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February 11, 2013

Quick hits from NC State's win over Clemson



Quick hits and notes from NC State's buzzer-beating 58-57 win at Clemson in front of 9,455 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson Sunday afternoon.

Play of the game

It started when head coach Mark Gottfried wisely called timeout with 7.5 seconds left while junior forward C.J. Leslie was racing down court after Clemson senior forward Milton Jennings missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 12.3 seconds remaining.

Clemson led at that point 57-55, and Jennings missed an opportunity to potentially put the game away. That came back to haunt the Tigers when a well-designed out of timeout play resulted in senior wing Scott Wood nailing an open three from near the right corner with exactly 1.0 second left to give NCSU a crucial ACC road win.

Junior guard Lorenzo Brown caught the inbounds pass in the backcourt, drove to his right. Wood ran the baseline and instead of coming around off a potential Leslie screen instead reversed course and took advantage of the brick wall-like screen set by senior center Richard Howell. That freed up Wood for an open look, and Brown alertly dished the pass out to him for the huge shot.

Highlight of the game

There were a few dunks of note in the contest and Clemson sophomore wing K.J. McDaniels had some impressive blocked shots, but Wood's shot was the ultimate highlight of the day.

Player of the game

Brown returned to the lineup Saturday after missing most of the last three games with an ankle injury, and it's safe to say that without Brown there is a good chance NC State does not win at Clemson.

Brown came off the bench and played 32 minutes despite being less than 100 percent. He only shot 6 of 15 from the field, but he had 15 points, four assists, four rebounds and just one turnover. He also sunk a pair of crucial free throws with 14 seconds left to cut the Tigers' lead to 58-57.

With a week off before Saturday's tilt with Virginia Tech in Raleigh, that should give Brown the necessary time to get fully healthy for the crucial stretch run.

Wood for three

Wood started his 125th career game Saturday, tying the legendary Julius Hodge for the most career starts in a Wolfpack uniform. Wood finished the game going 3 of 9 from three-point territory, and NCSU improved to 37-14 all-time when Wood makes at least three treys in a game.

Wood has now made 293 three-pointers in his career, which puts him 29 behind Rodney Monroe for the most ever at NC State. With seven regular season games left and at least one more in the ACC Tournament, if the Pack only played those eight contests, Wood would need to average 3.7 made threes a game to break Monroe's record. Wood is averaging 2.6 threes a game thus far this year.

A sign of the new rotation?

Lewis has now started the last two games. In Brown's two-game absence, Lewis had totaled 29 points, nine assists and just one turnover in that span while averaging 37.5 minutes a contest. Lewis got his second straight start Sunday since Brown came off the bench.

What was interesting however is that when Brown entered the game, it was not for Lewis but rather freshman guard Rodney Purvis. Lewis logged 27 minutes and played frequently with Brown in the same backcourt, reminiscent of the role played last year by valuable reserve guard Alex Johnson.

Lewis made 2 of 5 shots, including 2 of 3 three-pointers, for six points. He did not record an assist and had a turnover, but he actually played more minutes than Purvis.

Freshmen struggles on the road

Speaking of Purvis, once again he and his classmate, reserve forward T.J. Warren, had another difficult game on the road. Of the seven players that got onto the court for NC State, Purvis and Warren were the only two that went scoreless.

Purvis missed all three of his shot attempts in 20 minutes and also missed both of his free throws. It was the first time this season Purvis had been held scoreless in a game. The playing time total was also his lowest of the year.

On the road in ACC play, Purvis has been spotty. He scored 19 points in a win at Boston College Jan. 5 and had 18 in the loss at Wake Forest Jan. 22, but at Maryland, Virginia, Duke and Clemson he was a combined 6-of-25 shooting and averaged 4.0 points.

Warren also played a season-low with just 13 minutes. He missed his one shot attempt and finished with one rebound. Like Purvis, it continued a trend of spotty play on the road in league action. Warren played solidly at Boston College (11 points), Wake (14 points) and last Thursday at Duke (12 points). But at Maryland, Virginia and Clemson, he went a combined 1-14 from the field and averaged 1.0 point.

What the win means

NC State snapped its three-game losing streak and improved to 17-7 overall and got back above .500 in the ACC at 6-5.

That's important because it put the Pack in sole place for fifth in the ACC, just one-half game behind UNC, who is 6-4. The Heels though will likely be heavy underdogs at Duke Wednesday evening. A loss there would drop UNC into a fourth place tie with NC State, and the Pack currently have the tiebreaker on the Heels for what would be a first-round ACC Tournament bye.

Clemson fell to 12-11 overall and 4-7 in the league. The Tigers are in a tie with Wake Forest for eighth place. Clemson beat Wake Forest at home earlier this year so they have the tiebreaker over the Deacs, but that's relatively inconsequential if the ACC Tournament was held today since the two teams would play each other in the first round.

The Pack swept the season series with Clemson for the first time since 2003 and improved to 99-48 all-time against the Tigers. State is 32-30 all-time at Clemson but just 17-24 in Littlejohn. NC State snapped a four-game losing streak at the venue and won for the first time there since 2006.

This was State's first win in February this year.

Other stats of note

- Despite getting double-doubles from Howell and Leslie, the 14th of the year for Howell and seventh for Leslie, Clemson outrebounded NC State 41-36 overall and 12-11 on the offensive glass. State though held a 12-8 edge in second-chance points.

- NC State outscored Clemson in the paint 34-26.

- NC State won the turnover margin 17-12, but Clemson had a 13-9 advantage in points off turnovers.

- The Pack was held to just four fast break points, but that still doubled Clemson's transition total.

- Both teams got 15 points from their respective benches.



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