathing room. The Demon Deacons didn’t get any closer until the closing seconds, when Harvey Hale’s second 3-pointer made it 71-66.
Jamie Skeen had 11 points and 14 rebounds, and Anthony Gurley had 10 points for Wake Forest.
N.C. State dominated almost from the tip, and got virtually any shot it wanted during a particularly overwhelming 9-minute stretch. The Wolfpack made 11 of 13 shots, many of them uncontested, by the midpoint of the first half and raced out to a 24-13 lead.
It was a scene reminiscent of the teams’ earlier meeting Jan. 13, when N.C. State shot nearly 54 percent and routed the Demon Deacons 88-74 in coach Sidney Lowe’s first ACC victory, and the Wolfpack’s previous home game two weeks earlier when they made nearly 67 percent of their attempts in an 81-56 rout of Virginia Tech.
Clark, who entered having played four minutes all season, started as part of Senior Night festivities and hit all three of his shots.