RALEIGH – C.J. Leslie scored 21 points and No. 23 N.C. State pulled away to beat UNC Greensboro, 89-68, on Monday.
Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown added 15 points apiece, and the Wolfpack (11-2) kept UNC Greensboro off the boards after halftime while using a timely run to break open a surprisingly tight game.
Richard Howell had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and the nation’s most accurate shooting team shot 53 percent in matching its longest winning streak since 2008.
Freshman Kayel Locke had 21 points for the Spartans (2-9). The Southern Conference’s top 3-point shooting team was just 2-of-17 from beyond the arc, and leading scorer Trevis Simpson, who averages 20 points, was out with an ankle injury.
Wood hit three 3-pointers in his second big New Year’s Eve against UNC Greensboro. He had a then-career-high 15 points against the Spartans on the final day of 2009.
His 3 roughly 90 seconds into the second half of this one gave N.C. State its first double-figure lead at 49-38. That came during the 17-4 run that put the Wolfpack comfortably ahead for the first time.
When T.J. Warren’s three-point play with 13:43 to go pushed the lead to 60-42, N.C. State was well on its way to its longest winning streak since the 2007-08 team also reeled off seven straight in Sidney Lowe’s second season.
Derrell Armstrong finished with 16 points and Kelvin McNeil had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans, who lost their fourth straight, fell to 1-48 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents and remained winless against them since 2007.
Still, at least early on, the Wolfpack, which entered shooting a Division I-best 53.5 percent, were rather imperfect in wrapping up a perfect six-game homestand that served as a tune-up for ACC play. The league favorites begin Jan. 5 at Boston College.
A depleted UNC Greensboro team, which at full strength was beaten by ACC rivals Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, gave N.C. State fits for virtually the entire first half.
Locke had 12 points in the opening 20 minutes while picking up the scoring slack for Simpson, after a team spokesman said he injured his right ankle earlier in the day.
The Spartans pounded the glass to keep N.C. State within sight throughout the half. The Wolfpack never led by more than eight and had zero second-chance points.