WINSTON-SALEM -- Wake Forest hasn't lost an ACC opener under Dino Gaudio and N.C. State hasn't won one under Sidney Lowe.
That trend held form Sunday night at Joel Coliseum with the Demon Deacons handling the Wolfpack 67-59 in an ugly conference contest which was long on mistakes and short on execution.
The Deacs did enough, mostly create dunks in transition, to improve to 3-0 under Gaudio in ACC openers and 8-2 on the still-young season.
N.C. State (8-2), conversely, is 0-4 in conference openers under Sidney Lowe, with all four losses on the road.
Ish Smith (10 points) and Al-Farouq Aminu (18) led the Deacs in scoring and combined on a second-half alley-oop that typified Wake's success on offense. Smith, the 6-foot point guard, blocked a shot by Dennis Horner, a 6-9 forward, to start a fastbreak. Aminu ran with Smith, who fed him at the rim for a flush a 48-38 advantage at 12:06 in the second half.
The Wolfpack, which had cut an 11-point halftime deficit to four, couldn't get back into the game or really establish any kind of rhythm during the course of the game. Leading scorer Tracy Smith was parked on the bench for 9 minutes of the first half with two fouls and then fouled out with 5:28 left in the game, and State down 56-44. Smith finished with a 11 points in a season-low 22 minutes.
Without Smith's post presence, State resorted to a 3-point barrage which resulted in a 6-of-21 performance. Guard Javier Gonzalez hit three 3s and led the Wolfpack with 18 points.
Meanwhile, at least 10 of Wake's 26 field goals came on dunks. Senior forward David Weaver had the highlight of the first half, a reverse jam off a missed 3-pointer by Ari Stewart.
Aminu added an array of dunks in transition, mostly fed by Smith (seven assists). Without a pair of first-round picks, guard Jeff Teague and forward James Johnson, who helped Wake win 11 ACC games last year and return to the NCAA Tournament after a three-year absence, the Deacs have leaned on Aminu, a sophomore who leads the team in scoring and rebounding.
Aminu finished with 13 boards on Sunday, including six on the offensive glass, but also turned the ball over seven times.
Neither team was particularly sharp in the rare pre-Christmas ACC game. They combined to shoot 9 of 32 from 3, a staggering 23 of 42 from the free-throw line and 32 turnovers.