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Blocked shot
N.C. State tops Tech 76-71 in OT

RALEIGH, N.C. - Dennis Horner followed all the usual techniques to stay in the game while relegated to the bench: he cheered for his teammates, he followed the ebb and flow of momentum, and he stayed engaged in the huddle during timeouts.

When he finally got back on the court in overtime, he was ready.

Horner came off the bench and scored six of his eight points in the final 90 seconds of overtime to lead North Carolina State past Georgia Tech 76-71 on Saturday in a matchup of the only two winless teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Brandon Costner had 22 points and Ben McCauley added 18 for the Wolfpack (10-5, 1-2), but it was little-used Horner who made the plays at the end.

With Costner on the bench with five fouls, Horner converted a three-point play off a nifty assist from McCauley to give N.C. State the lead for good, then made 3-of-4 at the line down the stretch to secure a much-needed victory.

'I knew I just had to be ready over there on the bench when Brandon got his fourth foul,' said Horner, who had played only six minutes before Costner fouled out with 3:08 remaining in overtime. 'I knew if he got one more, I was probably going in the game. I just tried to stay poised and ready.'

Freshman Iman Shumpert scored 22 points for the Yellow Jackets (9-8, 0-4). Lewis Clinch finished with 18 points for Georgia Tech but missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation that would have won it.

'We weren't smart on a couple of situations and they capitalized,' Shumpert said. 'We get the first one, we'll be rolling. After that, you don't look back.'

The Yellow Jackets pulled away to a 10-point lead midway through the second half on the strength of a 14-0 run. Clinch did most of the damage, making a trio of 3s, and when Norcross' Gani Lawal finished off the spurt with a layup, it was 64-54.

The margin still was seven when N.C. State came back. McCauley sandwiched two baskets from in close around two free throws for Costner, and after Zach Peacock converted two free throws for Georgia Tech, Farnold Degand drove for a layup as he was fouled. His free throw tied it, and when Clinch missed, it was off to overtime.

The Yellow Jackets took a 71-69 lead on two free throws from Shumpert shortly after Costner fouled out on a charge, and those proved to their final points. Three consecutive possessions ended in turnovers, and with Horner scoring on the other end, Georgia Tech was done.

The margin still was seven when N.C. State charged back. McCauley sandwiched two baskets from in close around two free throws for Costner, and after Zach Peacock converted two free throws for Georgia Tech, Farnold Degand drove for a layup as he was fouled. His free throw tied it, and when Clinch missed, it was off to overtime.

Little did anyone know that Horner would be the star.

'When Brandon went out, I wasn't really that worried, because I know that Dennis can come in there and make plays,' McCauley said. 'I think it's a credit to all the guys on the team, they're always ready to go.'

The Yellow Jackets took a 71-69 lead on two free throws from Shumpert shortly after Costner fouled out on a charge, and those proved to their final points. Three consecutive possessions ended in turnovers, and with Horner scoring on the other end, Georgia Tech was done.

'We played a pretty good basketball game, but down the stretch, we couldn't match the physical presence of N.C. State,' Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. 'They stepped it up and became physical and we didn't respond.'

Holding on to the ball proved to be a problem for both teams, which combined for 44 turnovers (22 each). Shumpert had six and Peacock five for the Yellow Jackets, and freshman Julius Mays led the Wolfpack with six.

The problem is particularly glaring for N.C. State, since its bench is loaded with capable ball handlers: head coach Sidney Lowe and assistants Monte Towe and Justin Gainey all starred in that role during their careers with the Wolfpack. Unfortunately, their eligibility has expired, and Lowe is left to get the most out of his group.

'It was a win to be proud of,' Lowe said. 'Our guys came in ready to play, and they made the big plays. It was good to see us come out and make those plays and be aggressive.'

Lowe shook up the lineup by starting Mays and C.J. Williams - two freshmen - for the first time together in the backcourt, and the change appeared to help early.

N.C. State led by as many as four points during a tight first half before the miscues began to pile up on both sides. During one exchange, the two teams took turns throwing away the ball on inbound plays, and once Georgia Tech successfully got it in, Maurice Miller was called for a charge.

It didn't get much better, but anyone for the Wolfpack certainly wouldn't complain.

'We've gone through some tough losses, and we wanted this one more than anything,' McCauley said. 'I think it showed, guys were diving all over the floor for loose balls and getting offensive rebounds.

'It was a great feeling, it was great to see guys going the extra mile, doing the extra things. Sure enough, it paid off.'