RALEIGH, N.C. — C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell wanted this moment, the chance to help No. 20 North Carolina State make a big step forward after a bumpy start to a season filled with potential.
After a rousing performance to take down No. 1 Duke, the duo has put the Wolfpack back on the radar.
Leslie scored 25, including six straight during a key second-half run, to help N.C. State beat the Blue Devils 84-76 on Saturday.
Howell added 16 points and 18 rebounds in a relentless performance for the Wolfpack (14-2, 3-0 ACC) in a matchup of the teams predicted to finish 1-2 in the league.
"Coach (Mark Gottfried) said in the locker room: Nobody's going to give us anything and we've got to take it," Howell said. "That's the mind-set we came out with. We've got to take everything … and that's what we did."
N.C. State was picked for the first time in nearly four decades to win the league, though two early losses drained some buzz.
No longer. Any lowered expectations are gone along with Duke's perfect record.
"I thought our guys, they accepted the challenge," Gottfried said. "It's one of those (games) where it comes to a point where mentally you say, 'I'm going to get it done,' and (the Blue Devils are) not going to go away. … They're not going to lay down for us. Our guys mentally showed a lot of toughness."
Lorenzo Brown had 12 points and 13 assists for the Wolfpack, and senior Scott Wood added 14 with three 3-pointers, including a four-point play in the first half.
Seth Curry scored 22 despite missing the final minutes with a left ankle injury for Duke (15-1, 2-1), which shot 45 percent and hung around early by crashing the boards for second-chance baskets. But the Blue Devils had no answer after halftime for Leslie and Howell, a duo that helped the Wolfpack lead all second half.
Hoosiers hang on
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana had a first half to remember. Then the No. 5 Hoosiers had to survive a forgettable finish.
The nation's highest-scoring team produced seven points in the final 4½ minutes, barely enough to hold off No. 8 Minnesota's furious closing flurry and hang on for an 88-81 victory.
On paper, it will go down as a win. In the film room, it will look very different to the Hoosiers (15-1, 3-0 Big Ten).
"A year ago we'd have been ecstatic with that victory, and I want them to enjoy it, but we have different expectation levels now," coach Tom Crean said. "We have a lot of room for improvement."
Victor Oladipo fouled out after fouling a 3-point shooter for the third time in the game. Jordan Hulls had two turnovers and missed three free throws during Minnesota's closing run. The Hoosiers' vaunted bench went 0-of-8 from the field.
The mistakes allowed Minnesota (15-2, 3-1) to trim a 23-point Indiana halftime lead to 13 early in the second and a 15-point deficit to three with 19 seconds to go.
NO. 4 ARIZONA 80, OREGON ST. 70: Solomon Hill had 16 points, including five 3-pointers, and the visiting Wildcats (15-1, 3-1 Pac-12) rebounded from their first loss.
NO. 6 KANSAS 60, TEXAS TECH 46: Kevin Young scored 14 for the Jayhawks (14-1, 2-0), who won their 13th straight in their first Big 12 road game this season.
NO. 7 SYRACUSE 72, VILLANOVA 61: C.J. Fair had 22 points, Trevor Cooney hit two 3-pointers to punctuate a late surge and the Orange (16-1, 4-0 Big East) won its 34th straight home game, the longest active streak in Division I. Syracuse senior forward James Southerland is out indefinitely because of an eligibility issue.
OLE MISS 64, NO. 10 MISSOURI 49: Murphy Holloway scored 22 for the host Rebels, who led the entire game against a Tigers (12-3, 1-1 SEC) team missing leading scorer Laurence Bowers to a sprained MCL in his right knee.
WISCONSIN 74, NO. 12 ILLINOIS 51: Jared Berggren had 15 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for the host Badgers, who won their sixth straight game. The Illini (14-4, 1-3 Big Ten) have lost four of six.
NO. 14 BUTLER 79, DAYTON 73: Roosevelt Jones scored 16 for the host Bulldogs (14-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10), who lost top scorer Rotnei Clarke when he hit the padded backboard support after an intentional foul in the first half. He was taken off on a stretcher but was moving his legs.
NO. 16 SAN DIEGO ST. 79, COLO. ST. 72, OT: Chase Tapley scored 12 of his 19 in overtime, including two 3-pointers and a layup off a steal, to lift the host Aztecs (14-2, 2-0 Mountain West).
UCONN 65, NO. 17 NOTRE DAME 58: Shabazz Napier scored 19, Tyler Olander scored 12 of his career-high 16 in the second half and the visiting Huskies ended the game with a 7-0 run to snap a 12-game winning streak by the Fighting Irish (14-2, 2-1 Big East).
NO. 18 KANSAS ST. 65, W. VA. 64: Shane Southwell made two free throws with 21 seconds left, then blocked Gary Browne's layup with a second left for the visiting Wildcats (13-2, 2-0 Big 12), who won their sixth straight game.
NO. 19 G'TOWN 67, ST. JOHN'S 51: Otto Porter had 19 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for the visiting Hoyas (11-3, 1-2 Big East), who had lost two straight games and scored 48 in both.
NO. 21 CINCINNATI 68, RUTGERS 58: Cashmere Wright had 23 for the visiting Bearcats (14-3, 2-2 Big East), who snapped a two-game skid.
NO. 25 NEW MEXICO 72, FRESNO ST. 45: Alex Kirk had 19 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the host Lobos (15-2, 2-0 Mountain West), whose leading scorer, Kendall Williams, sat out for the third time this season for disciplinary reasons.
ECU 88, UCF 85, OT: Corvonn Gaines sank a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left in overtime as the host Pirates rallied past the Knights (11-5, 1-1 C-USA).
B-CU 72, N.C. A&T 60: Malik Jackson scored 20 and Kevin Dukes added 19 for host Bethune-Cookman (6-11, 1-1 MEAC).
N.C. CENTRAL 85, FAMU 62: Jeremy Ingram scored 26 for the Eagles, who snapped a three-game home winning streak by the Rattlers (4-12, 1-1 MEAC).
LYNN 76, TAMPA 60: The visiting Spartans (12-3, 0-3 Sunshine State) shot 38.6 percent from the field, 17.6 percent from 3-point range and 56.5 from the line.
ECKERD 80, FLA. TECH 76: Darrien Mack hit a fadeaway jumper inside the lane with 37 seconds left to lift the visiting Tritons (8-3, 2-2 SSC).
SAINT LEO 84, BARRY 79, 2OT: Marcus Ruh had 22 points and Jerrel Harris 21, including eight in a row for the visiting Lions (11-2, 4-0 SSC) in overtime.