WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Gavin Grant scored 24 points and Courtney Fells added a career-high 20 as North Carolina State beat Wake Forest 88-74 on Saturday to give coach Sidney Lowe his first Atlantic Coast Conference victory.
Brandon Costner added 17 points for the Wolfpack (11-6, 1-3), who won their first road game and avoided their first 0-4 conference start since the 1996-97 team started 0-7 under first-year coach Herb Sendek.Lowe, who took over for Sendek last summer, used a halfcourt trapping defense that forced 22 Wake Forest turnovers and led to numerous easy baskets. N.C. State shot 61 percent and hit 9-of-20 3-pointers.Kevin Swinton scored 16 points, but leading scorer Kyle Visser was plagued by foul trouble and had only 11 points and two rebounds for the Demon Deacons (9-7, 1-3), who lost their second straight game -- both at home -- despite shooting 54 percent.In a sloppy game befitting two teams picked to finish at the bottom of the league, N.C. State exploited the Demon Deacons' inexperienced backcourt. Freshman point guard Ishmael Smith and backup Shamaine Dukes struggled against the Wolfpack's traps in a decisive first-half run.Fells and Costner hit 3-pointers in a 12-0 spurt that gave N.C. State a 43-27 lead late in the first half as the Demon Deacons struggled just to get a shot off. Wake Forest committed 11 first-half turnovers in falling behind 50-32.Lowe, who has routinely used only six players in games this season, played nine players in the first half. Former walk-on Bryan Nieman had two steals in the half and finished with two points and four rebounds.Wake Forest, which has won four games this season after trailing by double digits, cut a 22-point deficit to 12 on Visser's shot in the paint with 4:25 left. But Ben McCauley answered with a half hook at the other end and the Wolfpack were never threatened again as they won at Wake Forest for only the third time in 17 games.N.C. State wasn't hurt by missing point guard Engin Atsur for the 11th time in 12 games due to a hamstring injury. Grant filled in at the point and had five rebounds and four assists and the Wolfpack overcame 19 turnovers.