RALEIGH — It's the same two teams in the same season, but it's difficult to imagine N.C. State and Wake Forest being more different on Tuesday than they were last month in Winston-Salem.
N.C. State got a career-high 34 points from sophomore T.J. Warren to beat the Demon Deacons 82-67 for its fifth win in six games and ninth straight home win over Wake Forest.
Flash back almost four weeks ago when Wake Forest won 70-69 and the Wolfpack couldn't solve the Deacs' zone, Warren was limited by foul trouble and Wake was effective from the foul line.
On Tuesday, the Wolfpack made eight 3-pointers, Warren had one foul and scored at will and the Demon Deacons finished 14 of 31 from the foul line.
The difference between N.C. State then and now?
"I think a lot, we've gotten better," Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said.
The Wolfpack (16-8) backed up Saturday's win at Miami with its five win in six ACC games to improve to 6-5 in conference play.
Wake Forest (14-10) fell to 4-7 in the ACC with its fourth straight conference loss. Codi Miller-McIntyre, who hit the game-winning layup in Wake's win over State on Jan. 15, returned from an ankle injury and had 15 points and seven assists but Warren didn't leave any room for late-game heroics.
Warren finished with 34 points, on 15 field goals, in 36 minutes. He added 10 rebounds and matched his career-best with three 3-pointers, all of which came in the first half.
It was Warren's fifth 30-point game of the season and second in the past four games. He leads the ACC in scoring but hasn't exactly kept up with his individual numbers.
"I like the wins," Warren said. "They're much better, just keep racking up wins."
Wake's zone worked well in the second half last time but the Wolfpack found the creases, and sometimes invitations for open 3s, and buried eight, the most it has had in 11 ACC games this season.
"You're a perimeter player and when the other team zones you, that's kind of personal," Gottfried said. "I mean, I need to step up and make some shots at some point. I think our guys have taken that as a good challenge."
Freshman guard Cat Barber, who came off the bench for the second straight game, drained a pair of 3s. Barber's 3 from the left corner, with 10:35 left in the game, gave the Pack a 63-47 lead and left Wake scrambling.
Barber finished with 10 points in 16 minutes. Combined with Tyler Lewis, who started, Gottfried got 14 points and nine assists from his point guards.
Wake Forest compounded its defensive problems with a poor performance from the free-throw line. In Wake's home win earlier this season, the Deacs made 28 of 39 free throws.
Again, Tuesday was so different it was scary for Wake, which made only 8 of 24 from the free-throw line as it fell behind 46-38 at the half.
Wake actually had the game tied at 30 and 35 before Warren led a late run to end the half. Then Ralston Turner, who finished with 16 points, drilled a 3 to start the second half, followed by a runner by Warren and the Pack's lead quickly hit double digits and stayed there.
Barber's 3 created some room and three minutes later a dunk by Kyle Washington made it elementary.
The Wolfpack gets some time to digest Tuesday's win and prepare for Saturday's trip to No. 1 Syracuse.