Originally created 02/03/03

Tigers fall to N.C. State



RALEIGH, N.C. -- For the second time in a week, Julius Hodge overcame a slow first half for a strong finish.

Hodge had 18 of his 20 points in the second half Sunday while Josh Powell scored 17 on 8-for-8 shooting as the Wolfpack beat Clemson 78-56.

Marcus Melvin added 15 points for the Wolfpack (12-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for the fourth straight time in the series. N.C. State, which was coming off a 75-60 loss at Maryland on Thursday, jumped to an early double-figure lead against the Tigers (11-6, 1-6) and was never seriously threatened.

Hodge had two points on 1-for-5 shooting with three turnovers in the first half, but went 6-for-7 after the break. In last week's 86-77 win against North Carolina, Hodge scored 23 of his career-high 30 points in the second half.

"Today in the first half, it wasn't my 'A' game," Hodge said. "In the first half, I was really careless with the ball and I let guys strip me. I wasn't playing my game. In the second half, I made a conscious effort of that."

Hodge opened the second half by hitting his first four shots, including a 3-pointer off a crosscourt pass from Scooter Sherrill at the 18:10 mark. His layup along the right baseline 90 seconds later gave the Wolfpack a 43-30 lead.

Once Hodge got going, the Wolfpack offense settled into rhythm. N.C. State pushed to a 52-36 lead on four straight points from Powell, the last bucket coming off a feed from Hodge on a fast break with 13:07 left.

The Tigers twice pulled to within 11 points only to see the Wolfpack answer. Hodge provided one of the momentum-killers, hitting a 3 from the top of the key for a 61-47 lead with 8:17 left. He added a 3-pointer from the left wing with the shot clock winding down for a 69-52 lead with 5:05 to play.

With Hodge leading the way, N.C. State hit 17 of 25 shots in the second half and finished the game shooting 57 percent. That included a 14-for-31 effort from behind the 3-point arc.

"I think he realizes for us to grow and get where we need to be, he has to play great for us," said Sherrill, who had 11 points. "If he has a bad first half, he thinks about it at halftime and tries to come out with even more energy and concentrate even harder."

Powell, who was questionable for the game after suffering a bruised left hip in the loss to the Terrapins, went 6-for-6 in the second half. He hit two shots late in the game with the shot clock winding down, including a 3-pointer that gave the Wolfpack a 20-point lead with 1:59 to play.

"I thought we had a hand up (against their shooters), especially in those end-of-clock shots at the end of the game," Tigers coach Larry Shyatt said. "But time and time again they made some great shots, shots that came from people we weren't expecting them to come from."

The Wolfpack played unselfishly, getting 24 assists on 29 field goals and moving the ball effectively against Clemson's zone defense. They also committed just two second-half turnovers after tallying 10 in the first half.

"It was the passing as much as the guy making the shot," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek said. "I thought we just did a good job of looking for each other and hitting the open man and playing together."

Edward Scott scored 12 points to lead Clemson, which shot 50 percent but committed 17 turnovers. The Tigers have lost four straight games and six of eight since starting the season 9-0.

The Wolfpack started quickly, getting 3-pointers from Sherrill on its first two possessions. N.C. State hit five of its first seven shots, taking a 13-2 lead on a 3 from Melvin.

But the Wolfpack went scoreless for the next 4 1/2 minutes, allowing Clemson to score six unanswered points. Melvin ended that run with a four-point play, followed by another 3 from Sherrill for a 20-8 lead midway through the half.

N.C. State maintained its double-digit lead until the final seconds of the first half. The Tigers closed the half with five straight points, ending with Chris Hobbs' putback of Scott's missed free throw, to pull to 32-24 at halftime.