WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Freshman Devin Thomas had a season-high 25 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to help Wake Forest upset No. 18 North Carolina State 86-84 on Tuesday night.
Travis McKie added 16 points for the Demon Deacons (10-8, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), including two free throws with 3.4 seconds left that helped Wake Forest hold on down the stretch in a wild final 4½ minutes.
N.C. State led by 16 points in the first half and 12 at halftime only to see the Demon Deacons rally and push ahead to their own 10-point lead.
Then N.C. State (15-4, 4-2) managed its own comeback, closing the gap to a point with about a minute left. But ultimately, Wake Forest — a team filled with freshmen — did just enough to earn a win that sent their fans storming the court to celebrate.
Wake Forest shot 59 percent after halftime.
This was a huge win for the Demon Deacons, who have done little other than struggle in three seasons under Jeff Bzdelik. That included losses to the Wolfpack here by 36 and 25 points in the past two meetings in Winston-Salem.
But Wake Forest is 3-0 at home in league games this season and managed to deny N.C. State its first 5-1 ACC start since 1988-89. It was also the Demon Deacons’ first win against a team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 since beating Georgia Tech in February 2010 under former coach Dino Gaudio, according to STATS LLC.
Rookie Codi Miller-McIntyre scored 15 points for the Demon Deacons, who led 82-72 with about 4 minutes left before the Wolfpack’s final push made things interesting. N.C. State used a 10-1 run to close the gap and pull within 83-82 on C.J. Leslie’s free throw with 1:01 to go.
But Leslie missed two free throws for the lead with 29.9 seconds left, then Scott Wood missed an open 3-pointer off an offensive rebound following Leslie’s second miss. Then, after a free throw from C.J. Harris, the Wolfpack came up empty on two shots from inside the paint — one from Leslie while taking contact and a runner off a loose rebound by Rodney Purvis — with the chance to tie.
The Wolfpack had a final chance to tie or win after Leslie scored on a layup with 1.2 seconds left to cut it to two. Freshman T.J. Warren stole a long inbounds pass near midcourt, but his final desperate heave wasn’t close as the horn sounded.
Purvis scored 18 points to lead the Wolfpack, who fell to 1-2 since upsetting top-ranked Duke on Jan 12. Warren scored 14 points, while Leslie scored 13 despite playing just 18 minutes due to foul trouble.