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State Now is your place for Wolfpack sports. Beat writer Joe Giglio has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @jwgiglio or @accnow.

Randle crosses Pack off his final list

N.C. State outlasted Duke and North Carolina in the pursuit of top recruit Julius Randle but the Wolfpack didn't make it to the finish line.

Randle, a 6-9 forward from Dallas and the No. 3 prospect in the class of 2013, has eliminated N.C. State from his final list, according to ESPN's Dave Telep.

Kentucky, Florida, Kansas and Texas made Randle's final four, according to Telep. Randle will announce his decision on ESPNU on March 20.

FSU's win Thursday helps Wolfpack's tourney chances

With a win over Virginia on Thursday night, Florida State opened the door for N.C. State to earn a bye in the ACC tournament.

N.C. State, 11-6 in the ACC, would clinch an opening-round bye with a win over FSU on Saturday. The Wolfpack would be the No. 3 seed if Duke (13-4) beats UNC (12-5) on Saturday in Chapel Hill. State would be the No. 4 seed with a win and a UNC home win on Saturday.

Three Points: Active defense, having fun and an improving profile

Three Points from N.C. State's 81-66 win over Wake Forest:

1) A new approach

Basically, N.C. State spent the first 25 games of the season trying to out-score its opponents. Given the Wolfpack's scoring firepower, that wasn't a bad strategy (the Pack went 18-7 in those games) but it also wasn't the best.

N.C. State has been a different team on defense over the past five games. The Pack has been more active with more steals, which leads to easy points in transition, and has allowed fewer points.

Pack throttles Wake, 81-66

RALEIGH N.C. State let a 16-point lead slip away at Wake Forest in January. C.J. Leslie wouldn't let that happen on Wednesday night, not in the Wolfpack's final home game of the season, not with the real season about to begin.

Leslie's 19 points and 10 rebounds helped N.C. State throttle Wake Forest 81-66 for the Pack's sixth win in seven games and third straight at home by double-digits. N.C. State (22-8, 11-6 ACC) closed out its home schedule with a 16-1 record, including an 8-1 mark in the ACC.

It was the final home game together for State's veteran quartet of Leslie, Richard Howell, Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown. Howell and Wood were honored on Senior Night and then Leslie proceeded to do the heavy lifting.

Pack picks up ugly win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA — Nothing is ever easy for N.C. State team and it wasn't on Sunday but the Wolfpack found a way to pick up a needed road win.

With 18 points from Richard Howell in the first half, and 11 from C.J. Leslie in the second half, the Wolfpack beat Georgia Tech 70-57 in another physical, deliberate, ACC basketball game best suited for Tums stockholders and amnesiacs.

The Wolfpack, as it has all season, put together a stretch brilliance, which was enough to carry it to a 14-point lead in the first half, but the Yellow Jackets jammed the tempo of the game into a grinder, like sausage into casing.

Three Points: Leslie, Purvis bounce back and the apocalypse postponed

Three Points from N.C. State's 82-64 win over Boston College:

1) Busy night for C.J. Leslie

All eyes were on the junior forward on Wednesday after his subpar performance against North Carolina and his coach's subsequent challenge.

C.J. Leslie responded with an active game, not great but perfectly acceptable in terms of production and especially in defensive and rebounding efforts.

Leslie, who had six points and six turnovers in the loss at UNC last Saturday, finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks against the Eagles. He had two turnovers in 29 minutes and one came on an offensive foul.

Purvis, Pack make short work of Eagles

RALEIGH Whatever N.C. State lacked in continuity on Wednesday night against Boston College, it made up for in variety.

Rodney Purvis scored in transition, Scott Wood made a bunch of 3-pointers and C.J. Leslie bounced back in the Wolfpack's 82-64 win over Boston College at PNC Arena.

N.C. State won its 20th game of the season, giving the Pack consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since Herb Sendek's last three teams did it from 2004 to '06.

Final ACC stretch favors Wolfpack

Despite needing to make up a game on Virginia and North Carolina, N.C. State is still in good shape to land one of the four byes in the ACC tournament.

With four games left, the Wolfpack is one of four teams vying for two spots in Friday's quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Miami (13-1) and Duke (11-3) will take the top two spots, likely in that order, which leaves two spots for UNC (9-5), Virginia (9-5), N.C. State (8-6) and Maryland (7-7).

Strong finish a bonus for Gottfried, Pack

If getting a top-four seed isn't incentive enough for N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried, a four-game winning streak to close the season would be worth $125,000 to the second-year coach.

Under the terms of Gottfried's contract, reworked after his first Wolfpack team reached the Sweet 16 last March, a 12-win ACC season is worth two months of Gottfried's base salary ($750,000).

Early spotlight games for Wolfpack, Tar Heels

North Carolina and N.C. State will both get an early turn in the 2013 college football season in the national spotlight.

In November, the Wolfpack, Tar Heels and Duke will all get a shot at each other on the field.

The ACC released the dates of the football schedule on Monday, it previously released the opponents. UNC will open the season at South Carolina on Aug. 29 on ESPN. The Tar Heels, who went 8-4 in Larry Fedora's first season in 2012, will also host another Thursday night game on ESPN.