N.C. State scored 13 points in a row midway through the second half to take control of a back-and-forth game and beat Louisville 76-69 in ACC basketball at PNC Arena on Saturday night.
Allerik Freeman scored 16 points to lead N.C. State while Torin Dorn added 15 points. Braxton Beverly and Omer Yurtseven scored 13 points each.
The Wolfpack's strong defensive play led to the win. N.C State recorded nine steals, leading to 15 Louisville turnovers. The Cardinals shot 41.2 percent in the second half to finish at 44.6 for the game.
"That's a very good basketball team," N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said. "They are long and athletic. But we were able to force them into some bad situations. I thought our defense was as sharp as it's been in a long, long time. We were locked in on the defensive end."
Deng Adel scored a game-high 20 points for Louisville while Quintin Snider and Ray Spalding scored 12 each.
With the win, N.C. State (21-10, 11-7 ACC) heads into the ACC tournament where it will play on Wednesday, March 7 as either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed depending upon the outcome of Saturday night’s UNC-Duke game.
A Duke win would make the Wolfpack the No. 5 seed, while a UNC win would leave N.C. State as the No. 6 seed.
Louisville (19-12, 9-9) is the No. 9 seed and will also open tournament play on Wednesday.
The Cardinals and Wolfpack played a tight game in the regular-season finale as the game saw 14 lead changes and seven ties over the first 28 minutes.
The Cardinals took a 48-44 lead with 14:37 to play. At the time, that was the largest lead either team held.
N.C. State responded, though, with seven consecutive points over the next 2:19. Dorn started the spurt with a basket inside. Freeman hit two free throws and Abu split two to put N.C State up 49-48.
When the Cardinals went scoreless on their fifth possession in a row, Dorn converted a layup in transition for a 51-48 N.C. State lead with 12:03 to play.
As Louisville missed seven consecutive shots while going without a point for five minutes, 56 seconds, the Wolfpack extended its run to 13 points in a row.
A Sum Hunt 3-pointer followed by another from Beverly put N.C. State up 57-48 with 9:58 to play.
Louisville cut the N.C. State lead to 70-66 with 37.6 seconds to play, but Freeman made all six of his free throws over the final 35 seconds to seal the Wolfpack win.
Louisville shot 50 percent in the first half. But because the Cardinals turned the ball over 11 times, N.C. State took 10 more shots than Louisville.
Despite shooting 38 percent, the Wolfpack led 33-32 at halftime.
N.C. State’s pressure defense allowed it to lead even with its poor shooting. The Wolfpack recorded nine first-half steals.
Adel scored 11 points over the game’s first 11 minutes, allowing the Cardinals to build a 22-18 lead. But Louisville turned the ball over on six of its next eight possessions, scoring just two points during that five-minute stretch.
Freeman’s driving layup with 4:36 left in the half gave N.C. State a 26-24 lead.
After the Cardinals tied the game at 30 on a V.J. King layup, Freeman drilled a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left in the half for a 33-30 N.C. State lead.