WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Despite shooting 56 percent from the field, North Carolina State couldn't stop its slide in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Wolfpack committed 20 turnovers, were outrebounded by six and outscored from the line, 35-10, in an 85-74 loss to sixth-ranked Wake Forest.
"They (Wake Forest) do a tremendous job of rebounding," North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek said. "We shot a high percentage. They attack. That is one of those components. They do a great job at the foul line. They don't let you off the hook when you do foul them."
Justin Gray scored 18 points and Eric Williams added 15 and seven rebounds as the Demon Deacons (20-3, 8-2 ACC) reached the 20-win plateau for the fourth straight season and sent the Wolfpack to their fourth loss in five games.
Chris Paul had 13 points, eight assists and five steals for Wake Forest, which improved to 8-2 in conference play - tied with Duke and North Carolina atop the ACC standings.
"It's important (to be tied for first place in the ACC). This is the best conference in the country," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. "I know a lot of attention goes to Duke and North Carolina. We're like those guys chasing Butch and Sundance. They know who we are. They know we aren't going anywhere. It's a challenge to us and it is important to us."
It was the first time in four games that the Demon Deacons won when allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent from the floor, and it was the highest shooting percentage by a foe since Duke shot 63 percent nearly three years ago.
"Even though they shot 56 percent for the game, we tried to keep them from making under 10 threes and we did that," said Prosser, whose club held the Wolfpack to 9-of-22 from the arc. "We also forced 20 turnovers. I don't think that our defense was that deplorable. They're a good team, and there are no off nights in the ACC. To have 20 wins at this point with our schedule is an accomplishment."
Julius Hodge, who didn't start because he was late for a second team function this season, scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half and shot 10-of-13 overall for North Carolina State (13-10, 3-7). NC State could have used a quality road win for its NCAA resume but dropped to 1-4 against ranked opponents instead.
"We tried to put as much pressure on him as possible," Paul said. "His drive never stops. Everything tonight was layups and free throws. It's kind of crazy when you know that's what he wants to do and he still does it. I guess that's a sign of a good player."
Despite shooting 59 percent (13-of-22) in the first half, the Wolfpack trailed, 48-32, at the break. Wake Forest shot 52 percent (15-of-29), got 16 points off 10 NC State turnovers and held a 14-2 edge at the line.
The Wolfpack kept up the hot shooting in the second half and pulled within 68-63 on a 3-pointer by Ilian Evtimov with 7 1/2 minutes left. At that point, NC State was shooting 62 percent for the game. But Gray hit two free throws and Williams scored four points to rebuild the advantage to 11 with five minutes left.
"Our guys played well in the second half," Sendek said. "We put ourselves behind the eight-ball with early turnovers which led to easy baskets. We cut it to six and had a couple of turnovers and they got it back to a comfortable lead."
Wake Forest senior guard Taron Downey hit all four of his 3-point attempts and scored 14 points to surpass the 1,000-point mark in his career.
"He (Downey) always (makes the big shots)," Prosser said. "He's so dependable. I feel extremely confident with him in the game in so many areas. I have supreme confidence in him. He led us to an ACC regular season championship two years ago."
Evtimov scored 14 points and Jordan Collins added 11 for North Carolina State. Wolfpack junior guard Cameron Bennerman, who had missed the last four games with a sprained ligament in his left elbow, returned and scored six points in 22 minutes.
The Demon Deacons improved to 12-0 at Lawrence Joel Coliseum this season and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Wolfpack.