NC State beats Virginia 75-56 in ACC tourney, faces Miami next

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 15, 2013 

— Scott Wood’s third 3-pointer, in a 84-second span in the second half, not only sent N.C. State on its way to a 75-56 win over Virginia in the ACC tournament Friday, it made Lorenzo Brown shake his head in amazement.

"That’s just Scott right there, that’s what he does," Brown said.

True enough, with seven 3-pointers Friday, Wood passed Rodney Monroe for the school’s career record in 3-pointers.

Much was made of Wood’s 23 points against Virginia, one of the toughest defenses in the country, but the senior sharpshooter was more interested in talking about his own defense on Virginia’s Joe Harris.

"Finally," Wood said in a postgame scrum with the media after he was asked about his defense. "I like to take a lot of pride in my defense."

For the second consecutive game, it was N.C. State’s defense that helped the Wolfpack advance to Saturday’s semifinal matchup with top-seeded Miami at 1 p.m.

The Wolfpack (24-9), known for its offense, beat the Cavaliers (21-11) at their own game. Wood was instrumental in holding Harris to 13 points, one game after Brown locked down Virginia Tech’s Erick Green.

Junior forward C.J. Leslie added 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and senior forward Richard Howell played through a painful thigh bruise to grab 12 rebounds.

It was the kind of dominant, and complete performance, expected of the Wolfpack when the season started.

An 11-7 finish relegated the Pack to the fifth seed and the play-in round, but it has put together back-to-back double-digit wins and might be peaking at the right time.

"I definitely feel like we’re clicking on all cylinders, but there’s also room for improvement," Howell said.

Not much room on the defensive end. Harris torched N.C. State for 20 points in January, a 58-55 Virginia win. Harris was 4 of 13 on Friday and just 2 of 9 from 3-point range.

"They weren’t making anything easy," said Harris, who averaged 18.4 points in conference play, second to only Green.

Wood said he had help and that Harris just missed a few shots. He also said the improved team defense over the past four weeks has not been by accident.

"You’ve got to do it together," Wood said. "We just have to do a good job as a team of helping each other and getting stops."

While Virginia couldn’t buy a 3-pointer, Wood made a season-high 7 of 12, including three in 84-second span to push N.C. State’s nine-point halftime lead to 44-25 at the 12:40 mark.

"He changed the game, just changed the game, period," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "He has been doing it all year for us. He has won games at the end and today I thought he just had a couple of stretches when he was outstanding."

Forward Akil Mitchell led Virginia with 19 points and eight rebounds but the Cavaliers shot just 38.9 percent (21 of 54) for the game and were out-rebounded 39 to 28.

Leslie started the game quickly for the Wolfpack, which led by as many as 13 in the first half, and T.J. Warren (18 points) was able to get out in transition for easy points against Virginia’s normally stingy defense.

The contingent of Wolfpack fans at the Greensboro Coliseum roared with Wood’s third 3-pointer of the game, after a sweet behind-the-back pass from Tyler Lewis in transition late in the first half.

"I had a sense that he was behind me," said Lewis, who finished with four assists. "I figured he would hit the shot."

Lewis didn’t need to know Wood’s history at the Greensboro Coliseum to know that, not with Wood on fire they way he was on Friday.

But the Coliseum has become a little piece of Indiana for Wood, who has had made 28 of 52 3-pointers in eight career games in the building.

Wood wouldn’t mind two more games in Greensboro.

"We’re doing a pretty good job so far," Wood said.

The Wolfpack is only halfway to its goal.

See the box score from this game

Observations

— N.C. State improved to 17-2 over the past two seasons when Scott Wood makes at least four 3-pointers. Both of the losses came this season, and on the road in the Triangle.

Wood equaled his single-game best with seven 3-pointers, which he also did as a freshman against Florida State.

Wood set the new school record for career 3-pointers, with 326, and got a chance to meet Rodney Monroe, the previous record-holder with 322, after the game.

— One more barometer for the Wolfpack's success: C.J. Leslie's free-throw shooting. N.C. State is 16-3 this season when Leslie makes better than 50 percent of his free throws.

He was 5 of 7 from the line on Friday and he was 9 of 14 in Thursday's win over Virginia Tech.

— Leslie has been given two technical fouls this season for protesting a foul call by gesturing with his arms out and hands up.

Leslie made a similar gesture late in Friday's game, which referee Jamie Luckie ignored, but N.C. State Mark Gottfried screamed across the court to Leslie and made a throat-slashing gesture to tell the junior forward to cut it out.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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