WINSTON-SALEM — N.C. State men's basketball coach Mark Gottfried challenged his team to play better defense than it did during a midweek loss to Georgia Tech.
The Wolfpack responded by holding two of the ACC's top scorers in check in a 76-40 blowout of Wake Forest on Saturday at Joel Coliseum.
Travis McKie, Wake Forest's top scorer, finished with more turnovers (four) than points (two), and as many technical fouls as field goals (one). Guard C.J. Harris finished with 10 points, but he needed 12 shots to get there, and the Deacons went 2-of-20 from 3-point range.
"Our guys responded," Gottfried said. "Where we have been weak has been containing really good scorers on the perimeter. Today, we did a much better job with that."
With 20 points and six assists, Lorenzo Brown led N.C. State (13-5, 2-1) to its first ACC road win of the season and the Pack's fourth straight win against the Deacs. The past three wins in the series each have been by at least 20 points. State hasn't done that against an ACC opponent since it beat Clemson four straight from 1954 to 1955.
It was vastly different defensive effort than State showed in an 82-71 home loss to Georgia Tech - one of the lowest-scoring teams in the ACC - on Wednesday.
"We were very disappointed about the Georgia Tech game," Brown said. "We played great defense today, we have to continue to do that."
Wake Forest (10-7, 1-2) was left searching for answers after a season-low scoring total with 17 turnovers to just seven assists. McKie (18.0 points per game), Harris (17.7) and point guard Tony Chennault (11.1) had been averaging almost 47 points between them but combined for 15 Saturday.
A season after going 1-15 in the ACC, the Deacs had split their first two ACC games - a home win against Virginia Tech and a loss at Maryland - and seemed to have turned a corner in coach Jeff Bzdelik's second season.
But Bzdelik had no explanation for the lack of execution on offense.
"I don't know why we did what we did offensively," he said. "I don't know what to say. Ask them."
State had no problems finding offense, even with leading scorer C.J. Leslie being shut out in 17 minutes. Leslie didn't start the game because of a discipline issue stemming from practice, then he tweaked his left ankle in the second half.
Senior C.J. Williams, the primary target of Gottfried's pregame defensive challenge, scored 15 points and forward Rich Howell finished with a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds).
Williams was assigned to McKie for much of the game, and Scott Wood (12 points) did the majority of the work on Harris. McKie was silent in the first half, as State jumped to leads of 11-4 and 19-10 at each of the first two TV timeouts.
McKie had two points by the end of the half and Wake Forest trailed 33-17.
Coach "told me that I have to be a lockdown defender for this team," Williams said. "That's what I want to be able to do."
McKie had just four shot attempts as State's lead ballooned to 52-23 at the 12-minute, 40-second mark of the second half. Sixty-three seconds later, McKie got ejected from throwing an elbow in a scrum for a rebound.
He was spared the final 10 minutes of the rout. The rest of the Wake Forest roster wasn't as lucky.