NC State beats Holy Cross 87-70

RALEIGH Tracy Smith had 19 points and Julius Mays added a season-high 15 for the slow-starting Wolfpack (11-4). They bounced back from their last-second overtime loss to Florida three nights earlier, shaking off a sluggish start with a 16-2 run early in the second half and pulling away late.

Devin Brown scored 21 points to lead Holy Cross (3-12). The Crusaders hit nearly as many 3-pointers (10) as 2-pointers (11), but managed only one field goal during the opening 5 1/2 minutes of the second half, when this game was all but decided.

Farnold Degand had 12 points and Scott Wood added 10 for the Wolfpack, who had five players crack double figures for just the second time this season. They avoided their third nonconference loss of the season at the RBC Center -- where they've never lost more than two non-ACC games since the building opened in 1999 -- by taking the lead for good midway through the first half, then taking control shortly after the break.

N.C. State came away with points on seven of nine trips, Javier Gonzalez scored five points during the run and freshman Josh Davis capped the burst with a dunk that made it 49-34 with 15 1/2 minutes left. Holy Cross didn't get closer than seven the rest of the way.

R.J. Evans had 13 points and Mike Cavataio and Andrew Beinert had 11 apiece for the Crusaders, who have lost six of seven.

The main subplot of this game was how N.C. State would respond to its crushing loss to the Gators, who won 62-61 on Chandler Parsons' 75-footer at the overtime buzzer -- a defeat coach Sidney Lowe called the toughest of his career.

For a few minutes anyway, it looked as though the Wolfpack had trouble putting that one in the past.

And even when they finally got rolling, they had trouble generating much separation against Holy Cross -- which, at least early on, barely resembled the 244th-ranked team in one unofficial replication of the RPI formula. N.C. State missed 12 of its first 15 shots, then held the Crusaders without a field goal for nearly 9 minutes during the 23-9 run midway through the half that put them up 27-19.

The schools were playing for the first time since they met in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament in 1976.

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