RALEIGH — N.C. State's marketing slogan proclaims, "This is our State." After Saturday's win over North Carolina, it's at least the Wolfpack's Triangle.
N.C. State handled UNC 91-83 in an uneven, yet at times dominant performance, six years in the making. With 20 points and 11 assists from junior guard Lorenzo Brown, No. 18 N.C. State ended a 13-game losing streak to the Tar Heels.
Both forwards Richard Howell (16 points and 14 rebounds) and C.J. Leslie (17 and 10) finished with double-doubles for N.C. State, which had lost 19 of 20 games to UNC (13-6, 3-3 ACC) coach Roy Williams.
The Wolfpack (16-4, 5-2) still might have to hold off on the "Our State" proclamation, after Tuesday's game at Wake Forest, but it has beaten its blue neighbors in the past two weeks.
"Our program has lost a lot of games to North Carolina," second-year coach Mark Gottfried said. "They're good and have been good. We're trying to get good. At some point, you've got to turn it a little bit. This is a start."
It looked like the Wolfpack would deliver a knockout for the frenzied, sellout crowd of 19,577 at PNC Arena. State took control of the game at the end of the first half with a decisive 20-2 run to take a 45-26 halftime lead. The Pack's margin ballooned to 28 points, 61-33, with 13:22 left in the game.
"It was a butt-kicking, is what it was," Williams said. "I'm not big into moral victories whatsoever, and we did try to make a comeback but I think our teams will always make a comeback. But North Carolina State was more prepared, they had a greater sense of urgency and they worked harder."
UNC did make N.C. State earn its first win in the series since Feb. 3, 2007 in the final minutes. With 19 points from P.J. Hairston, in just 17 minutes, UNC cut the 28-point deficit down to five with 30.7 seconds left.
Then Brown and Scott Wood (12 points) made all six of their free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win. Brown was elated after the game but not entirely satisfied.
N.C. State, which gave up 51 points in the second half of Tuesday's loss at Wake, gave up 57 on Saturday to the Heels.
"The first half was the 'real' State," Brown said. "The second half, I don't know what we did. If we can get two halves, we would be great."
It was an almost a surreal identity swap from what has been the norm between the two programs. Williams' teams have routinely beaten State with the type of playmaking from a point guard like Brown displayed on Saturday.
Brown seized control of the game against UNC freshman point guard Marcus Paige, who missed his first eight shots, and the Pack outscored UNC, 39-19 in transition, including 20-0 in the first half.
"Any time he's aggressive like that, it makes us a little different," Wood said of Brown.
Paige, who finished with seven points and four assists, did make both of his free throws at 5:22 to make it 70-61. A four-point play from Wood with 4:18 to play seemed to quell UNC's momentum and pushed the Pack's lead back to 78-63 but UNC kept coming.
Hairston hit his fifth 3 with 1:00 left and then James Michael McAdoo's follow-up dunk with 30.7 left cut the Pack's lead to 85-80. Wood and Brown made the next six free throws to avoid an epic meltdown.
There was no on-court celebration after the clock finally ran out on the Tar Heels but there was an "Our State!" chant. Brown said the win was as much for the fans as the Wolfpack players.
"They haven't seen a win in a long time against UNC," Brown said. "We just went out and got it done."