tournament quarterfinal Friday against
is a rematch of one of the Cavaliers’ most important and curious victories.
Virginia defeated State 61-60 in Raleigh, despite a 42-25 rebounding deficit and thanks to a late defensive stand by Jontel Evans.
“They guard very well,” Wolfpack forward C.J. Williams said of the Cavaliers after State’s 78-57 opening-round victory over
. “When we played them in Raleigh, they shot the ball very well in the first half. We can’t let them do that again because they’re such a good team defensively.”
Indeed, the Cavaliers shot 60 percent in the first half that night and made 7-of-15 threes for the game, 4-of-5 by Sammy Zeglinski. Conversely, the Wolfpack was 2-of-15 from three. But State’s rebounding edge, 15-4 on the offensive glass, kept the game close.
“They were men among boys to start the game,” Virginia coach
said earlier this week. “I remember that, just how they owned the glass. Their talent level and their ability to score in transition and get on the glass and have play makers is certainly impressive.”
State outscored Boston College in transition Thursday by a hey-now 31-4. The Wolfpack had only eight points in transition against Virginia.
The game came down to the final possession, when Evans forced and bumped Lorenzo Brown deep onto the right wing, where his desperation 3-point attempt missed.
“I thought it was foul,” Brown said with a smile Thursday. “I guess the refs didn’t. I just tried to put it out of my mind.”
N.C. State (21-11) and Virginia (22-8) both were 9-7 in the ACC during the regular season, but the Cavaliers’ win over the Pack and overall better Rating Percentage Index numbers position them much better for the
“For us, the answer is to continue to win. … Both teams, in my opinion, deserve to be in the NCAA tournament,” State coach Mark Gottfried said.
led Virginia with 18 points and 11 rebounds in Raleigh, but it wasn’t one of his better shooting games (5-of-11). Still, Brown and teammate Richard Howell said Thursday that Scott deserved to be ACC Player of the Year –
won the vote in a landslide over Scott.
“I definitely would have given it to Mike Scott,” Howell said. “It’s hard to play against a post player when he likes to shoot the mid-range.”
“I didn’t see anybody else doing the things he was doing,” Brown said. “They were ranked and he was all they had. … I definitely think he got gypped. He’s not in a big program like Zeller.”
Howell and Leslie were/will be difficult matchups for Virginia inside. Leslie had 17 points and five rebounds, Howell 11 and 18.
Evans also faces a defensive chore with Brown, an underrated point guard who had 12 points, eight assists and five steals Thursday against Boston College.
The Wolfpack has rebounded from a four-game losing streak with three consecutive victories. A primary reason is Wood.
He scored a game-high 22 points Thursday, making 5-of-9 threes, and his 56 points in his last three games mark the most productive stretch of his three-year college career. Wood was 2-of-8 on threes against Virginia, and Sammy Zeglinski will need to guard him well.
“Obviously I didn’t play well and I felt like I let the team down in a lot of areas,” Wood said of State’s losing skid.
Wood made his first two 3-pointers Thursday and said, “Once you see those two go in, you feel like you can make anything.”
State is averaging 75 points in its three-game winning streak, but Virginia hasn’t allowed that many points since an 83-77 victory at Seattle on Dec. 21. The Cavaliers lead the ACC in scoring defense at 53.2 points per game.
“You have to dig down,” Williams said of playing Virginia. “You know it’s going to be a grind-it-out game.”
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