RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Derrick Williams scored 22 points to help Arizona beat North Carolina State 72-62 on Sunday.
Kevin Parrom added 11 points for the Wildcats (10-2), who used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to take control and beat the Wolfpack (6-4) for the second straight season. Arizona led by four at halftime and maintained that margin the entire second half, turning away several surges before holding N.C. State scoreless for 5 minutes during the decisive run.
Scott Wood had 16 points to lead the Wolfpack, who fell short in their last chance to grab a nonconference victory against a power-conference team. N.C. State was blown out at Wisconsin and played tough in a loss at Syracuse earlier this month, but this game seemed the perfect opportunity for a program still trying to get to the NCAA tournament for the first time under fifth-year coach Sidney Lowe.
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It certainly didn’t help that all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer Tracy Smith missed his eighth straight game following knee surgery. Lowe had hoped Smith would be ready to return against Arizona, but he sat on the bench wearing a red team warmup suit.
The Wolfpack’s problems went deeper than that. The Wildcats were quicker and more athletic, and as the game wore on, they repeatedly beat the stagnant Wolfpack to loose balls. In fact, N.C. State pulled to within a single basket five times in the second half only to see Arizona answer with a score on the ensuing possession four times.
N.C. State closed to 52-50 on a 3-pointer from Wood with about 10 minutes left, but that’s when the Wildcats took off. Kyryl Natyazhko answered with a jumper, then Williams went airborne to throw down an alley-oop slam in transition to push the lead back up to six. Lamont Jones followed that with a layup off a turnover and Williams hit a pair of free throws to make it 60-50.
That’s when reserve Jesse Perry (10 points, six rebounds) capped the run with a play that seemed to sum up Arizona’s edge in energy and athleticism. Jordin Mayes missed a 3, but Perry jumped in front of Wood — who appeared to be waiting for the ball to fall to him — and ripped the ball away before sticking it back in to make it 62-50 with about 7 minutes left.
That was just too big of a hole for N.C. State, which didn’t score again until Richard Howell’s two free throws with 4:36 to play and never seriously threatened to mount a comeback.
N.C. State shot just 32 percent, with freshman C.J. Leslie managing two points on 1-for-14 shooting.