It wasn't an easy win for the Wolfpack, but they will surely take it after seeing a 15-point lead dwindle to three in the final minutes before an Ilian Evtimov three-pointer gave NC State a six-point lead that they would never relinquish.
The Wolfpack jumped out to an early lead behind the strong play of freshman Andrew Brackman. The 6'10 forward scored 11 of the Wolfpack first 13 points while being matched up against the slow-footed Luke Schenscher. Brackman's 12 first half points keyed NC State's 37-27 halftime lead.
Georgia Tech struggled taking care of the basketball in the first half, yielding 11 turnovers to just five for the Wolfpack. The Jackets connected on 11 of 24 field goal attempts but were 0 of 5 from the three-point arc.
NC State only hit 12 of 27 shots in the half, but connected on 4 of ll from three-point range and also hit nine of 13 free throws.
The Wolfpack opened the second half playing energized, pushing it's lead to 44-29. However, a tough Georgia Tech team wouldn't go away, as they would cut NC State's lead to 45-40 midway through the final half.
However, clutch shooting, hustle, and determination would lead the Wolfpack to the victory, as they again would expand the lead to fifteen points, this time leading 64-49 with under six minutes to play.
Tech answered NC State's run with a run of their own, scoring 12 straight points to cut NC State's lead to 64-61 with just over three minutes left in the game. Then NC State junior Ilian Evtimov connected on a long-range jumper with 2:14 left in the game as the Pack went up six and never looked back.
Terrific free throw shooting down the stretch and good defense was enough for the Wolfpack to hang on and win, 76-68. Perhaps the most promising note for Wolfpack fans is that senior Julius Hodge, who has struggled from the free throw line, connected on his final 12 free throw attempts.
Evtimov led the Wolfpack in scoring with 17 points while Cameron Bennerman added 16. Hodge finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds while freshman Gavin Grant had another strong outing, adding 13 points and five rebounds. Brackman's 12 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots also can't go unnoticed.
Point guard Jarrett Jack led the Yellow Jackets with 16 points and Isma'il Muhammad added 12 points.
Both teams entered the game missing key players due to injury, as Georgia Tech played without senior guard B.J. Elder and NC State was missing junior point guard Tony Bethel and senior forward Levi Watkins. Bethel is still recovering from colotis while Watkins suffered from flu-like symptons and was unable to attend the game.
NC State (12-5, 1-2) next plays Wednesday night at Virginia Tech while Georgia Tech (11-4, 2-2) returns home to face the Hokies next Saturday.