RALEIGH — N.C. State ended Wednesday alone in last place in the ACC and in search of answers.
Virginia Tech embarrassed the Wolfpack, from start to finish, for an easy 72-52 win to drop the Pack to 2-8 in the conference.
Jeff Allen's two-handed dunk at 7:09, with no N.C. State player on the other side of half court, epitomized the effort and energy level for both teams.
"They hit us in the mouth, and they kept hitting us," State freshman Scott Wood said. "And we just kept sitting there and looking at them."
For the first time in 654 games, N.C. State did not make a 3-pointer, a streak that dates to March 1989. The 0-for-11 effort from 3-point range was only one of the Wolfpack's problems.
Leading scorer Tracy Smith was sick, and freshman forward Richard Howell injured his leg in warmups. More to the point, State's defensive intensity, which fueled a late comeback at Georgia Tech on Saturday, was absent. Virginia Tech hit 52.9 percent of its shots (27-of-51) and won easily despite giving up 27 offensive rebounds.
"I don't think we were physical enough," N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe said. "We allowed them to go around wherever they wanted to go."
The Hokies (19-4, 6-3) got 23 points from Dorenzo Hudson, the bulk of which came in transition, for their third straight conference win and fifth in six games.
The Wolfpack (14-11) finds itself looking up at the Hokies and the other 10 teams in the ACC standings. State, with five straight ACC losses, hasn't won a conference game since surprising Duke on Jan. 20.
The game was basically over as soon as it started for the Wolfpack despite Lowe's past success against Virginia Tech.
Lowe was 4-1 against the Hokies, his best mark against any ACC team, before Wednesday. Lacking intensity in the game's first 10 minutes, the Wolfpack watched Virginia Tech hit its first 10 shots and build a 19-point lead.
The Hokies also got after it on defense in the first half, setting a tone for the game, blocking 10 shots and forcing State to shoot just 27.8 percent from the floor for the half and 28.6 for the game.
Senior Dennis Horner, back in the starting lineup after a one-game demotion, tried his best to keep State in the game with a career-best 16 rebounds and 13 points, but he had little help.
Smith got sick on the bench at the end of the first half and needed intravenous fluids to return to the game. Tech's defense bothered Smith, too, double-teaming him every time he touched the ball. Smith didn't score until the 6:37 mark in the first half, managed only four points before becoming ill and finished with 12 points in the game.
The Wolfpack, struggling with Virginia Tech's 2-3 zone, went nearly 5 minutes without a point to fall down by as many as 19 in the first half. Horner hit a 19-foot jumper at 15:20, and then State didn't score again until Horner's strong take to the basket at 10:29.
The Hokies went until 9:48 without a miss, a 12-footer by freshman guard Erick Green that bounced off the rim and drew a derisive round of applause from the crowd of 14,024 at the RBC Center.
State did force Virginia Tech to close 3-of-13 in the first half and got within 29-21, but Allen scored four quick points and had one of his four credited blocks, on a controversial collision with Julius Mays, at the buzzer.
It wasn't the only contribution from Allen (14 points, 8 rebounds). The junior forward sprinted out after one of State's 15 turnovers and flushed a two-handed dunk that gave Tech a 59-42 lead and had teammate Malcolm Delaney celebrating the Hokies' surge in the ACC standings.
"I think they're starting to see the possibilities," said Hokies coach Seth Greenberg, who has led the program to one NCAA Tournament appearance in his first six seasons.
The Wolfpack is going in the opposite direction. The only good news is it can't go any lower in the standings.
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