WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Freshman Devin Thomas scored a career-high 25 points and Travis McKie added 16 as Wake Forest upset 18th-ranked North Carolina State 86-84 Tuesday night at Joel Coliseum.
The Demon Deacons battled all the way back from a 16-point, first-half deficit to pull off one of the biggest wins in coach Jeff Bzdelik's three seasons.
The Deacons trailed by 12 at halftime but turned up their defensive pressure, took away the Wolfpack's outside game and did enough to improve to 10-8 overall, 3-3 in the ACC.
Wake Forest senior C.J. Harris, who went out with a head injury for a crucial four-minute stretch, returned and hit one of two free throws with 22.2 seconds left to make it an 84-82 game.
McKie sank two free throws with 3.4 seconds left for the Deacons to secure it.
Before McKie was fouled, N.C. State's Rodney Purvis had an open look on a 15-footer but missed, and C.J. Leslie had a chance at tip-in but couldn't convert.
Point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre added 15 points, and Harris scored 10 for the Deacons.
Purvis led the Wolfpack (15-4, 4-2) with 18 points. T.J. Warren added 14 points, with Richard Howell, Leslie and Lorenzo Brown each scoring 13.
In the first half, the Wolfpack enjoyed as much as a 16-point lead. The Deacons cut the lead to 41-31 late in the half, but a 9-1 run fueled by Warren and Purvis gave the Wolfpack a 47-31 lead with 1:07 to go in the half.
Warren scored off a pass from Brown after a missed shot by the Deacons' Tyler Cavanaugh, one of seven fastbreak baskets for the Wolfpack in the first half.
Midway through the first half, the Wolfpack took a 29-14 lead after Warren scored on a layup off a pass from Brown, who had seven assists in the first half.
Despite foul trouble for three of the Wolfpack starters -- Scott Wood, Warren and C.J. Leslie -- N.C. State didn't miss much. The Wolfpack shot a robust 56 percent in the first half and outrebounded the Deacons 25-18.
Both teams wound up hitting around 49 percent of their shots for the night.
The Wolfpack led 47-35 at halftime.
NOTES: Wake Forest hadn't had much luck against N.C. State. Before Tuesday night's game, the Wolfpack had won five straight in the series, including the past two wins at Joel Coliseum by an average of 30.5 points.... The Wolfpack played its second game in three days for the third time this season. N.C. State was coming off a 66-62 win over Clemson at home on Sunday.... There are three players in the ACC with 100 or more career starts, including Wake Forest's Harris and N.C. State's Wood. Harris made his 101st career start, and Wood made his 120th career start.... N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried has a keen interest in the Super Bowl thanks to a family connection. He is a second cousin of Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers and John Harbaugh of the Ravens.