North Carolina State celebrated, and rightfully so, when they were announced as part of the 2012 Field of 68. Step two was proving that they belonged there.
And, with a 66-63 win over third-seeded Georgetown on Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio, they’re doing just that.
Forward CJ Leslie had his second strong game of the NCAA tournament, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Troubles at the foul line kept the game close in the final minute, but an ill-advised shot by Georgetown freshman Otto Porter preserved a two-point NC State lead with 10 seconds remaining.
Lorenzo Brown made 3 of 4 free throws in the final 10 seconds and finished with 14 points and seven assists, while Jason Clark’s miss on a contested three at the buzzer allowed NC State to advance to the Sweet 16.
The eleventh-seeded Wolfpack were subjected to Georgetown’s pace early in the first half, but with Georgetown center Henry Sims forced to sit with two fouls, NC State began to turn up the tempo, going on a 15-2 run to end the half and take control.
Georgetown was able to work its way back in the second half to pull to within three, but struggled through a shooting drought that kept the Wolfpack in front.
NC State survived its own scoring slump that spanned five minutes down the stretch in the second half.
For Georgetown, this is the fourth NCAA tournament exit at the hands of a double-digit seed in its last four appearances.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Mark Gottfried has navigated his team from a squad that had to play their way in to the NCAA tournament, to now a Sweet 16 team and a dangerous matchup, as they move ahead.
The Wolfpack play the winner of Kansas and Purdue in the next round but, regardless of the outcome, success has come a year early at NC State.