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Freshman Warren ignites N.C. State to win over Clemson

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Freshman T.J. Warren was back in the groove and that was critical for North Carolina State returning to its winning ways.

Warren scored 21 points to help North Carolina State defeat visiting Clemson 66-62 in Atlantic Coast Conference basketball Sunday night at PNC Arena.

"Just (want) to be a spark off the bench," said Warren, a reserve forward. "They knew I could do it. We want to keep winning."

No. 14 N.C. State, coming off a one-point loss at Maryland, received another 11 points from freshman Rodney Purvis, who drained three first-half 3-pointers. The N.C. State veterans eventually caught on, with Richard Howell and Scott Wood racking up 11 points each as well.

Clemson had a chance to tie the game with 10 seconds to play, but a backcourt turnover thwarted that opportunity.

The Tigers (10-7, 2-3) were denied their first three-game winning streak of the season despite a 27-point outburst from Devin Booker. Clemson, which never led in the game, had turnovers on its last two possessions.

"It was certainly a hard-fought game," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "We got behind early, but I thought we played well those final 30 minutes."

N.C. State (15-3, 4-1) hasn't lost back-to-back games this season.

Warren, who was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting from the field in Wednesday night's setback at Maryland, said he put in extra time in the gym the past few days. He leads the ACC in field-goal percentage at above 65 percent, aided by the 9-for-11 accuracy against Clemson in coming within a point of his season high.

"I wanted to bounce back," he said.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said: "Part of being a freshman is that you go through some ups and downs. (This game) was like a lot of his nights. He has been really efficient."

Warren scored off a rebound to nudge N.C. State's lead to 54-51 with slightly more than four minutes left. But Rod Hall's three-point play tied the game with 3:37 to go.

Howell scored the next three points, but Clemson's Milton Jennings bagged a 3-pointer to make it 57-57.

Then Howell converted a three-play play at the 1:56 mark, and the Wolfpack never relinquished the lead.

Wood made 5-of-6 free throws in the last 28 seconds to help seal the victory. Still, the Wolfpack had awkward feelings afterward.

"I feel like we got away with one," Wood said. "The main thing for us was getting those stops at the end."

Booker, a senior forward, made 13 of 18 shots from the field. He had eclipsed his previous career best of 22 points with more than 14 minutes remaining. This was his first game reaching the 20-point mark this season.

"He's got some different things," Brownell said, noting Booker's jumper and offensive rebounding. "He did some of everything. I'm proud of how he played."

Hall finished with 16 points.

The Tigers were within 46-43 with 11 minutes left before Wood canned a 3-pointer off an in-bounds play. Two dunks by Booker allowed Clemson to close to 49-47.

N.C. State received a first-half boost from Warren's 14 points in claiming a 34-26 halftime advantage. He had scored a total of 21 points in four previous ACC games.

N.C. State quickly broke out of the offensive doldrums from four nights earlier, grabbing a 7-0 lead in barely more than two minutes and causing Clemson to call timeout.

But despite scoring the game's first 10 points, N.C. State's lead was only 15-12 with less than nine minutes to play in the half.

Booker scored 16 of Clemson's first 20 points, and he had 18 points at the half on 9-for-12 shooting.

The rest of the Tigers combined to shoot 3-for-24 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

NOTES: N.C. State wore black uniforms at home. Clemson was in more traditional orange road jerseys. ... Gottfried turned 49 years old Sunday. He's 4-2 all-time as a head coach on his birthday. ... N.C. State led the country in field-goal percentage for a few weeks, but the Wolfpack entered the weekend having dropped to third on the list at 51.5 percent, entering Sunday's action. ... Clemson held its past two opponents (Virginia and Wake Forest) to 44 points apiece, marking the first time in school history that it limited consecutive foes in ACC games to less than 45 points. ... N.C. State senior Howell and junior guard Lorenzo Brown both entered the game needing 16 points to reach 1,000 for their careers. ... N.C. State reserve center Jordan Vandenberg, who didn't play in victories against Georgia Tech and Duke, played in the next two games.
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