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March 4, 2010

Quick hits from NC State's loss at Va. Tech

Quick hits and notes from NC State's 71-59 loss to Virginia Tech in front of 9,847 fans at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.

Play of the game

Virginia Tech led 31-22 at halftime, but NC State came out focused in the second half. The Pack cut VT's lead to 34-32 before Hokies junior guard Malcolm Delaney did what great players do and that's take over, albeit briefly. Delaney made three straight three-pointers to go on a personal 9-0 run over a 3:41 span, giving Virginia Tech a 43-32 lead with 12:36 left in the game after he made his third long range shot.

The second three-pointer however was the play of the game. That's because State nearly came away with a steal on the play. An entry pass to Virginia Tech sophomore center Victor Davila was mishandled, and the ball briefly was loose on the court. Davila's hustle though allowed him to regain the ball. From the floor, he threw a pass out to junior wing Terrell Bell who flicked it over to an open Delaney for a three-pointer and a 40-32 lead with 13:54 left in the contest.

Player of the game

Delaney, the ACC's leading scorer, did his thing en route to 21 points in 37 minutes, making 6 of 12 shots and 3 of 6 three-pointers while connecting on all six free throw attempts. Our choice for player of the game however is junior wing Dorenzo Hudson. He matched Delaney with 21 points, and he added a team-high four assists, made a steal and did not have a turnover in 37 minutes. Hudson made 7 of 14 shots and connected on 7 of 9 free throws.

Hudson, a Charlotte-native, must like playing against NC State. He torched the Pack for 23 points when the Hokies routed the Pack 72-52 at the RBC Center Feb. 10. That remains his best scoring output in an ACC game.

The trio of Delaney, Hudson and junior post player Jeff Allen contributed all but 11 of Virginia Tech's 71 points. Allen added 18 points and a team-high nine rebounds in the win.

Two main factors in loss

One of the two factors we have already touched on and that was Delaney's personal 9-0 second half run. It was not an explosive spurt. Virginia Tech had three turnovers between Delaney's first and second three-pointers, and it could have been four had it not been for Davila's hustle. The Wolfpack though failed to convert on their opportunities and stagnated on offense during that stretch. Take out Delaney's run and State actually probably outplayed Virginia Tech much of that second half.

NC State's bigger problem however was the hole they dug themselves in the first half thanks in large part to 13 turnovers before halftime. That is more turnovers than NC State has had in nine of their first 14 ACC games total. The 13 first half turnovers also matched a season-high for most in a half, tying the 13 State had in the second half of a 66-45 win over Akron in the second game of the season on Nov. 20.

By comparison, Virginia Tech had only three first half turnovers and outscored the Pack in points of turnovers 10-3 in the first half. State finished the game with 20 turnovers compared to 10 for Tech as both teams had seven second half turnovers. Virginia Tech had a final edge of 15-9 in points off turnovers.

In a related stat, NC State had just eight assists Wednesday night. That was their third lowest total of the year. Ironically, one of their two lowest had come against Virginia Tech. The Pack had just seven assists in their first matchup with the Hokies. The season low is six against Virginia Feb. 3.

Long range shooting still a telling indicator

In the last edition of quick hits, we noted how NC State's three-point shooting seems to be a leading indicator on how the game is going to result for the Pack. That held up Wednesday night. NC State made just 4 of 16 three-pointers for 25.0 percent. The Pack is now 6-13 this year and 0-11 in conference action when shooting less than 40 percent on three-pointers. They are 10-1 overall and 4-0 in ACC games when at or above that mark.

Virginia Tech had been particularly tough for State to shoot against. The Pack's streak of consecutive games with a made three-pointer ended at 654 games over a nearly 21-year span when State shot 0 for 11 on threes the first time these two teams played.

What the loss means

NC State falls to 16-14 overall and 4-11 in the ACC, tying Miami for 11th place in the conference. The Pack owns the tiebreaker over Miami and would be seeded 11th if the ACC Tournament started today. UNC and Virginia are just one game ahead of the Pack.

UNC will be at Duke, Virginia is hosting Maryland, Miami is hosting Florida State and NC State hosts Boston College to end the season this weekend. Here's how the tiebreakers sort out:

- If it's a two-way tie between Miami and NC State, the Pack wins the tiebreaker and is seeded 11th.
- If it's a three-way tie between Miami, NC State and Virginia, then Virginia is the 10th seed, NC State is 11 and Miami 12.
- If it's a three-way tie between Miami, UNC and NC State, then UNC is the 10 seed, NC State 11 and Miami 12.
- If it's a four-way tie between Miami, UNC, NC State and Virginia, then Virginia is the 9 seed, UNC the 10 seed, Miami the 11 seed and the Pack 12th.

NC State is now 34-13 against Virginia Tech and is swept by the Hokies for the first time since they have joined the conference. The series at the Cassell Coliseum is all even at 3-3. The Hokies are 22-7 overall and 9-6 in the ACC. They are in a three-way tie for third place with Clemson and Florida State, one game ahead of Wake Forest.

Other stats of note

- NC State outrebounded Virginia Tech 35-29, 11-10 on the offensive glass and outscored VT 13-8 in second chance points.
- Virginia Tech outscored NC State in the paint 34-22.
- The Hokies also had an 8-5 edge in fast break points.
- The Pack's bench outscored Virginia Tech's reserves 9-6.



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