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No. 23 NC State tops UNC Greensboro, 89-68

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No. 23 NC State tops UNC Greensboro, 89-68

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) C.J. Leslie scored 21 points and No. 23 North Carolina State pulled away to beat UNC Greensboro 89-68 on Monday.

Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown added 15 points apiece, and the Wolfpack (11-2) kept UNC Greensboro off the boards after halftime while using a timely run to break open a surprisingly tight game.

Richard Howell had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and the nation's most accurate shooting team shot 53 percent in matching its longest winning streak since 2008.

Freshman Kayel Locke had 21 points for the Spartans (2-9). The Southern Conference's top 3-point shooting team was just 2 of 17 from beyond the arc, and leading scorer Trevis Simpson - who averages 20 points - was out with an ankle injury.

Wood hit three 3-pointers in his second big New Year's Eve against UNC Greensboro. He had a then-career-high 15 points against the Spartans on the final day of 2009.

His 3 roughly 90 seconds into the second half of this one gave N.C. State its first double-figure lead at 49-38. That came during the 17-4 run that put the Wolfpack comfortably ahead for the first time.

When T.J. Warren's three-point play with 13:43 left pushed the lead to 60-42, N.C. State was well on its way to its longest winning streak since the 2007-08 team also reeled off seven straight in Sidney Lowe's second season.

Derrell Armstrong finished with 16 points and Kelvin McNeil had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans, who lost their fourth straight, fell to 1-48 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents and remained winless against them since 2007.

Still, at least early on, the Wolfpack - who entered shooting a Division I-best 53.5 percent - were rather imperfect in wrapping up a perfect six-game homestand that served as a tune-up for ACC play. The league favorites begin Jan. 5 at Boston College.

A depleted UNC Greensboro team, which at full strength was beaten by ACC rivals Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, gave N.C. State fits for virtually the entire first half.

Locke had 12 points in the opening 20 minutes while picking up the scoring slack for Simpson, after a team spokesman said he injured his right ankle earlier in the day.

The Spartans pounded the glass to keep N.C. State within sight throughout the half. The Wolfpack never led by more than eight and had zero second-chance points.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.