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Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 10:12 PM EST
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Clemson 60, (18) No Carolina St 55

CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- North Carolina State had trouble handling its biggest win of the season.

The 18th-ranked Wolfpack had a five-game winning streak snapped as they stumbled to a 60-55 loss to Atlantic Coast Conference foe Clemson, which got 20 points from Shawan Robinson.

North Carolina State (16-6, 9-3 ACC) was coming off Sunday's rousing 78-74 victory over Duke. That pulled the Wolfpack within one game of the first-place Blue Devils and also vaulted them into the coaches' poll for the first time.

"If we would've lost to Duke, this wouldn't have been an easy game," Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek insisted. "I thought our preparation for this game was tremendous and our mind-set was great."

But Sendek's team came out shooting poorly, turning in a dismal 23 percent (7-of-31) effort in the first half. Clemson (10-13, 3-9), which was in last place in the conference, built a 25-19 halftime lead.

Robinson, a Raleigh native, was the key to the Tigers' offensive attack as he made 6-of-9 shots and drilled three 3-pointers. He combined for just 11 points in his previous two games.

The Wolfpack finished 6-of-37 from the arc. It fell four attempts shy of a season high, set in a 76-72 victory over Georgia Tech on January 24.

"I thought that we guarded them fairly well," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We were able to take away their 3-point shots, we were able to contest on every shot."

The Tigers closed the half on an 11-5 run to take the lead for good. They took their biggest advantage, 47-33, on Chey Christie's layup with 5:28 remaining.

The Wolfpack staged a final rally and pulled within 52-46 on Scooter Sherrill's follow shot with 1:21 left. But Clemson drained 8-of-12 at the line over the final 65 seconds to secure the win.

"We did an excellent job on defense," Purnell said. "We limited them to 30 percent shooting from the floor and 16 percent from 3-point range."

Hodge led N.C. State with 15 points, but Marcus Melvin added 12 on 4-of-16 shooting. Melvin, Sherrill and freshman Engin Atsur - the Wolfpack's top three shooters - were 4-of-21 from the arc.

"They played us well," Sendek said. "We had a hard time putting the ball in the basket. Our guys continued to battle, but it just wasn't our night."

Clemson ended a six-game skid against N.C. State.

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