North Carolina State's Caleb Martin, left, looks for help from the defense of Louisvile's Chris Jones during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 in Louisville, Ky. NC State won 74-65. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Timothy D. Easley
February 14, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Cat Barber's surging self-assuredness could be the catalyst that alters the course of North Carolina State's season.

It was, at least, enough to spark Saturday's 74-65 win over No. 9 Louisville, the Wolfpack's second win against a top 10 conference opponent this year.

''My confidence keeps getting higher and higher,'' Barber said after scoring 21 points, his third 20-point effort in the last four games. ''Coaches keep telling me, `Be me. Be Cat and do what Cat does best.' I think I've taken that under consideration.''

The sophomore point guard had no turnovers in a 51-47 loss three days ago to No. 2 Virginia and had just two late turnovers Saturday that coach Mark Gottfried chalked up to fatigue.

''Against their pressure, I though Cat was sensational,'' Gottfried said.

N.C. State (15-11, 6-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) had lost five of its last six, with all but one of those losses coming by five or fewer points. The tough defeats have worn on the Wolfpack, but Gottfried saw a different look from his players as they clung to a lead against the Cardinals, a sign that Barber may not be alone in his growth.

''I thought today we had that look in our eye that we were going to win the game - that confidence,'' Gottfried said.

The Wolfpack held Louisville to 33 percent shooting and dominated near the basket, outscoring the Cardinals 32-16 in the paint, in a total team performance not seen since N.C. State beat Duke on Jan. 11.

''We got dominated at all five positions tonight,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.

Trevor Lacey had 14 points and Ralston Turner 10 for N.C. State.

Chris Jones scored 20 and Wayne Blackshear added 19 for Louisville (20-5, 8-4 ACC).

Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell, Louisville's leading scorers, combined for just 14 points after totaling 50 in Wednesday's 69-56 win against Pittsburgh.

N.C. State outrebounded Louisville 47-37 with Caleb Martin and Beejay Anya each grabbing 10. Harrell, a preseason All-America, had 13 rebounds but was scoreless in the first half and finished with seven points.

''You hear around the country, `Harrell is a beast on the glass, (his) putback dunks, all these things,''' Lacey said. ''We just stepped up and took the challenge.''

Rozier, the ACC's leading scorer at 18.5 points a game, finished with a season-low seven points and fouled out with 4:56 to play.

Harrell's hook shot with 14:10 remaining gave Louisville a 43-41 lead before Kyle Washington responded with the same and Lacey's 3 with 13:27 put N.C. State up for good at 46-43.

Jones' steal and layup on the other end pulled Louisville to within 57-52 with 7:06 to play before the Cardinals missed nine straight shots.

The Wolfpack led 63-53 at the 4:11 mark and had just five turnovers before committing three in 39 seconds to give Louisville a chance.

Blackshear's jumper with 1:20 left cut the lead to 65-61. Barber found Anya for a dunk on the next possession and hit seven of eight free throws attempts in the last minute to seal the win.

TIP-INS

N.C. State: Have lost four games this season by four or fewer points, second-most in the ACC.

Louisville: The Cardinals led 31-30 at the break. Louisville fell to 78-2 in the last three years when leading at halftime. The Cardinals' last loss when leading at halftime came in last year's round of 16 to Kentucky.

CHAMPS RETURN

Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng and Memphis Grizzlies guard Russ Smith sat courtside for the game. Both were key contributors on Louisville's 2013 national title-winning squad.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: Hosts Virginia Tech on Feb. 21.

Louisville: Heads to Syracuse on Wednesday.

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