Updated at: 01/20/2013 7:37 PM
By AARON BEARD
(AP) RALEIGH, N.C. - Freshman T.J. Warren scored 21 points while Richard Howell scored the go-ahead basket with 1:56 left to help No. 14 North Carolina State hold off Clemson 66-62 on Sunday night.
Howell finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolfpack (15-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who never trailed yet still found itself in a tight game against a league opponent that wouldn’t go away. N.C. State scored the game’s first 10 points and led by nine early in the second half.
Ultimately, the Wolfpack held on, with Howell’s three-point play breaking a tie and Scott Wood’s 5-for-6 performance at the line in the final 28 seconds helping N.C. State keep its grip on the lead.
Devin Booker scored a career-high 27 points for the Tigers (10-7, 2-3), though he didn’t score in the final 8 1/2 minutes or even get a shot in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
Rod Hall added a season-high 16 points for Clemson, including the tying three-point play with 3:37 left. The teams then traded baskets before Howell took a feed from Wood into the center of the paint while Milton Jennings jumped to block any shot from behind. Howell collected the ball and finished the layup despite the contact from Jennings, then made the ensuing free throw for the 60-57 lead.
Clemson had a final chance to tie the game, but Hall slipped as he tried to catch an inbounds pass with 8.7 seconds left. The ball went to Lorenzo Brown, who hit a free throw with 5.5 seconds on the clock to make it a two-possession game.
The Wolfpack had upset then-No. 1 Duke here last weekend for the program’s first 3-0 ACC start since the 1988-89 season, only to follow that with a 51-50 loss on a last-second basket at Maryland on Wednesday night. This performance was harder to figure considering N.C. State was the preseason favorite in the ACC and unbeaten at home this year.
N.C. State led the entire game yet was unable to put together any knockout blow on the Tigers, who kept hanging around behind Booker. Booker had 18 by halftime, though the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 3-for-24 in the opening period.
Clemson shot 41 percent for the game but went 5-for-19 from 3-point range.
N.C. State shot 45 percent but made things harder on itself by going just 14-for-23 from the foul line.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)