RALEIGH — N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried always says nothing comes easy in the ACC.
Nothing was easy about No. 14 N.C. State's 66-62 win over Clemson on Sunday night.
With a late surge from senior Richard Howell, and free throws by Scott Wood, the Wolfpack finally put the Tigers away after a gutsy effort from Devin Booker, who had a career-best 27 points.
Howell's three-point play with 1:56 left broke a 57-57 tie. Howell also scored State's previous three points.
Wood made five of six free throws in the final 27.9 seconds to provide the winning margin for State (15-3), which improved to 4-1 in the ACC.
N.C. State guard Lorenzo Brown stole the ball from Rod Hall on an inbounds pass with 5.5 seconds left to prevent any last-second theatrics from the Tigers.
Booker kept Clemson in the game and then Hall pulled the Tigers even with 3:37 left in the game.
Hall scored eight straight points for the Tigers, his three-point play evened the game at 54.
N.C. State had led by nine earlier in the second half, with freshman forward T.J. Warren (21 points) as its main source of offense.
Howell's dunk with 2:40 left gave the Wolfpack a 57-54 advantage. Howell also made a free throw on the Pack's previous possession to break the first tie of the second half.
Clemson forward Milton Jennings knotted the game at 57 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
But the Tigers (10-7, 2-3 ACC) had no answer for Howell.
Warren and Rodney Purvis struggled in the Wolfpack's loss at Maryland on Wednesday.
The duo found their form against Clemson. Warren had 14 points and Purvis had nine in the first half to give the Pack a 34-26 lead at the half.
Warren was 0 of 6 and Purvis was 1 of 7 in Wednesday's 51-50 loss at Maryland. Purvis made his first three 3-pointers as the Pack jumped out to a 13-2 lead.
Booker had 18 points in the first half and made 9 of 12 shots for Clemson, which had won two straight ACC games. The rest of Clemson's lineup was 3 of 24 in the first half.
State scored the first 10 points of the game and led 10-0 and 28-18 with 4:31 left in the half.
Warren scored 10 straight points for State at one point and the last four of the half. His layup with 33.9 seconds left came after Brown double-teamed Booker in the post and forced a turnover.
Booker had the last bucket of the half, a putback, to make it 34-26.