The Pack went toe-to-toe with Virginia for nearly the entire game and held a 42-41 lead after Trevor Lacey swished a long three at the shot clock buzzer with 9:20 remaining. But the Wahoos scored the next 10 points over the next 6:18, showcasing the defense that has carried them to their best start since the 1980-81 season.
Caleb Martin's three broke the Wolfpack's drought with 3:02 left, but Virginia's Anthony Gill answered with a personal 6-0 run over the next two minutes to put the game away, including a thunderous tip-slam that brought the house down.
Ralston Turner led N.C. State with 14 points and Kyle Washington posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Lacey added nine for the Pack on 3-of-11 shooting, with all his field goals coming from long range.
The Wolfpack started on fire, connecting on their first four three-pointers en route to a 16-8 lead barely six minutes in.
But Virginia went on an 18-2 run over the next 9:20 to take an eight-point lead of their own and led by as many as 29-20 until consecutive threes by Turner brought the Pack within striking distance. State went 7-for-12 from three in the first half, but finished the game 9-of-21.
The Cavs clung to a 32-29 lead in the waning seconds of the half after State's Cat Barber was fouled attempting a buzzer-beating three. The sophomore point guard hit two of three from the line to make it a one-point game at halftime. Those were the only free throws the Pack made all game--State finished 2-of-9 from the stripe.
The game remained close until Virginia's closing run. Four turnovers, including two illegal screens by Beejay Anya, woke up the near-capacity crowd and helped fuel the Hoos' momentum during the spurt. For the game, the Wolfpack finished with 11 giveaways, while forcing nine themselves.
N.C. State shot 37.7 percent from the field for the game and barely eclipsed the 50.6-point scoring mark that Virginia had been holding opponents to this season. The Cavaliers didn't do much better from the field, finishing 41.1 percent for the game including a 6-of-20 effort from three, but finished 9-of-10 from the line.
N.C. State faces its second straight top-five opponent Sunday afternoon when No. 2 Duke visits PNC Arena. Tip-off is set for 1:30 p.m.