McCauley scored a game-high 20 points with a variety of dips, spins and hooks as NC State upset No. 18 Virginia Tech at the Cassell Center in Blacksburg, Va. The win marked the first victory for Sidney Lowe over a ranked opponent during his short career with the Pack, broke Virginia Tech's perfect 10-0 home record for the year and knocked the Hokies out of first place in the ACC.
State (12-8, 2-5 ACC) shot a blistering 51 percent from the field for the game while the Hokies (16-6, 6-2) struggled all night on offense, shooting just 35 percent. The Pack also dominated the glass, out-rebounding Virginia Tech by a 42-29 margin.
Gavin Grant, who didn't start in the Pack's last game because of a missed tutoring session, played inspired basketball in the second half to help State hold on to its second conference win of the season. The junior, who went scoreless in the first half, scored 16 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds for the game.
Engin Atsur, in his second game back from injury, added 14 points. Courtney Fells also scored in double figures with 11 points, and Brandon Costner came just short of another double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
State started the game by feeding its sophomore big man, letting McCauley work on the inside. The Pack's most versatile player showed off his post moves for most of the first half, scoring 12 of State's first 19 points as the Wolfpack jumped out to a quick lead. The Pack led by as many as 10 points in the half before Virginia Tech rallied.
The Hokies managed to take a big chunk out of the Pack's halftime lead thanks to a four-point play from Zabian Dowdell in the waning seconds of the half. Dowdell nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds left, then calmly sank the free-throw to pull Virginia Tech within two after 20 minutes of play.
Virginia Tech came out aggressively in the second half, taking its only lead of the game on a Deron Washington jumper to make it 36-35 with sixteen minutes remaining. But the Pack responded immediately with a quick 7-0 run to pull back in front. The Hokies pulled within two once more down the stretch, but Brandon Costner quickly answered by nailing a 3-pointer to ignite another 7-0 run and seal the win for the Wolfpack.
McCauley also showcased strong defensive skills, limiting Tech senior center Coleman Collins to zero points on 0-5 shooting from the field. McCauley wasn't alone, as Fells held Dowdell, Tech's leading scorer and the reigning ACC Player of the Week, to just five points, all from the free throw line, in the second half.
Next up for the Wolfpack is the rivalry game against No. 3 North Carolina. The Tar Heels, who demolished Miami 105-64 Wednesday night, will come to Raleigh sporting a 20-2 overall record.