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NC State 66, Clemson 61: Wolfpack prevails on the road behind a strong defensive effort

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Box Score

Four Factors NC State
eFG% 46.7 33.6
Turnover Rate 24.8
Off Reb Rate 39.4 38.8
FT Rate 69.6 28.4

61 65 93.8 101.5
NC State
66 65 101.5 93.8

NC State didn't bring its A-game to Clemson, but the Wolfpack were good enough on Tuesday night to win a critical road game over the Tigers, 66-61. Ralston Turner scored a game-high 23 points, while Cat Barber added 16 to help the Pack overcome a tough night from Trevor Lacey.

The first half was ugly at both ends, with neither team finding any sort of rhythm offensively. State settled for a lot of jump shots and missed its first nine attempts inside the three-point line. Clemson was hardly better, but used its edge in turnover margin to eek out a one-point halftime lead. Then the game got very strange.

Clemson endured a drought of preposterous length, scoring a mere three points between the 16:51 mark and 3:26 mark of the second half. At 16:51, the Tigers had a 30-24 lead. Thirteen minutes later, they were down 49-33.

At that point, Brad Brownell made the decision to insert little-used freshman Gabe DeVoe, who came into the evening with a total of 12 points on the season. DeVoe ended Clemson's long field goal drought with a three-pointer with 3:26 to go and acted the part of cheat code the rest of the way. Clemson scored 28 points in the final 3:26 of the game--DeVoe accounted for 18.

NC State stopped doing the things that had helped it build its large lead as Clemson's full-court pressure began to create more mistakes. The Wolfpack's defensive rebounding began to disappear, and State committed some incredibly foolish fouls to help the Tigers rally without costing them any time.

Fortunately, the Pack had a 16-point lead at the start of Clemson's onslaught, and there just wasn't enough time for the Tigers to climb all the way back. NC State hit 12 of 14 free throw attempts in the last two minutes and picked up just enough stops in the last few minutes to prevent this one from becoming truly frightening.

It took forever to burn those last three minutes, but they escaped. For 34 minutes and change the Wolfpack played some really solid defense, as the Tigers were clearly frustrated by the presence of BeeJay Anya, who did an excellent job of thwarting their scoring attempts in the paint.

The score doesn't reflect the overall performance, but sometimes a Gabe DeVoe steps out of nowhere and hits more field goals in three-and-a-half minutes than he'd made all season. (DeVoe, who finished 6-10 from the field, came in with four made shots on 28 attempts.)

But the important thing is NC State got out of that building with the victory. And we can all breathe again. The win improves State's record to 18-12 overall and 9-8 in ACC play.