Warren, Wolfpack hand Vols first home loss

By Steve Megargee

Associated Press

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – T.J. Warren scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds Wednesday as N.C. State beat Tennessee, 65-58, for its sixth consecutive victory.

N.C. State (8-2) hasn’t lost since being stunned, 82-72, in overtime by N.C. Central on Nov. 20. This marked the Wolfpack’s first road win of the season, as they had fallen 68-57 at Cincinnati on Nov. 12 in their only previous away game.

Anthony Barber had 12 points, and Desmond Lee added 10 points for N.C. State, which pulled away down the stretch after allowing a 17-point halftime lead to shrink to five.

Jordan McRae scored 21 points for Tennessee (6-4), which shot 29.4 percent (20 of 68) overall and 12.5 percent (3 of 24) from 3-point range. Jeronne Maymon had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Tennessee. Jordan Stokes added 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Vols absorbed their first home loss.

With students on winter break, Tennessee didn’t have as much of a home-court advantage as usual. The fans that did show up at Thompson-Boling Arena didn’t have much to celebrate.

N.C. State led throughout the first half while capitalizing on Tennessee’s poor shooting and all-around sluggish performance. Tennessee made just one basket, scored five points in the last 9 ½ minutes of the half and headed to the locker room trailing, 37-20, the largest deficit the Vols had faced all season.

One sequence late in the first half exemplified Tennessee’s frustrations. Jarnell Stokes made a defensive rebound and went the length of the court for an apparent momentum-changing dunk, but officials disallowed the basket and called a charging foul on the 6-foot-8 forward. Eleven seconds later, Warren sank a three-pointer to give the Wolfpack a 28-15 lead.

The Vols didn’t get much first-half offense from anyone other than Maymon, who had the Vols’ last seven points of the half. Maymon was the only Tennessee player to score in the final 10 minutes, 11 seconds of the first half.

Tennessee missed its first 11 shots from three-point range before McRae connected from beyond the arc with 15:39 to go. McRae, the Vols’ leading scorer this season, scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half.

The Wolfpack had blown most of an 18-point lead Saturday before squeaking out an 82-79 victory against Detroit, and they let a double-digit advantage shrink again Wednesday. Tennessee outplayed N.C. State for much of the second half and cut the Wolfpack’s lead to 48-43 on Darius Thompson’s steal and layup with 8:30 remaining.

N.C. State was still clinging to a five-point lead with less than six minutes to go when it pulled away again. Jordan Vandenberg, who battled foul trouble all evening, started a 6-0 spurt with a dunk.

The 7-foot-1 center also made some key blocks down the stretch to preserve North Carolina State’s advantage.

The Wolfpack blocked 12 shots in the game.

Warren and Lee followed Vandenberg’s dunk with baskets that returned the lead to double digits with 2:36 remaining. Tennessee wouldn’t seriously threaten again.

Tennessee had a moment of silence before the game to honor former Vols forward Dyron Nix, who died Sunday. Nix led the Southeastern Conference in scoring in 1987-88 and ranks eighth on the school’s all-time list for career points with 1,877.

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