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NC State advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1998 after a 77-66 upset win over Texas on Sunday. It was a big day for the Wolfpack as a whole, but junior guard Aziaha James made the loudest statement.

James recorded 27 points while registering a new tournament-high for NC State with seven 3-pointers -- yes, despite the 3-point line controversy in Portland

"Just shows a lot about myself, just never giving up," James said postgame. "People didn't know my name my freshman year, but you know my name now, so you see how I've grown."

James has certainly come a long way from her first college basketball season, when she averaged less than 10 minutes in the 25 games she appeared. She contributed 4.2 points per game as a freshman, improving to an average of 6.8 points her sophomore year as her playing time nearly doubled. 

But this year James became a full-time starter, and she's making the most of it by averaging a team-high 16.7 points per game. James has had some great offensive games -- including scoring 33 points against Duke in January -- but she has elevated to another level when it matters most, averaging over 24 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. 

When asked what has led to James playing her best basketball right now, NC State coach Wes Moore joked he wasn't exaclty sure. 

"Heck if I know. I wish I'd have bottled it up sooner," Moore said with a laugh. "Her confidence, it's like a coming-out party. I think right now the goal looks a little bigger. And, obviously, we're going to her."

James was on the NC State team that made the Sweet 16 in 2022, but she did not see the court back then. Sticking with it has paid off big time, and Moore is grateful for her patience and commitment to grow within the program.

"I'm used to seeing kids develop, and Aziaha is an unbelievable example," Moore said. " ... She's worked so hard over the summer. And like I said, her confidence. She used to maybe hang her head if things didn't go well, if a shot didn't go in, if I got on her. 

"But now she is a woman. And she handles adversity and keeps coming back."