RALEIGH — N.C. State saved its best, or at least its most complete win, for the ACC champions.
With a decisive rebounding edge and its defense clicking, the Wolfpack throttled Florida State 84-66 on Tuesday night for its first dominant win in league play this season.
We needed a game like this, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. We needed to play well and feel good about how we played.
With 31 points and 13 rebounds from forward T.J. Warren, both season-best numbers for the freshman, N.C. State won its third straight ACC game and improved to 8-5 in the league.
N.C. State (19-7) has had big wins this season, beating Duke and North Carolina at home, but it hasnt won big in ACC play. Tuesday was the Wolfpacks first double-digit win since a 13-point victory against Georgia Tech on Jan.13. Even in that game N.C. State trailed at the half.
I was telling the guys, we havent had a blowout game in awhile, said junior guard Lorenzo Brown, who had nine assists. It was about time to get one.
FSU, the 2012 ACC champ, looked and played nothing like the previous tough, defensive-minded versions under coach Leonard Hamilton. The Seminoles (14-12, 6-7 ACC) were indifferent on defense and absent on the glass.
N.C. State outrebounded FSU 45-21 overall and 21-6 on the offensive glass. Both rebounding numbers were the best this season for the Wolfpack, which had been outrebounded in the past three games and five times in ACC play.
Coach has stressed to me the importance of rebounding, 6-foot-8 Warren said.
He got the message with eight offensive rebounds and helped the Wolfpack outscore FSU 29-6 in second-chance points. Warren scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half and finished with the third-most points by a freshman in school history.
The Wolfpack destroyed the Seminoles on the offensive glass in the first half, 10-1, and had seven steals to build a 40-30 halftime advantage. Midway through the second half, N.C. State was in complete control and rounded into highlight mode. C.J. Leslies tomahawk dunk, after FSUs bigs vacated the lane, at 11 minutes, 22 seconds in the half stretched the Wolfpacks lead to 60-43.
FSU, with 20 points from senior guard Michael Snaer, cut the deficit to 65-55 with 6:53 to play but Warren responded with his second 3-pointer of the game. Scott Wood (13 points) followed with one of his three 3s and the Wolfpacks breathing room was restored.
Leslies alley-oop, off an inbounds play at 2:18, put an exclamation point on the Wolfpacks first win against FSU since the 2010 ACC tournament.
Leslie had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and three SportsCenter quality dunks, including a sweeping, all-in-one-motion follow of a Richard Howell miss in the first half.
Brown was asked describe Leslies highlight dunk.
Which one? he quipped.
It was that kind of night for N.C. State, which needed overtime to outlast last-place Virginia Tech on Saturday and a 3-pointer with 1 second left to escape Clemson on Feb. 10 with a one-point win.
All of N.C. States usual problems defense, rebounding, free-throw shooting disappeared for one night against a green and unorganized FSU team. N.C. State equaled its best mark in ACC play with nine steals and it made 25 of 31 free throws for the game, including a 9-of-11 start.
Warren, a 51.7 percent free-throw shooter, made all five of his free throws and 12 of 15 field goals.
My teammates did a good of finding me and everything just fell into place, Warren said.
-- N.C. State finished with a season-best 21 offensive rebounds, which led to 29 second-chance points. FSU, which uses three 7-footers in its 11-man rotation, finished the game with just six second-chance points.
-- Freshman T.J. Warren has cracked the 20-point mark five times this season but Tuesdays game was his first with double-digit rebounds. Eight of Warrens 13 rebounds came on the offensive glass, which is more rebounds than he has had in any other ACC game.
-- Senior guard Scott Wood made three 3-pointers giving him 303 for his career. He needs 20 to surpass Rodney Monroe for the school career record.
-- Former UCLA and Georgia coach Jim Harrick attended Tuesdays game. Harrick, Gottfrieds mentor who lives in California, has been at the past two N.C. State games.