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Feb 9, 2024 4:34 pm

Rivals NC State, Wake Forest fighting to bolster tourney resumes

andrew carr

In terms of postseason prospects, it is hard to say which team needs a win more when North Carolina State visits Wake Forest on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Wake Forest (15-7, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is riding high after a pair of blowout victories, as the Demon Deacons have put some sterling performances on display.

NC State (15-8, 7-5), like Wake, is trying to stay in the upper half of the ACC standings. Completing a season sweep of the in-state rival would be a big boost.

“We can’t lose anymore, man,” NC State guard DJ Horne said. “We want to get to March. That’s why I came here. So, we got to figure out what we got to do.”

Wake Forest drilled Syracuse Feb. 3 and Georgia Tech on Tuesday for consecutive romps by 29-point margins. It’s the first time since the opening week of January that the Demon Deacons have won back-to-back games.

Wake Forest went 17-for-17 on free throws in its 80-51 win at Georgia Tech. All five starters scored in double figures and the Demon Deacons outrebounded the Yellow Jackets by 11.

“Some of our problems in the past have been giving up offensive rebounds in the second half,” Wake coach Steve Forbes said. “We did a really good job of not doing that (Tuesday night).”

NC State was hampered by 6-for-15 shooting on free throws in Wednesday night’s 67-64 home loss to Pitt, halting a two-game winning streak.

“We can’t let it snowball,” NC State guard Casey Morsell said. “The game comes down to the details so we just have to clean up the little things.”

NC State has trailed at halftime in six of its last seven games. Horne has averaged 25 points across the past three games, with NC State averaging just six turnovers per game during that stretch.

Under Keatts, the Wolfpack are 10-3 against the Demon Deacons. That includes a 4-2 mark in Winston-Salem.

NC State came back from a double-figure, second-half deficit to defeat Wake Forest 83-76 on Jan. 16 at home despite coach Kevin Keatts’ ejection. Horne had 21 points for the Wolfpack in that game, while Andrew Carr went off for 28 for Wake.

–Field Level Media

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