RALEIGH — Jay Threatt is not Chandler Parsons.
For that N.C. State is thankful and will take its early Christmas gift in the form of a 72-70 win over Delaware State on Wednesday night.
Threatt's 45-footer at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim and then harmlessly to the floor. N.C. State sophomore Scott Wood, whose putback with 2.1 seconds left proved to be the game-winning points, could only think of Parsons, and his 75-foot buzzer-beater at the same basket to give Florida an improbable win over the Wolfpack last January.
"I thought it was in," Wood said.
So did Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe, who had a Florida flashback while Threatt's shot tracked towards the heart of the basket.
"I was thinking, 'Oh, Lord, don't do this to me again,' " Lowe said.
Instead of a loss, N.C. State got its seventh win of the season. Wood, who missed his first six shots, grabbed a missed 3-pointer by Ryan Harrow about eight feet from the basket and coolly dropped in the game-winning shot.
Wood wasn't so sure the Wolfpack deserved to beat the undersized MEAC team, which had a 9-to-1 advantage from the 3-point line.
"I feel like it's almost like a bailout for the way we won the game," Wood said of his final shot. "Really, we probably shouldn't have won the game."
The Hornets, with no starter over 6-7 and only one forward at 6-8, struggled to contain N.C. State's frontcourt. Minus senior leader Tracy Smith, the Pack found inside scoring from Richard Howell, who had a career-best 16 points, C.J. Leslie (15 points) and DeShawn Painter (14 points).
The Pack needed every hoop from its big-men-by-committee to extinguish the Hornets' upset bid. The Hornets, who lost to Maryland by 18 points and Pittsburgh by 28 earlier this season, led 65-64 with 3:46 left in the game and tied the game twice in the final 1:41.
N.C. State led 68-65 and seemed in control when Threatt nailed a 3-pointer to tie it. Leslie gave the Pack the lead back when h followed his own miss for a 70-68 lead with 1:20 left.
The Hornets tied the game on a pair of free throws by Casey Walker (20 points) with 37.6 seconds left.
The Wolfpack milked the game clock, and shot clock, down the final ticks before Harrow launched a hurried 3 from the right wing. Amidst the scrum for the ball under the basket, the long rebound bounced out to Wood near the foul line. He gathered the ball and popped it back up at the rim.
After Threatt's shot bounced off the rim there was more a sigh of relief from Lowe than enjoyment of the victory.
"I'm just glad that we won," Lowe said. "We made a lot of mistakes defensively. We got lucky that we won."
In the span of six days, Lowe has seen his team struggle with Youngstown State and Delaware State before winning both games.
Smith missed his ninth straight game with an injured left knee, which Lowe does not want to use an excuse but he thinks it has had a significant effect on how his team has played.
"It feels like a crutch, but it's a reality," Lowe said. "We're missing him. We miss him a lot."
Smith, the team's leading scorer and rebounder a season ago, was parked on the bench in a red track suit and his return is still uncertain.
Senior guard Javier Gonzalez said Smith or no Smith, State has to play better.
"We've got players," Gonzalez said. "There's no excuse. Tracy's a lot of help but that shouldn't be happening against Delaware State. It doesn't matter how many guys we've got out."
Photo: N.C. State's Scott Wood launches the game-winning shot to give the Wolfpack a 72-70 victory over Delaware State. ROBERT WILLETT - firstname.lastname@example.org