Gavin Grant scored a career-high 24 for the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (21-9), who are suddenly reeling as they prepare for a fifth straight NCAA tournament. N.C. State has lost four straight, including consecutive losses to a team that hadn't beaten a ranked opponent all season.
The Demon Deacons reached the quarterfinals with a 78-66 win against No. 5 seed Florida State on Friday, beating a team trying to shore up its NCAA prospects. Now, with another win against the Wolfpack, they're playing their best basketball and brimming with a nothing-to-lose confidence after a disastrous regular season.
Wake Forest was ranked 18th in the preseason and picked to finish third in the ACC. But the Demon Deacons struggled after losing All-American point guard Chris Paul to the NBA, and seemed to have little depth behind all-league performers Williams and Justin Gray.
Williams and Gray each had their usual strong outings Friday. Williams went 8-for-13 from the floor with eight rebounds, while Gray finished with 19 points and a career-best 10 assists to direct an offense that shot 53 percent.
But it's the play of the guys behind that duo that suddenly has Wake Forest surging.
Ellis came into the tournament averaging 4.7 points with four double-figure scoring games, but he had 10 points with three 3s against the Seminoles and followed that with another big day. Walk-on Michael Drum - who came to Greensboro averaging 5.3 points - added 12 and hit two 3-pointers, and redshirt freshman Cameron Stanley matched his career-high of 10 points for the third time in four games.
Even 6-foot-11 reserve Kyle Visser, who has struggled just about all season, chipped in six points and 10 rebounds, helping the Demon Deacons take a 40-24 edge on the boards.
That was more than enough against a Wolfpack team that struggled with its shot for the second straight time against Wake Forest. After shooting 26 percent and 4-for-29 from 3-point range in last weekend's 76-63 loss, N.C. State shot 29 percent to fall behind by 17 points at halftime.
That lead grew to 23 points after the break. N.C. State improved in the second half to finish at 45 percent and went 10-for-29 from behind the arc for the game - much of that coming with Wake Forest leading comfortably.
Grant was the only N.C. State player to get off to a good start, scoring 11 points in the first half on 4-for-6 shooting while the rest of the team combined to go 4-for-22. Cameron Bennerman, the team's leading scorer who missed the last meeting with a pulled hamstring, finished with 23 points.