The Wolfpack jumped out to an early 10-1 lead behind two Tony Bethel 3-pointers. Bethel, who entered the game shooting a blistering 55% from beyond the arc in ACC games, knocked down 6-of-9 3-pointers and five in the first half to jumpstart NC State's offensive attack.
Virginia Tech hung around early in the first half, mainly due to the strong play of junior guard Jamon Gordon. Gordon tallied nine first-half points to pace the Hokies, who pulled within one point on two different occasions. However, the team had no answer for NC State's perimeter shooting and efficient offense.
Bethel, Cameron Bennerman, and Engin Atsur put on a show from behind the arc, using effective passing and ballfakes to get free for wide open 3-point opportunities. The trio drilled 9-of-16 first-half 3-pointers and keyed a 21-4 run to end the half that gave the Wolfpack a 43-25 halftime lead.
NC State started the second half with a four-point outburst from Cedric Simmons to push the advantage to 47-25, a 22-point lead, but Virginia Tech continued to battle and dominated the Wolfpack in the paint. Grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, the Hokies slowly climbed back in the game on offensive putbacks and by creating havoc on the defensive end.
Virginia Tech forward Deron Washington started a 9-0 run that narrowed NC State's lead to 47-34, and the spurt was able to ignite the crowd and gave the Hokies much-needed momentum.
NC State maintained its composure for much of the second half, but coming down the stretch, no shots would go in for the Wolfpack. NC State, which shot over 50% for much of the game, went the final 6:19 without a field goal, and Virginia Tech used another run, this time a 20-5 spurt, to pull within three points at 61-58 with 1:21 remaining.
With senior Ilian Evtimov sidelined by a foot injury, NC State was playing without one of its best players, but that didn't stop another senior from stepping up in the final minute.
NC State's other seniors, Bethel and Bennerman, made 9-of-10 free throws in the final minute to ice the win for the Wolfpack, including 8-of-8 by Bennerman.
The 6-foot-4 guard tallied 26 points, five rebounds, and five assists to lead NC State. Bethel added 19 points and four rebounds while Atsur chipped in 14 points and five boards. Simmons was NC State's top post presence, as the sophomore registered six points, six rebounds, and a game-high six blocked shots.
Collins led Virginia Tech with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Gordon finished with 11 points and six steals while Zabian Dowdell added 10 points and five assists.
NC State shot 45.1% from the field and 46.2% from beyond the arc, drilling 12-of-26 3-pointers. The Wolfpack also knocked down 12-of-14 free throws, including the crucial attempts down the stretch.
Virginia Tech struggled from the field and beyond the arc. The Hokies shot just 36.1% from the field, and NC State played superb perimeter defense, limiting Virginia Tech to 1-of-12 shooting from 3-point range.
No. 18 NC State improves to 21-5 on the season, the best start ever under Wolfpack head coach Herb Sendek, and 10-3 in ACC play. Next up is a much-anticipated rematch with rival North Carolina. Earlier this season, the Tar Heels upset NC State 82-69 in Chapel Hill, on Wednesday's contest will be played at the RBC Center in Raleigh.