WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – D.J. Burns scored a career-high 31 points to lead NC State back from a double-digit second half deficit and beat Wake Forest, 79-77, inside Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
With the win, NC State improves to 17-5, 7-4 in the ACC, while Wake Forest falls to 14-8, 6-5 in the ACC.
Burns was unstoppable in the second half as he shot 10-of-15 from the field and scored 23 of his 31 points.
Despite Burns’ dominance, the Pack trailed for a majority of the game.
The Demon Deacons led by six at the half and increased the lead to 10, 53-43, on an Andrew Carr three-point play with 13:02 to play.
Wake Forest still had a 60-51 advantage with 10:05 to go when the Pack went on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 62 with 6:32 remaining.
Out of a timeout, NC State got a stop on defense and Burns scored on the other end to give the Pack its first lead since it was 16-15 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Wake Forest would tie the game at 64, but freshman LJ Thomas would drain a three off a pass from Burns on NC State’s next possession to put NC State back in front.
The Demon Deacons scored on the other end, but Casey Morsell made a three-pointer on NC State’s ensuing possession to give the Pack a four-point advantage.
Wake Forest would make one final charge, tying the game at 73 on a Demari Monsanto jumper with 1:35 to go.
Burns was fouled on the next possession and made both free throws to give the Pack a two-point lead. The Deacs split a pair of free throws on the other end to cut NC State’s lead to one.
Terquavion Smith, who only played 20 minutes because of foul trouble, drove the lane and beat the shot clock with a runner to give the Pack a 77-74 advantage with 38 seconds left.
After a defensive stop, Jarkel Joiner made both free throws with 11 seconds left to push the game out of reach.
Joiner finished with 17 points and Smith added 16 for the Pack as the trio of Burns, Joiner and Smith scored 64 of NC State’s 79 points.
NC State blocked a season-high 11 shots on Saturday. Ebenezer Dowuona led the Pack with three, while Burns, Casey Morsell and Ernest Ross each had two.
Greg Gantt did not score of NC State but finished with a team-high 10 rebounds.
After shooting just 33.3 percent in the first half, the Pack shot 63.3 percent in the final 20 minutes.
With the win, the Pack finishes the month of January with a 6-1 record. It’s the best winning percentage in the month of January for NC State since the 1988-89 NC State team went 8-1 (.889) in January 1989.
NC State is back in action Wednesday night when it hosts Florida State. Tipoff at PNC Arena is scheduled for 9 p.m., and the game will be televised on the ACC Network.
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