RALEIGH — There was a danger of N.C. State looking past Georgia Tech on Wednesday night to Saturday's matchup with No. 1 Duke.
Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood would not let that happen. With 21 points from Brown and 20 from Wood, the Wolfpack handled the pesky Yellow Jackets, 83-70 to set up Saturday's big game with the Blue Devils.
N.C. State (13-2, 2-0 ACC) won its ninth straight game and improved to 2-0 in the ACC for the first time in nine years with a balanced effort from its veterans.
Brown added 10 assists to go with 19 points from junior C.J. Leslie and 12 rebounds from senior Richard Howell.
Apparently, the four-letter word that starts with "D" wasn't even mentioned before Wednesday's ACC home opener.
"We never do that," Brown said in reference to talking about the next game. "We wait until the game is over and then we talk about it."
Then asked about the Devils, Brown said: "I can't wait until Saturday, 12 o'clock."
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said he didn't talk about Duke and he didn't hear any of his players mention the top-ranked Devils before Wednesday's tilt with Georgia Tech.
"When you've got four starters that return and been through this league, I think they're seasoned enough to know that you've got to play every night," Gottfried said. "You can't look past anybody in this conference."
Georgia Tech (10-4, 0-2) made N.C. State earn its 13-point win. The game was tied at 55 with 7:58 left before a 13-5 burst gave the Pack control.
Wood made a pair of 3-pointers to start and end the run and freshman guard Rodney Purvis made a critical 3 in between, to give State a 68-60 lead and control of the game.
With 3:58 left, Wood's fourth 3-pointer, a barometer of success in the Mark Gottfried era, gave the Pack the breathing room it needed. In the past two seasons, State's 14-0 when Wood makes at least four 3-pointers.
"Whenever Scott is hitting, we do win," Brown said.
N.C. State tried to create distance midway through the second half with six straight points from Wood to take a 46-43 lead but couldn't capitalize on its momentum.
Leslie missed a dunk at 14:03, which would have extended the Pack's lead to five points and then Tech scored the next four points. The Jackets led 51-47 with 10:10 left in the game after a runner by freshman guard Solomon Poole over Leslie's out-stretched hand. The game was tied at 55 after four straight points from Tech freshman Chris Bolden.
There's something about N.C. State that brings out the best in Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets only won four ACC games last season but one was in Raleigh.
And the Jackets scored only 49 points in their first ACC game last Saturday at Miami but had 38 in the first half on Wednesday.
Georgia Tech's bigs were aggressive and took the fight to N.C. State inside as the Jackets built a 38-37 halftime lead. Freshman forward Robert Carter Jr. had nine points in the first half and junior forward Daniel Miller scored eight. But the Pack's defense toughened in the second half and Carter finished with 12 points and Miller had 15.
By the time walk-ons Chase Cannon, Jay Lewis and Jevoni Robinson checked into the game in the final minute, the students behind N.C. State's basket starting chanting, "We want Duke!"
On Saturday, that's just what will happen.