GREENSBORO - Quick hits and notes from NC State's 80-63 victory over Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum in front of an announced crowd of 22,169.
Play of the game
It was a coaching move that backfired on Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson. With 4:16 to go, Johnson substituted sophomore guard Robert Brown for senior guard Erick Green, the ACC Player of the Year. The probable intention of Johnson was to rest Green briefly before the under-4 timeout and then get him back in the game after the brief break in action.
However, Virginia Tech had two bad possessions, both of which led to NC State fast break dunks that gave the Pack a sudden 34-27 lead and fired up the Wolfpack. Johnson had to call timeout with 3:20 to go to get Green back into the game.
Highlight of the game
It may have been unnecessary, but on the final Wolfpack possession of the game, freshman guard Rodney Purvis called for a screen from redshirt junior center Jordan Vandenberg, and then slashed to the basket for a highlight-reel one-handed dunk over a VT sophomore forward Christian Beyer with 2.2 seconds left.
Player of the game
Green was the country's leading scorer at 25.4 points per game, and his presence alone can cause defenses headaches. NCSU junior guard Lorenzo Brown was given the task of being the primary defender on Green, and he succeeded in holding Green to 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting. Green also had just one assist versus four turnovers.
Brown's defense forced Green into his second worst shooting performance of the year behind only his 4-of-17-effort at Virginia Feb. 12. The 15 points were Green's second fewest of the year behind the 12 he had versus BYU in Salt Lake City, Utah on Dec. 29. Green scored at least 20 points in all but four of Tech's 32 games this year after Thursday.
Brown himself also excelled in all facets of the game. He piled up 12 assists versus two turnovers and added nine points and seven rebounds. He had more assists than Virginia Tech did as a team (10). The 12 assists were a new school record for an ACC Tournament contest and sixth most ever for any tourney game by any player.
Brown needs eight more assists to pass former guard Julius Hodge for the most by a Pack player ever in the tournament.
Strong start to ACC Tournament
There was not much to complain about after NC State's 17-point victory. Senior center Richard Howell was a strong candidate for player of the game by posting 22 points on 11-of-13 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds. He finished with his 17th double-double of the year and 30th of his career.
Howell, who was three points shy of his career-high, led four starters in double figures scoring. Junior forward C.J. Leslie had 15 points and seven rebounds. Freshman forward T.J. Warren added 13 points in his ACC Tournament debut.
Also pouring in 13 points was senior wing Scott Wood, who made 3 of 5 three-pointers. That gives Wood 319 career three-pointers. He needs three more to tie Rodney Monroe's school record for most career threes, and Wood has at least two games left.
Wood, who is 21 of 40 all-time making three-pointers in the Greensboro Coliseum, is now tied with former Wake Forest guard Justin Gray for the seventh most all-time in ACC history.
Overall NCSU shot 52.8 percent from the field, making over half their shots for just the second time in the last nine contests.
The only nitpicky criticism of NCSU was allowing junior forward Jarell Eddie to score 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, matching his career best for an ACC game. Eddie also had 21 against Boston College Jan. 9. Eddie seems to like playing the Wolfpack. He had 17 in the two teams' earlier matchup this year, including the controversial put back to send the game into overtime.
Rematch with Virginia
NC State traveled to Virginia Jan. 29 fresh off the emotional high of its dominating win over UNC just three days before. The trip to Charlottesville turned out to be a bit of a nightmare for the Pack.
Leslie entered the game questionable to play because of a sickness and actually started the game on the bench. It was one of just two games this year that Leslie did not start. Then a little over nine minutes into the game, Brown turned his ankle and would not return.
Leslie ended up playing, contributing a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds, but the loss of Brown was tough to handle. Virginia rallied from a 31-24 halftime deficit to upend NCSU 58-55.
Cavalier junior wing and first-team All-ACC performer Joe Harris led the way with 22 points, while the combination of junior center Akil Mitchell and freshman center reserve Mike Tobey combined for 27 points and 19 rebounds in the post.
What the win means
NC State improved to 23-9 overall while Virginia Tech finished its year at 13-19 after starting 7-0. If you were to add ACC Tournament games to the teams' respective conference records, NCSU is 12-7 against league teams while the Hokies are 4-15.
The Pack is 66-50 all-time in tournament games and 24-21 in tourney contests played at the Greensboro Coliseum. State improved their record to 6-6 all-time as a five seed. They were also a five seed last year when they reached the tournament semifinals.
NCSU is now 37-14 all-time against the Hokies and improved to 6-2 against them in games played on a neutral court. State is also 2-0 against Tech in ACC Tournament games.
Other stats of note
- NC State outscored Tech in the paint 40-32.
- The Pack lost the turnover margin 12-9 and but still had a 15-13 edge in points off turnovers.
- NC State dominated in transition, outscoring the Hokies 14-4 in fast break points.
- State outrebounded Tech 40-25 overall and 10-7 on the offensive glass. Despite that, VT still had a 7-3 edge in second chance points.
- Virginia Tech's bench outscored NC State's reserves 12-8.