RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Freshman C.J. Leslie had 18 points and 10 rebounds to help North Carolina State beat Clemson 69-61 on Thursday night.
Tracy Smith added 14 points for the Wolfpack (14-11, 4-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who pushed ahead for good with a 9-0 second-half run. The win allowed N.C. State to gain some measure of revenge for last month's loss to the Tigers in which the Wolfpack blew a 19-point first-half lead.
Javi Gonzalez added 11 points off the bench for N.C. State, which made 11 of 14 free throws in the final 4 1/2 minutes to stay in control.
Demontez Stitt scored 16 points to lead the Tigers (17-9, 6-6), who are fighting to position themselves for an NCAA tournament bid. Losing this one won't help on that front considering N.C. State had lost seven of nine coming in.
In the first meeting, N.C. State ran out to a 31-12 lead with about 6 minutes to go until halftime before the Tigers rallied. Clemson closed to within five by the break, then held N.C. State to 6-for-24 shooting (25 percent) after the break while using a 16-0 run to go ahead to stay in the 60-50 victory.
It was the Tigers' biggest comeback in an ACC home game, and was tied for third in school history.
The Wolfpack never got that kind of big lead Thursday night. In fact, N.C. State trailed most of the first half and 53-52 with about 8 minutes left before finally pushing ahead.
And this time, it held onto that margin.
Junior reserve C.J. Williams - who hadn't scored to that point - put the Wolfpack ahead for good with a jumper from the left corner with 6:53 left. Then Ryan Harrow came up with his only basket, grabbing a loose rebound off a missed shot from Lorenzo Brown and sticking it back in to make it 56-53.
Williams followed that with another huge basket by tipping in a miss from Smith, who followed that with two free throws that made it 60-53 with 4:28 left.
The Tigers got no closer than five points down the stretch.
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