Joe Harris and Sammy Zeglinski each added 12 for the Cavaliers (17-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 60 percent in the first half to take the lead and then turned away a second-half rally for the road win.
Virginia led by 10 with about 6 1/2 minutes left before the Wolfpack (15-7, 4-3) pushed back. Scott Wood shook off a game's worth of shooting struggles to bury a 3-pointer off a loose rebound to cut the deficit to 61-60 with 46.3 seconds to go, then Zeglinski missed a step-back jumper with the shot clock winding down to give the ball back to the Wolfpack with a chance to win.
But after a timeout with 7.8 seconds left, Lorenzo Brown managed a desperate 3-pointer that missed everything, ending the game.
C.J. Leslie scored 17 points to lead the Wolfpack, while Richard Howell had 11 points and a career-high 18 rebounds before fouling out with 1:47 left. N.C. State shot just 40 percent for the game, but got back in it in the second half by holding the Cavaliers to 4-for-18 shooting (22 percent) in the final 20 minutes.
N.C. State was coming off a 19-point loss at rival North Carolina two nights earlier, though the Wolfpack trailed by 31 in the second half of an ugly defeat that threatened to drain some of the buzz that had built during the team's 4-1 ACC start. This seemed a perfect opportunity to chase away the sting from that loss, against a ranked league opponent in front of a loud home crowd.
Instead, the Cavaliers earned their fourth straight win against the Wolfpack.
The Cavaliers were playing their third game without starting center Assane Sene, who is expected to be out six weeks due to a right ankle injury sustained at Georgia Tech on Jan. 19. They lost at home to Virginia Tech in the first, then rolled past Boston College on Thursday night and continued that with a hot-shooting first half against the Wolfpack.
After shooting 51 percent against the Eagles, Virginia went 15 for 25 from the field and led by nine before taking a 38-31 lead into halftime. N.C. State rallied to within a point midway through the second half but never could push ahead.
The Cavaliers finally got some breathing room with an 8-0 run. Harris knocked down a 3-pointer during the spurt, then ended it with a pair of free throws that made it 55-45 with 6:31 left, though the Wolfpack made one more push that ultimately fell a shot short.