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Freshman helps 'Pack shut down Hale, FSU

If Damien Wilkins is anything he's a total player.

The 6-foot-6 freshman may have had his best game yet, scoring 19 points as North Carolina State held Florida State to 33 percent shooting on the way to a 68-58 victory Wednesday night.

"He was fantastic on both ends of the floor," N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said of Wilkins, who also had five rebounds, two assists and helped shut down Florida State's scoring star Ron Hale. "It's difficult to compare one game to the next, but it's hard to quickly recall a night he has been as complete."

The Wolfpack is 14-0 at its new home at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. The streak is the longest for the school since winning 17 in a row in Reynolds Coliseum from 1988-89.

Anthony Grundy added 17 points, while Archie Miller had 12.

"We have to continue to get better," Sendek said when asked about his team's record at the halfway point of the ACC season. "There is still a lot of time and basketball ahead of us and we have to seize every opportunity to continue to learn and improve. We can't sway from that mind-set."

The Seminoles have lost five of six after a 2-0 ACC start. Hale, fourth in the ACC in scoring at 17.4 points, scored 12 of his 16 in the second half.

"We seemed to be a little bit out of sync," said Florida State coach Steve Robinson. "We never could get it going. They were active. Our decision-making just wasn't what I expected or wanted it to be.

"When you are playing a team like that you know they're going to pressure you and you've got to be strong with the basketball and move it."

Wilkins came into the game shooting 27.8 percent from the field in seven ACC games, but the freshman was 6-for-7 from the field and 6-for-6 from the foul line.

"The bottom line is I know I can shoot the ball and I know where my game is going," Wilkins said. "I don't look at percentages on paper because it's not all about me, we're winning games right now. I can't ask for anything better."

The Seminoles trailed by 11 at the half, but closed to six early in the second half before a 16-footer and baseline drive by Grundy gave N.C. State a 47-34 lead with eight minutes left.

N.C. State closed out the game 2{ minutes later by forcing two turnovers that resulted in a Wilkins layup and a three-pointer by Justin Gainey for a 17-point lead. The Wolfpack also made 10 of 12 free throws in the final 1:33.

The Wolfpack made four three-pointers during a 19-3 first-half run that turned a two-point deficit into a 27-13 lead 3:34 before halftime. Miller started and ended the run with long-range shots while Damon Thornton came up with three blocks on defense.

Florida State's worst first half of the season ended with 2-for-13 shooting with five turnovers in the final 13 minutes as Hale had four points. The Seminoles had one field goal in an 11-minute span.

The previous first-half low point total for the Seminoles was 21 against Seton Hall in the seventh game of the season.