The Yellow Jackets upset N.C. State 82-71 in Raleigh, giving coach Brian Gregory his first ACC win. The Wolfpack could not afford another setback like that, not if they want to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid.
N.C. State forward Scott Wood finally missed a free throw, ending his ACC record streak at 66 in a row. Actually, he missed three, going 2-for-5 at the foul line.
The Wolfpack has its best mark in conference play after 10 games since the 2005-06 season and trails the top three in the ACC - Duke, North Caroling and Florida State - by only one game in the loss column. C.J. Leslie added 13 points, while Wood and Lorenzo Brown had 10 apiece. N.C. State came into the game with all five starters averaging in double figures.
Georgia Tech led much of the first half but poor shooting kept the home team from pushing out to a bigger advantage, even as they won the battle on the boards and seemed to outhustle the Wolfpack for every loose ball. Alex Johnson hit a jumper with just over a minute remaining that turned out to be the final points of the half, sending N.C. State to the locker room with a 26-24 lead.
N.C. State started to put some distance on the Yellow Jackets when Williams hit a 3-pointer from the corner and then went tumbling out of bounds on a foul by Daniel Miller, trying desperately to get a hand up. Williams swished the free throw to complete the four-point play, giving the Wolfpack a 35-28 lead.
Wood followed with a steal, drove for the basket and was fouled as well, going to the line looking to cap a quick 7-0 run. But he finally missed, ending his record streak a dozen free throws ahead of the previous ACC mark - 54 in a row by Duke's J.J. Redick. Wood missed two more in the final minute trying to ice the victory, but the Wolfpack already had enough points against the offensively challenged Yellow Jackets.
Mfon Udofia, who had 17 points in the win over N.C. States, failed to make the score sheet in the rematch. He went 0-for-9 from the field, including five attempts outside the arc.
Trailing 51-40, Georgia Tech put together a last gasp with a 7-0 spurt, capped by Brandon Reed's wild left-handed shot that banked in while he was fouled. He finished off the three-point play, but Brown made two free throws and Leslie tacked on another basket that helped seal the win.
Leslie also had 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.