WINSTON-SALEM — With seven minutes left in a game that was already over, not long after back-to-back steals and dunks by Lorenzo Brown and with an and-one thrown in there as well, the N.C. State fans at Lawrence Joel Coliseum rose to their feet and started chanting "Wolf ... Pack."
The Wake Forest fans, like their team on the floor, could offer no rebuttal. N.C. State led by 38 then, Brown toying with the Wake Forest guards and the Deacons' best player already ejected for a flagrant, if unintentional, elbow.
"It was really fun," Brown said. "The guy just kind of let me dunk it. I thought he was going to try and stop me. He just didn't want to, I guess."
Statements were made Saturday. Coming off a dismal home loss to Georgia Tech, N.C. State not only corrected its defensive deficiencies but found a new level, holding the Deacons to 2-for-20 shooting from 3-point range. Travis McKie and C.J. Harris came into the game averaging a combined 36 points; they scored 12.
Even with C.J. Leslie held out of the starting lineup as a disciplinary measure and a nonfactor after that, N.C. State dominated from start to finish in a 76-40 win, and it wasn't nearly that close as Wake Forest offered no resistance whatsoever, McKie's elbow notwithstanding.
How far the Deacons have fallen from the days when the motorcycle and the tie-dye seemed like organic products of the atmosphere, not ridiculous contrivances to pump life (and exhaust fumes) into a lifeless building. It took Wake Forest 36 minutes to score as many points as N.C. State did in the first half.
The win-loss record may be better in Jeff Bzdelik's second year, but Saturday's performance was as bad as anything Wake Forest perpetrated upon its fans last season.
Motivated by the Georgia Tech experience, the Wolfpack came out with a distinct, physical edge. Wake Forest's players wanted no part of it. N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried complimented his team for its defense on Wake Forest's ball screens - if you call a player standing sort of vaguely in the way a screen.
"They hit and bumped us," Bzdelik said. "Teams are going to do that. This is a league for men only."
The problem may be more basic than that. Several times, with Wake Forest on offense, N.C. State's assistant coaches leapt from the bench to call out where the ball was going long before it got there.
N.C. State didn't watch a second of the Georgia Tech loss, Brown said. Wake Forest wasn't so lucky. Bzdelik announced his intention to keep the team at the arena Saturday to go back and re-watch the State game.
"So we went from the 40 points we scored in the second half of the Maryland game, shooting 56 percent from the floor, to this," Bzdelik said. "How did that happen?"
(Bzdelik offered up a few answers of his own, but he may also want to check with the N.C. State bench, which seems to have a pretty good grasp of his offense.)
Its home win over Virginia Tech apparently an aberration, Wake Forest offered no evidence that the Deacons belong anywhere but the giant muddle at the bottom of the ACC standings.
After sliding that direction in the loss to Georgia Tech, the Wolfpack took a step back toward daylight Saturday, occupying a one-time rival's building in a show of complete domination - and having fun doing it.