Quick hits and notes from No. 19 NC State's 58-55 loss at Virginia in front of 10,977 fans at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on Tuesday night.
Play of the game
Virginia, who never led by more than three points in the game, held a tenuous 56-55 advantage as the clock ticked under a minute to go. They survived a missed three-pointer from Wolfpack freshman guard Rodney Purvis, and the rebound had gone untouched out of bounds.
NC State decided to play for a defensive stop, but with the shot clock winding down and Purvis chasing UVa senior guard Jontel Evans around the court, Purvis was whistled for a hand check while trying to get a five-second count on Evans. Evans, who at that point had made just 3 of 11 free throws this year and was a career 57.7 percent foul shooter, stepped to the line and made both shots in a one-and-one with 26.1 seconds left.
That forced NC State to change its approach on the next possession, and the Pack was unable to get a clean look at the basket.
Highlight of the game
There were co-highlights of the game. Virginia junior power forward Akil Mitchell had a thunderous dunk on Wolfpack junior forward C.J. Leslie, getting fouled in the process for a three-point play that cut State's lead to 31-24 with 1:03 left in the first half.
Leslie countered by taking the in bounds pass from freshman T.J. Warren, going around Virginia freshman forward Evan Nolte with a dribble drive and finishing with a one-handed dunk.
Player of the game
Virginia got winning performances from three players, but the standout was junior wing Joe Harris, one of the most underrated players in the ACC. Harris made 7 of 15 shots, including 3 of 8 three-pointers, for a game-high 22 points. That matched Harris' season-high and was two off his career-high set as a freshman at Minnesota. The 22 points were three better than Harris previous ACC-best of 19 done three times, most recently in a win over UNC Jan. 6.
Virginia big men hard to handle
It's been a bit of a disturbing trend for NC State lately: guarding interior players. Mitchell had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the win. That was Mitchell's seventh double-double of the year and eighth of his career. He set a new personal league-high in rebounds in a game, topping the 11 in the aforementioned UNC game.
Freshman center Mike Tobey had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks off the bench. That matched Tobey's career-high in rebounding (he also had seven at Wake Forest Jan. 9) and blocks (he also had three against Mississippi Valley State Dec. 8).
This comes after Clemson's Devin Booker (27 points) and Wake Forest's[/db]Devon Thomas[/db] (25 points, 14 rebounds) set career-highs in scoring.
Shining for NC State
Although he matched his career-high set against UNC for turnovers with seven, you have to admire the effort Leslie played with Tuesday evening. He did not start because of flu-like symptoms, but he stepped up off the bench when needed and had 20 points and 14 rebounds in the loss. He was the lone NC State player to make at least half of his shots, going 7 of 13 from the field.
This was the first time this season Leslie had not started the game, and it snapped his streak of 39 straight starts. Speaking of starting, senior wing Scott Wood made his 122nd career start, and is three away from Julius Hodge's school-record of 125 starts.
The double-double for Leslie was the fifth of the year and 15th of his career. Senior Richard Howell had his eighth straight doule-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a team-high six assists, which was a career-high for him. Howell, who has had double-digit rebounds in every ACC game this season, has 13 double-doubles this year and 26 in his career.
Howell has nine straight games with double-digit rebounding totals, the most since Tommy Burleson had 10 in 1972-73. Howell also became the sixth player in school history to have 1,000 career points and 900 career rebounds.
Purvis, who played extended minutes at point guard in the absence of junior guard Lorenzo Brown after Brown turned his ankle 10 minutes into the game, made just 2 of 7 shots for six points.
Warren, making just his third career start, struggled as well, making just 1 of 7 shots and finishing with three points. He also had four fouls while struggling to guard Harris at times in the second half.
Taking out Howell and Leslie however, the whole team did not shoot well. The rest of the eight players that saw time against Virginia went a combined 8 of 30 from the field for 26.7 percent.
Overall, NC State shot 37.7 percent, its third worst shooting performance of the year.
What the loss means
NC State fell to 16-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. Virginia improved to 15-5 and 5-2 in conference action and overtook NC State for second place in the league.
NC State's lead in the all-time series against the Cavs is 81-59. Virginia though holds a decisive 38-23 edge in games played on their homecourt, and the Wolfpack has yet to win in the John Paul Jones Arena.
The Pack closed the month of January with a 5-3 mark, all the games being ACC contest. NCSU is just 1-3 in midweek conference games and continue their struggle on the road, dropping to 1-4 for the season.
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded North Carolina 38-33 overall and 10-7 on the offensive glass. That led to a 10-6 second-chance advantage.
- Virginia outscored NCSU in the paint 30-26.
- Virginia decisively won the turnover margin 14-8 and used that to get a 14-4 edge in points off turnovers.
- With Leslie coming off the bench, the Pack's reserves outscored Virginia's 23-15.