Quick hits and notes from NC State's 69-58 loss at Virginia Tuesday evening in front of 8,930 fans at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.
Play of the game
It was the final play of the decisive 16-0 run to start the game for Virginia. NC State senior guard Javier Gonzalez was holding the ball near midcourt while trying to set the offense, when UVA redshirt junior guard Sammy Zeglinski reached out and swiped the ball away from Gonzalez. Zeglinski beat Gonzalez to the ball and had a clean breakaway lay-up to give Virginia a stunning 16-0 lead with 15:42 still remaining in the first half.
Highlight of the game
NC State had crawled back into the game and was trailing just 25-21 with 4:21 left when Virginia senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan went around a screen on the right wing to get by his defender, freshman guard Lorenzo Brown. Brown was late to recover, and Farrakhan easily blew past sophomore center Jordan Vandenberg. Behind Vandenberg was nothing but a clear path to the basket. Farrakhan skied for a dunk to give the Cavs a 27-21 lead.
Player of the game
The only reason why senior forward Will Sherrill, a former walk-on, started was because it was senior day. He had not started a game for the Cavs since Jan. 19 at Boston College, and he was averaging just 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest this year.
Against NC State, Sherrill started the game by making back-to-back three-pointers, providing an emotional and energetic lift to the Cavs that NC State did not match. Sherrill finished with a season-high 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, including 4 of 5 from three-point range. That was the first time in Sherrill's career that he scored in double figures in an ACC contest.
Sherrill also added eight rebounds, another season high and three more than his previous ACC best, which ironically came last season against NC State.
Harris also lights it up
Sherrill was not the only Virginia Cavalier to set a new personal best for scoring in a conference game. Freshman wing and sharpshooter Joe Harris went 4 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 7 threes, and connected on seven free throw attempts for 19 points, one more than Harris scored Feb. 5 at Miami. The 19 points matched Harris' second best career output. He also scored 19 against Washington Nov. 22. His career-high is 24 against Minnesota Nov. 29.
Harris and Sherrill led the way for the Wahoos, who live and die by the three-point shot offensively. Virginia made 10 of 21 three-pointers against NC State for 47.6 percent. The Cavs was just 11 of 32, or 34.4 percent, from inside the arc.
This was the eighth time this season that Virginia made at least 10 three-point shots in a game. Their season-high was 16 against Howard Jan. 4. Their conference-high was 11, done three times this season. It was just the second time this season NC State allowed at least 10 three-pointers in a game. Wisconsin made 11 Dec. 1.
Big game for Javi
After his inauspicious start when Zeglinski stole the ball out of his hands for a fast break lay-up, Gonzalez calmed down and played easily his best game of the season. He scored a season-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and added four assists with just two turnovers in 25 minutes. Gonzalez's previous season-best was 11 points done twice this year. He had scored in double figures just three times all year.
Gonzalez was much more effective than the starter, freshman Ryan Harrow. Harrow missed all four shot attempts, including a pair of three-pointers, and was scoreless and had zero assists in 15 minutes. That was just the second time this season Harrow had failed to score a point in a game, and the first time that he had neither a point or assist in a contest.
Harrow though was not the only starter that struggled. Freshman forward C.J. Leslie made just 2 of 5 shots and 3 of 4 free throws for seven points to go with four rebounds in 19 minutes. Senior forward Tracy Smith, NC State's leading scorer, did not score a field goal until 17:36 left in the game. He finished 3-of-4 shooting and made all four free throws for 10 points to go with three rebounds in 18 minutes.
The four shot attempts for Smith were the second fewest in a game this year behind when he shot once against East Carolina Nov. 18 before injuring his knee. Four of his 10 points came in the final minute when the game was decided. Smith also had a game-high five turnovers.
According to sportswriter Patrick Stevens, NC State's starters were badly outscored in the game. Leslie led the way in the dubious category with a minus-26, while Smith was minus-22 and Harrow minus-20. Sophomore wing Scott Wood was minus-21 and Brown was minus-17.
Off the bench, junior wing C.J. Williams was plus-16, sophomore forward Richard Howell was plus-15, Vandenberg was plus-11 and Gonzalez plus-9.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 15-14 on the year and 5-10 in the ACC. Virginia improves to 15-14 and 6-9 in the league. The Cavs are now alone in eighth place while the Pack is in 10th. Miami is half-game behind the Cavs and a half-game ahead of State. Miami hosts Maryland Wednesday night.
NC State closes the regular season Sunday evening by hosting Florida State. Virginia will host Maryland Saturday afternoon. Miami finishes up at Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon.
The defeat ensures NC State of its fifth straight season with at least 10 losses in conference action. Virginia's sixth conference win is the most for the Cavs in ACC play since they won 11 in 2007.
NC State leads the overall series with Virginia 80-57. Virginia has a 37-23 edge in games played in Charlottesville and is 4-0 in the new John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia swept the series last year against State and has won six of the last eight games versus the Pack.
Other stats of note
- NC State outrebounded Virginia 34-32 overall and had an 11-10 edge in second chance points despite the Cavs having a 10-9 advantage on the offensive glass.
- The Pack outscored the Wahoos 22-18 in the paint, 6-5 on the fast break and 23-4 off the bench.
- Virginia won the turnover margin 15-9 and had a 19-16 advantage in points off turnovers.