RALEIGH, N.C. — C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell wanted this moment, the chance to help No. 20 North Carolina State make a big step forward after a bumpy start to a season filled with potential.
Now, after a rousing performance to take down No. 1 Duke, the duo has put the Wolfpack back on everyone’s radar.
Leslie scored 25 points, including six straight during a key second-half run, to help N.C. State beat the Blue Devils 84-76 on Saturday.
Howell added 16 points and 18 rebounds in a relentless performance for the Wolfpack (14-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) in a matchup of the teams predicted to finish 1-2 in the league.
“Coach (Mark Gottfried) said in the locker room: Nobody’s going to give us anything and we’ve got to take it," Howell said. “That’s the mindset we came out with. We’ve got to take everything ... and that’s what we did."
N.C. State was picked for the first time in nearly four decades to win the league, though two early losses drained some buzz.
No longer. Any lowered expectations are gone along with Duke’s perfect record.
“I thought our guys, they accepted the challenge," Gottfried said. “It’s one of those (games) where it comes to a point where mentally you say, ‘I’m going to get it done’ and they’re not going to go away. ... They’re not going to lay down for us. Our guys mentally showed a lot of toughness."
It was N.C. State’s first win against the No. 1-ranked team since beating Duke here in February 2004 and its sixth overall.
Also on Saturday:
No. 3 Louisville 64
South Florida 38
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Peyton Siva scored 17 points and Louisville held South Florida to a season-low 27 percent shooting for an easy victory.
No. 5 Indiana 88
No. 8 Minnesota 81
INDIANAPOLIS — Victor Oladipo had 20 points and six rebounds and Jordan Hulls knocked down four 3-pointers, helping Indiana hold off Minnesota’s late charge.
No. 6 Kansas 60
Texas Tech 46
LUBBOCK, Texas — Kevin Young scored 14 points and Kansas beat Texas Tech for the Jayhawks’ 13th straight win.
No. 7 Syracuse 72
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — C.J. Fair had 22 points, Trevor Cooney hit a pair of 3-pointers to punctuate a late surge and Syracuse beat Villanova.
No. 10 Missouri 49
OXFORD, Miss. — Murphy Holloway scored 22 points, Jarvis Summers added 12 and Mississippi cruised to a victory over Missouri.
No. 11 Florida 74
BATON ROUGE, La. — Kenny Boynton scored 20 points and Florida used a 31-6 run across the halves to rout LSU.
No. 12 Illinois 51
MADISON, Wis. — Jared Berggren scored 15 points and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds, and Traevon Jackson added a career-best 14 points to lead Wisconsin over Illinois.
No. 14 Butler 79
DAYTON, Ohio — Roosevelt Jones scored 16 points and Butler extended its best start in four years by beating Dayton for its 11th straight victory despite losing its top scorer to injury.
No. 16 San Diego State 79
Colorado State 72
SAN DIEGO — Chase Tapley scored 12 of his 19 points in overtime, including two 3-pointers and a layup off a steal, and San Diego State held off Colorado State.
No. 17 Notre Dame 58
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Shabazz Napier scored 19 points, Tyler Olander scored 12 of his career-high 16 points in the second half and Connecticut ended the game with a 7-0 run to beat Notre Dame, ending a 12-game winning streak by the Fighting Irish.
No. 18 Kansas State 65
West Virginia 64
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Shane Southwell made two free throws with 21 seconds left, then blocked Gary Browne’s layup attempt with a second left to preserve Kansas State’s win over West Virginia.
No. 19 Georgetown 67
St. John’s 51
NEW YORK — Otto Porter had 19 points and a season-high 14 rebounds and Georgetown broke out of its scoring funk with a victory over St. John’s.
No. 21 Cincinnati 68
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Cashmere Wright scored 23 points and Cincinnati snapped a two-game losing streak and stayed unbeaten on the road with a victory over Rutgers.
No. 24 UNLV 76
Air Force 71
LAS VEGAS — Bryce Dejean-Jones made a go-ahead jumper with 12 seconds remaining in overtime, and UNLV held on to beat Air Force in its Mountain West Conference home opener.
No. 25 New Mexico 72
Fresno State 45
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alex Kirk had 19 points and a career-high 14 rebounds and New Mexico played without leading scorer Kendall Williams for disciplinary reasons in a rout over Fresno State.