Quick hits and notes from NC State's 77-69 loss to Virginia Tech in front of 15,945 fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh Wednesday night.
Play of the game
The Wolfpack were rallying from a 15-point deficit at 59-44 with 8:30 left to go in the game by going on a 15-6 run over the next five minutes to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 65-59 after Wolfpack sophomore wing Scott Wood hit two of three free throws with 3:35 left. NC State played hard defense for about 25 seconds on Virginia Tech's next possession, but the Hokies senior duo of guard Malcolm Delaney and center Jeff Allen made the clutch play. Delaney assisted Allen with a feed in the post, and Allen made a hook shot in the lane with 3:06 left on the clock to give Virginia Tech a crucial basket and 67-59 lead.
Highlight of the game
NC State senior guard Javier Gonzalez only scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting, but his final basket was a memorable one. Gonzalez drove the lane and threw up an off balance, left-handed prayer of a runner while falling to the baseline and somehow the shot banked in. Unfortunately for NC State, Gonzalez was whistled for a technical foul immediately afterward when he knocked the ball out of the Virginia Tech inbound passer's hands. That's the second straight game Gonzalez has received a technical foul.
Player of the game
This was a team effort for Virginia Tech, so several Hokies are deserving of the award. We give the slight edge though to Allen, who stood tall in the lane and finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Allen now has 38 career double-doubles, the most of any active ACC player, with Maryland sophomore center Jordan Williams next on the list at 26. The only negative in Allen's performance was his four turnovers while the rest of the Hokies combined had a total of two.
Kudos also go to Delaney, who finished with a workman-like and game-high 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field and four assists with just one turnover. Delaney's 20 points give him exactly 2,000 for his career. He is fourth all-time in Virginia Tech school history in scoring. He'll need 137 more points to pass Dale Solomon into third place all-time.
Allen reached a milestone himself. He needed just two points to become the 16th player at Virginia Tech to reach 1,500 career points. He also now has 982 career rebounds, five away from passing Allan Bristow for fourth all-time at Virginia Tech.
Someone rebound, please
NC State was down 34-21 at halftime at North Carolina in Chapel Hill last Saturday because they were crushed 34-18 on the boards in the first half, and the Heels had a plus-13 advantage in second chance points. The Hokies clearly saw that on tape when reviewing NC State. Virginia Tech made a conscious effort to attack the boards, especially on the offensive glass.
In the first half the Hokies had a staggering 27-12 edge in rebounding, including 14-4 on the offensive glass. Virginia Tech had more offensive rebounds in the first half than NC State had total boards. The Hokies rebounded 14 of their 21 misses, and they had a decisive 19-4 edge in second chance points. That resulted in a halftime score of 39-26 in favor of Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech finished with a 46-35 edge in rebounding and 19-13 on the offensive boards. That was the third best total rebounding margin of the year for Virginia Tech. They had a 23-14 advantage in second-chance points.
This was the fifth straight game and sixth out of the last seven that NC State has been outrebounded. NC State's leading rebounder Wednesday night was freshman forward C.J. Leslie, who had a total of six. Virginia Tech had two players, Allen and junior center Victor Davila with 13, that had at least 11 rebounds. That represented a new career-high in rebounding for Davila.
Were there some positives?
NC State only turned the ball over six times, which represented the fewest turnovers all year for the Pack. Kudos should also be given to the Pack for not quitting. The effort was noticeably better as the second half rolled along. Leslie also broke out of a recent slump with 18 points, making 7 of 11 shots. He had scored just 17 points in his last three games combined.
Spotted at the game
The contingent from Word of God Academy of senior center Joseph Uchebo, a Wolfpack signee, and junior guard Torian Graham and junior forward T.J. Warren, both Wolfpack targets, were behind the Wolfpack bench.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 12-10 on the year and 2-6 in the ACC. The Pack has lost six of its last seven games, and they are alone in 10th place in the ACC after Virginia's upset of Miami Wednesday night improved the Cavs to 3-5 in league play. NC State is one game up in the win column on Wake Forest and Miami, who are 1-6. Miami hosts Georgia Tech Thursday night.
Virginia Tech improves to 15-6 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. The Hokies are alone in fourth place, breaking a three-way tie with Maryland and Clemson who both lost Wednesday night and fell to 4-4 in league action.
The Hokies have now won two straight in the RBC Center after they snapped the Pack's 19-game winning streak against Virginia Tech in Raleigh last season. NC State still holds a 34-14 advantage in the overall series against the Hokies. NC State is 6-5 against Virginia Tech since they joined the ACC. The two teams are not scheduled to play again this year.
NC State has two more regular season games on the ESPN network, and that may be a good thing as far as the Pack is concerned. They are 1-6 in games played on the various ESPN channels, with the one win a victory over George Mason on ESPNU.
Other stats of note
- Led by Leslie's 18 off the bench, NC State's reserves outscored Virginia Tech's 31-8.
- Virginia Tech had a 32-26 edge in points in the paint.
- Both teams had six points off turnovers and six fast break points.