Wolfpack picks up the 'D' and rolls to the 'W' in quarterfinals
N.C. State may finally become the powerhouse everyone expected it to be.
Facing a team that was fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth, the Wolfpack dominated Virginia 75-56 in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“I think our team is beginning to find, you know, that groove,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “I think we’re getting in a good spot.”
Scott Wood went 7 of 12 from behind the arc and scored 23 points, while C.J. Leslie added 17 points and 11 rebounds and Durham native T.J. Warren had 18 points on 9 of 11 shooting against No. 4 Virginia.
The preseason conference favorite, N.C. State fell to the No. 5 seed in the ACC Tournament partly due to a three-game losing streak that took place when point guard Lorenzo Brown was injured. But the Wolfpack (24-9) has now won eight of its last 10 games heading into their semifinal today against Miami (1 p.m., WRAL/ESPN2).
Gottfried said the team’s emergence was the result of three main factors — a healthy Brown, the addition of Warren to the starting lineup eight games ago, and a solid group of veterans that includes Wood, Leslie, Brown and Richard Howell, who had 12 rebounds despite playing with an injured thigh.
Howell was kneed twice in the same spot and had his thigh wrapped in the second half, but the senior said he would “definitely” be ready to play today.
Wood, who is 28 of 52 (53.8 percent) from behind the arc in eight career games at the Greensboro Coliseum, broke open Friday’s game with 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions early in the second half, giving N.C. State a 41-26 lead with 17:33 left.
“When the voting came out for all-ACC selections, I was shocked that Scott Wood wasn’t on somebody’s first, second, third (team) or honorable mention,” Gottfried said. “To me that’s amazing. When you play our team one of the first things you have to do is figure out how you’re going to guard Scott Wood. He stepped up today and not only was he working hard defensively but he changed the game, period.”
Wood and Brown held first-team all-ACC guard Joe Harris (13 points) to 4 of 13 shooting and five turnovers.
Though known for its offense — the Wolfpack is fourth nationally in field-goal percentage and is the only team in the country with five players who average at least 12 points a game — Howell was proudest of the team’s defensive effort. Virginia (21-11) shot 38.9 percent and was outrebounded 39-28.
“I feel like a statement was made on the defensive end,” Howell said. “They know we can score and get up and down, but a lot of people criticize our defense, and today we came out and shut all of that down.”
Virginia fell to 2-14 all-time against N.C. State in the ACC Tournament and hasn’t made the ACC semifinals since 1995.
The loss also left the Cavaliers’ NCAA Tournament status in doubt. Virginia beat Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State at home and Wisconsin on the road, but also went 0-3 against the Colonial Athletic Association.
“What will be, will be,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said. “We have some quality wins, we have some bad losses and who knows what will happen. I’m sure people won’t give us much of a chance (but) the committee will make their decision.
“This would have helped and I thought we had the right mindset going in, we prepared hard and knew the keys but if you’re off against an offensive team like this you won’t have much of a chance.”
While Virginia waits until Sunday to find out its future, N.C. State will face Miami in a rematch of a classic last month in Raleigh, which the Hurricanes won 79-78 on a tip-in by Winston-Salem native Reggie Johnson with 0.8 seconds left.
N.C. State’s five starters have all played at least 67 minutes so far, but Gottfried said he wasn’t worried about fatigue when the team plays its third game in three days today.
“That’s a rule we have, you’re not allowed to get tired,” Gottfried said. “Our guys will be fine.”
|NC STATE 75, VIRGINIA 56|
Percentages: FG .458, FT .813.
3-Point Goals: 8-16, .500 (Wood 7-12, Brown 1-3, J. Lewis 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Leslie 3).
Turnovers: 10 (Leslie 3, Purvis 2, Howell 2, Brown, Warren, T. Lewis).
Steals: 7 (Warren 3, Wood 2, T. Lewis, Brown).
Technical Fouls: Warren.
Percentages: FG .389, FT .600.
3-Point Goals: 5-20, .250 (Harris 2-9, Nolte 1-2, Jesperson 1-3, Anderson 1-4, Barnette 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Mitchell 2, Anderson, Atkins).
Turnovers: 10 (Harris 5, Anderson 2, Tobey, Mitchell, Jesperson).
Steals: 7 (Mitchell 3, Evans 2, Anderson, Harris).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Jamie Luckie, Ray Natili, Mike Eades.