RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Lorenzo Brown and No. 20 North Carolina State got hot just in time to keep rolling into the biggest game of the season.
Brown had 21 points and 10 assists, and helped the Wolfpack pull away late to beat Georgia Tech 83-70 on Wednesday night for their ninth straight win.
``I told him from the start that it looked like he was kind of having his way, and getting the things that he wanted,' teammate Scott Wood said. ``He just did a good job of being aggressive and taking advantage.'
Wood added 20 points and C.J. Leslie had 19 in his 11th straight game in double figures for the Wolfpack (13-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The nation's most accurate shooting team shot 50.9 percent and needed a late surge to avoid entering its most heavily hyped game so far - a visit Saturday from top-ranked Duke - after a loss.
``I never heard (the Duke game) mentioned inside our practice facility, and when you've got four starters that return and have been through this league, I think they're seasoned enough to know you've got to play every night,' coach Mark Gottfried said. ``You can't look past anybody in this conference.'
Daniel Miller had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets (10-4, 0-2) controlled the tempo for the first 30 minutes and led 51-47 with 10 minutes to play but managed just three field goals in the final 7 1/2 minutes and lost their second straight.
``We worked the ball more than they will,' said Daniel Miller, who led Georgia Tech with 15 points and 10 rebounds. ``They'll take a shot as soon as they think they're open. That limited them a little bit from getting those fast-break opportunities. I thought we did a good job for the most part.'
Despite the final score, this one was tight for most of the way, with 11 ties and 14 lead changes. With Georgia Tech patiently in charge of the pace, neither team could assemble anything resembling a run and neither team led by more than four in the half until N.C. State got things rolling midway through.
``Down the stretch . we executed our offense really well. We got the shots we wanted, the ball went where we needed it to go and we stepped up and made some shots, too,' Gottfried said.
Wood hit two of his four 3-pointers during the burst - N.C. State improved to 14-0 under Gottfried when he hits at least four 3s - and his free throw made it 72-60 with 3:14 left.
``Any time you can close out games,' Wood said, ``that makes you that much more dangerous.'
In between Wood's 3s, Leslie came up with the highlight-reel play of the night when he blocked Carter's 3 at the key, then beat the Yellow Jackets downcourt and hit a layup that had PNC Arena hopping.
Brown set a career scoring high for ACC games, surpassing the 20 he scored against both North Carolina and Wake Forest last year, and had his fourth game this season with double figures in assists.
``The best thing he does is in transition - he can really make plays in transition,' Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. ``He made some risky plays, too, but he's just got a flair in the open court to be able to kind of dissect a defense. . I said last year as a sophomore that he was one of the premier point guards in the country, and there's no doubt about it. He's proving it night in and night out here.'
Rodney Purvis finished with 13 points and Richard Howell had 12 rebounds for the Wolfpack, who entered making a Division I-best 53.1 percent of their shots. They made 12 of their last 15 attempts in this one, matched their longest winning streak since 2004-05 and picked up their 10th straight victory at home.
Mfon Udofia scored 13 points and Robert Carter Jr. added 12 points for Georgia Tech - which was playing its first game outside Atlanta since November. The Yellow Jackets fell to 0-2 in true road games and remained one victory shy of matching last season's win total.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved