A week after an eight-minute stretch without a point cost NC State a chance at beating North Carolina, the Wolfpack repeated the feat. This time on the road against Virginia, the Pack did not score from the 17-minute mark of the second half until the 10-minute mark. In that stretch, the Pack's three-point lead turned into an eight-point deficit en route to dropping its third-straight ACC contest 59-47 on Wednesday night.
The scoring drought was just the low point of an abysmal offensive game for the Pack. Scoring its lowest point total of the season, the Pack shot 38 percent from the floor but was just 2-of-11 from behind the arc. And while they got to the free-throw line, they still couldn't turn it into points, shooting just 56 percent from the charity stripe.
The schedule does no favors for the Pack either, as the team will continue its stretch of three road trips in its next four games by traveling to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are part of the crowded middle of the ACC standings currently, and the Pack is hoping to crawl out of the basement.
Richard Howell led the way for the Pack, coming off the bench to score 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting while also grabbing eight boards. Tracy Smith had a big first half on his way to scoring 12 points in the game to go with seven rebounds, but the Virginia defense adjusted after halftime and held the Pack's leading scorer silent. Smith and Howell were the only two players to score in double figures for the Pack.
Head coach Sidney Lowe got a scare when Javi Gonzalez, who has started all but the last two games at point guard, went to the bench with an injury in the first half. With six minutes remaining in the first half, the Gonzalez was fouled on a drive and badly turned his right ankle. He came up limping but was able to come back early in the second half.
The Pack jumped on top of the Cavaliers early on thanks to Smith, who scored six points in the first six minutes of the game to push the Pack ahead by as many as six. The Cavaliers cut into that lead though, keeping the pace to a crawl, hitting open 3-pointers and getting to the free-throw line. But the Pack stayed ahead by going inside to Smith and Howell, taking a 28-25 lead into the locker room.
The Cavaliers shot just 35 percent in the half as the Pack defense kept the ball out of the hands of Sylven Landesberg, but the Cavaliers did hit 3-of-10 from behind the arc to help keep pace. The Pack meanwhile shot 46 percent from the floor but took only four 3-point attempts in the half as it worked through the low post. Both teams committed just three turnovers.
The comeback continued for the Cavaliers at the start of the second half, as the Pack offense sputtered. The Pack couldn't hit an outside shot early on, and Virginia's offense was making just enough shots to allow them to pull ahead at the 15-minute mark of the half as part of an 15-2 run that put the Cavaliers up by eight points.