Raleigh, NC - Wake Forest (12-17, 5-12 ACC) claimed an early 12-5 lead, creating the false hope of sweeping NC State (22-8, 11-6 ACC) this season as the Wolfpack finished the first half on a crushing 34-12 run on its way to an 81-66 win.
"Defense and defensive rebounding, turnovers, it's why we simply lost the game," Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "You can't allow like in the first half 11 points off offensive boards and 11 points off turnovers."
"That's 22 points, and you can't give up easy baskets like that and have a chance to win a basketball game. They doubled that same thing in the second half as 44 points off of offensive rebounding and bad turnovers."
C.J. Harris, who drew a foul from Richard Howell, sank a free-throw to put Wake up 16-15 as the NC State big man went to the bench with two fouls to sit for the final 9:48 of the first half. The Demon Deacons failed to take advantage of Howell's absence, as the Wolfpack outscored Wake 19-8 without its senior forward.
"We had a slow start and they had a quick start offensively, but once we got our feet and hands moving, we picked up our defensive pressure a little more," NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said. "For the last 16 minutes of the first half we really defended well."
"It's a good win for us and something we can build on, but we just need to keep improving on some things, whether it's our defensive pressure, our rebounding or our offense. We just have to keep working."
C.J. Leslie, who finished with a double-double, gave NC State the lift it needed, scoring 11 of his game-high 19 points and pulling down six of his 10 rebounds in the first half.
"He used his quickness four or five times to get to the rim," Gottfried said. "When he has some space he's a hard guy to contain one-on-one. I thought he had a matchup we could take advantage of."
Focus or the lack thereof appeared to be a problem at the beginning of the second half when Wake Forest turned it over on its first possession, resulting in a C.J. Leslie dunk.
The Deacs scored 11-12 of their possessions midway through the second half, but Wake failed to trim its deficit below 16 during that stint.
Devin Thomas scored 11 of his team-leading 13 points and grabbed three of his game-high 11 rebounds on his way to his third double-double of the season.
Raleigh product Madison Jones, who started in place of Codi Miller-McIntyre (out with strep throat), performed admirably. Jones finished with 10 points, six assists and two steals to four turnovers in his first trip home.
The loss puts Wake at 2-12 in games away from Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.