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December 20, 2009

NC State struggles in ACC opener

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Wake Forest power forward Al-Farouq Aminu scored 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting, and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Demon Deacons to a 67-59 victory over NC State on Sunday in front of 14,255 fans at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.

If it wasn't Aminu and the cadre of Wake Forest big guys, then it was senior point guard Ishmael Smith controlling the action on the perimeter. Smith finished with 10 points, seven assists, two steals and two big blocked shots.

NC State fell to 8-2 overall and 0-1 in the ACC, while Wake Forest improved to 8-2 overall and 1-0 in the conference. The Wolfpack return to action Wednesday at Arizona.

NC State point guard Javier Gonzalez hit a flurry of shots late for a team-high 18 points (plus eight rebounds), and junior center Tracy Smith (10 rebounds) and freshman small forward Scott Wood each had 11 points apiece. Smith and Wood battled foul trouble throughout the game, with Smith eventually fouling out, playing only 23 minutes. Wood finished with four fouls, which he picked up with 14:11 left in the game, but managed to play 32 minutes.

Both teams shot under 4e percent for the game, but Wake Forest was much better from the field in the first half (51.7 percent) to take a commanding 35-26 halftime lead.

NC State cut the lead to 39-33 thanks to a three-pointer and break-away layup by Wood. Wake Forest maintained the lead, but eventually NCSU senior power forward Dennis Horner spotted up for a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 42-38 with 14:29 left in the game.

Ish Smith made perhaps the play of the game when he blocked Horner's shot at one end, and then threw a pretty alley-oop to Aminu for a dunk to built the lead up to 48-38 with 12:06 left in the game. The second big end-to-end play happened a few possessions later when Aminu stole the inbounds pass, kicked it out to Ish Smith, who then bounced the ball off the court to Aminu for a dunk and a 52-40 lead.

WFU freshman guard C.J. Harris (11 points) banked in a three-pointer, and the Demon Deacons were off and running, leading 55-42 with less than 8 1/2 minutes left in the game.

Tracy Smith picked up his fourth and fifth fouls to foul out of the contest with 5:28 left in the game. Wake Forest was in control of the game, and Aminu got a big dunk right down the lane to give the Demon Deacons' a commanding 60-46 lead.

Gonzalez tried to mount a comeback, two three-pointers and three free throws for nine points. The Wolfpack played fullcourt pressure defense, and Wake Forest was struggling with turnovers. The closet NC State could get is 64-57 down the stretch.

NC State shot 21 of 62 from the field for 33.9 percent, and were 6 of 21 from three-point range for 28.6 percent. The Wolfpack also struggled from the free-throw line, going 11 of 19 for 57.9 percent.

Wake Forest wasn't much better, but did shoot well in the first half. The Demon Deacons shot 26 of 61 from the field for 42.6 percent, and were 3 of 11 on three-pointers. WFU also struggled at the line, going 12 of 23 for 52.2 percent.


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