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Pack beats Wake

By David Shaw

Salisbury Post

WINSTON-SALEM — From courtside to the far reaches of the upper level, N.C. State made Wake Forest look bad Saturday at Joel Coliseum.

The Wolfpack placed five scorers in double figures, shot 61 percent from the field — it was 68.2 in the second half — and thumped the Demon Deacons 88-74 for its first ACC victory.

“I know this is just one ballgame,” State coach Sidney Lowe said after notching his first conference triumph, “but you’ve got to be proud of yourself when you go on the road and win in the ACC.”

This one helped the Pack (11-6, 1-3) restore some of the luster provided by its 5-0 start this season.

“If you’re going to win in this league, that’s the way to do it,” forward Gavin Grant said. “Win by 16. Make a statement. Tell everyone, ‘We’ve had enough.’ ”

Wake Forest (9-7, 1-3) shot 54 percent from the field and outrebounded State 29-24 but never seemed to challenge after falling behind 50-32 at halftime. The finished product included 22 turnovers and only 34 points from the Deacs’ starters.

“We just aren’t playing well,” Wake coach Skip Prosser said. “We aren’t giving ourselves a chance.”

And this was a good one — a home game against the league’s pre-season No. 12 pick.

“It would have been good,” sophomore Kevin Swinton beefed after pacing the Deacs with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds. “We just didn’t play defense the way you’re supposed to play it. You’ve got to lock up and you’ve got to lock down. You can’t just let them drive. Coach always tells us to go kick their butts, because if we don’t, they’re going to kick ours.”

The kicking began after Wake’s L.D. Williams hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to tie the score at 20-20 with 9:13 remaining in the opening half. Grant — who converted 9 of 14 field-goal attempts and scored a game-high 24 points — launched a 9-0 run when he snaked along the baseline for a layup. Moments later Courtney Fells (20 points) buried a 3-ball, and the floodgates were open. State finished 9-for-20 from beyond the arc, including a pair by 6-foot-8 freshman Brandon Costner.

The Pack, meanwhile, played shutdown defense against Wake big man Kyle Visser — the ACC’s third-leading scorer and No. 2 rebounder. He was checked on 11 points and two rebounds in 25 foul-plagued minutes.

“He’s a load in there,” Lowe said after State’s 1-3-1 zone neutralized the 6-11 Visser. “He seals you off, so we tried to work him a little bit. Our guards stayed very active, trying it make it tough to get it in to him, trying to wear him down.”

On this afternoon, it worked perfectly. State maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half and was up by as much as 70-48 when Costner drove for a left-handed dunk with 10:36 to play.

“It’s important to get this win,” Lowe said afterward. “But it’s more important to understand what we did to get it — and to keep doing those things.”

*

NOTES: Wake was 12-for-23 from the foul line and has converted only 61 percent of its free throws over the last three games. … State forwards Ben McCauley (5-for-7 from the field) and Dennis Horner (4-for-5) combined for 25 points. Teammate Engin Atsur was sidelined with a nagging hamstring injury. He’s missed 10 of the Pack’s last 11 games.

Wake returns to action Thursday night at Duke. State will play host to the Blue Devils next Saturday.

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