Wood, Pack Upset Seminoles, 88-81

Freshman Scott Wood scored a career-high 31 points and NC State hit 17-of-20 free throws in the final minutes to upset No. 25 Florida State 88-81 in Tallahassee.

NC State, looking to rebound from a tough home loss to Virginia, came out motivated and confident against the Seminoles with freshman Scott Wood leading the way.

The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter from Marion, Indiana scored 10 points in the game's first eight minutes to help the Pack take an early 18-11 advantage. Wood knocked down a couple of 3-pointers, hit a contested mid-range jumper, and scored a layup in transition following a steal to give the Pack the seven-point lead.

State extended its lead to 23-12 before Derwin Kitchin scored back-to-back buckets to pull the 'Noles within seven at the eight-minute timeout. For much of the half, both teams struggled establishing any real consistency offensively. Florida State had problems with State's extended pressure, something they hadn't utilized much up until this point of the season, and the Wolfpack struggled with FSU's aggressive man-to-man halfcourt defense.

Seminole sophomore Chris Singleton was the ringleader defensively, and a steal by the 6'9 wing led to a breakaway layup which cut State's lead to 33-28 with four minutes remaining in the half. The Pack closed the half with a nice spurt to take a nine-point lead, but Singleton had a tip-in at the buzzer to pull FSU within seven at 38-31 at halftime.

Wood was the main weapon for the Wolfpack, scoring 13 points in the half as the Pack shot 48% from the field. Leading scorer Tracy Smith was held to just two points in the first 20 minutes after picking up two early fouls.

Florida State could never get any flow going on the offensive end. State extended pressure and it often led to the wings and power forwards bringing the ball up the floor. Sophomore center Solomon Alabi had just two field goal attempts in the half as State packed it in to try and take him away and make the 'Noles hit jumpshots which they couldn't do.

The start of the second half was the same as the first as Wood came out and drilled a 3-pointer on the Pack's opening possession. The teams exchanged some baskets before Dennis Horner knocked down a 3-pointer on a nice assist from Farnold Degand to give State a 48-35 advantage.

Florida State continued to have problems with State's defense, but remained in attack mode and it paid off with the Seminoles scoring points from the free throw line. Just minutes into the half Smith and Javy Gonzalez picked up their third fouls for the Wolfpack, and the free throw line kept FSU in it.

However, each time they seemed to be gaining any sort of momentum, Wood and the Pack answered.

FSU's Ryan Reid hit a midrange jumper to cut the lead down to six at 53-47 with 10 minutes remaining. On State's next possession Farnold Degand hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to nine. Deividas Dulkys hit the 'Noles first 3-pointer of the game minutes later, cutting the lead to five at 56-51, and Wood answered with a baseline jumper off a screen from Dennis Horner.

Alabi hit two free throws for FSU that narrowed the lead back down to four at 59-55, and Wood once again provided the answer. On the ensuing possession he hit a contested 3-pointer over Michael Snaer and followed that up with another deep trey that pushed the lead back out to ten points with five minutes left.

State's unwillingness to fold was the biggest factor in the outcome. When FSU applied pressure the Pack always answered and put themselves in a position to win their first ACC game of the season.

With a double-digit lead entering the final minutes, State needed to take care of the basketball and hit their free throws and they did just that. Gonzalez fouled out and was virtually a non-factor for most of the game, but backup point guard Julius Mays came in and helped ice the game away. The sophomore hit ten free throws down the stretch, and Smith and Degand also hit their free throws to help secure the upset win for the Wolfpack.

After struggling with free throws in previous games, the Pack hit 29-of-35 (83%) from the charity stripe in the wing. State also shot 45% from the field, a strong number against the Seminoles, one of the nation's top defensive teams.

"We knocked them down, down the stretch," said Lowe. "They kept putting us on the line and our guys stepped up there and made them... I thought we really fought mentally."

NC State also outrebounded FSU by nine (37-28), but the biggest stat might have been the 48% shooting from beyond the arc where the Pack hit 11-of-23 3-pointers. FSU knocked down 4-of-13, but three of those came in the final two minutes when the game was virtually decided.

Wood finished the night 10-of-15 from the field and 7-of-11 from behind the 3-point line. He also hit 4-of-6 free throws, but did miss two after being fouled late in the game.

"I'm not making any excuses," he said. "But I had a partially torn contact. I'll probably here about [missing free throws] from my parents."

His 31 points was the highest a Wolfpack freshman scored in a conference game since Ernie Myers scored 35 against Duke in 1983. Wood also added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block.

Senior Farnold Degand, who made his first start of the season, added 13. Julius Mays added 12 and hit all his free throws down the stretch. Richard Howell came off the bench to score seven points and grab seven boards.

Chris Singleton scored a career-high 22 points for the Seminoles.

NC State (12-5, 1-2) returns to the court Saturday in the RBC Center against Clemson, and FSU hosts Virginia Tech over the weekend.


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