NC State fell behind 16-0 to start the game, but senior point guard Javier Gonzalez came in and provided a spark for the Wolfpack.
It started a bit slow for Gonzalez, as a quick turnover led to a Virginia fastbreak layup, but he proved to be a steady influence on both ends.
State picked up the defensive intensity, and Gonzalez either scored or assisted on 13 of the Pack's first 17 points.
He finished the game with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He added four assists and a rebound in 25 minutes of action.
PLAYER OF THE GAME - VIRGINIA
Isn't it always a senior on Senior Night?
It certainly was for the Cavaliers, as senior big man Will Sherrill made the most of his first start since January 19th. He hit two three-pointers in the first couple of minutes, and hit 4-of-5 three's on the night.. he had hit just three total three-pointers over the last 16 games.
Sherrill played a game-high 37 minutes, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and totaled a team-high eight rebounds. Defensively he was outstanding, as he doubled in the post on Tracy Smith and limited State power forwards C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell to just 11 total points on 4-of-12 shooting.
If you would have told Tony Bennett going into the game that Sherrill would outscore Leslie and Howell combined he'd probably take that in a heartbeat.
STAT OF THE GAME
47.6 3-Pt. FG%. The difference in the game was clearly Virginia's ability to hit the three-point shot.
The Cavs came in leading the league in three-point shooting (in conference games) while the Pack ranked second behind Florida State in three-point percentage defense. Something had to give, and State's defense did.
Virginia hit just 21-of-53 shots from the field, a terrible 39.6%. However, UVA knocked down 10-of-21 three-pointers, outscoring the Pack by 12 from deep. Take out those shots, and the Cavs hit just 11-of-32 two-point attempts (34%).
Leading the way were Virginia forwards Will Sherrill and Joe Harris. The duo hit 8-of-12 3-point attempts, often a result of switches defensively by the Wolfpack or dribble penetration by UVA guards Sammy Zeglinski and Mustapha Farrakhan.
How important is the three-pointer to UVA? The Cavs hit 4-of-21 (19%) on Saturday at home against Boston College. BC won going away, 63-44.
PLAY OF THE GAME
In a game that was never REALLY close late, one sequence stood out.
State was on a run midway through the second half, cutting a 50-37 deficit to 50-44 and had the ball with just under nine minutes remaining. Lorenzo Brown came off a high ball screen and split both defenders with a behind-the-back dribble.
Attacking the basket, Brown threw a nifty bounce pass to Richard Howell, who was open on the left block. Howell, who had a couple of shots blocked a possession earlier, rushed a left-handed layup and missed it. Jordan Vandenberg picked up a foul going for the rebound and Virginia got the ball back.
Virginia scored the next four points to push what could have been a four-point lead to a double-digit advantage.
Next up for NC State (15-14, 5-10 ACC) is a Senior Day matchup against Florida State (20-8, 10-4 ACC).
The Seminoles host North Carolina tonight and are still competing for a high seed in the ACC Tournament. FSU is led by senior guard Derwin Kitchen and junior center Bernard James. Star forward Chris Singleton has been sidelined with a foot injury.
The Wolfpack lost 84-71 at Florida State on January 15th. James was 8-of-8 from the field in the win, totaling 16 points, eight rebounds, four steals, and two blocks for the Noles.
Tip-off for NC State and Florida State is set for 6:15 on Sunday in Raleigh. The game will be televised on FSN.
NC State had 15 turnovers and 10 assists while Virginia totaled 12 assists and just nine turnovers... Jordan Vandenberg played 22 minutes for the Wolfpack, as starter Tracy Smith logged just 18 with the Cavs doubling him on every possession... Smith had a game-high five turnovers... It wasn't a good game for freshman Ryan Harrow, who was scoreless (0-4 FG) and had just one rebound in 15 minutes... Lorenzo Brown had nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals, but the freshman also had four turnovers.