RALEIGH — Alone on the fastbreak, Virginias Akil Mitchell rocked the ball for a windmill dunk. It was the kind of play that puts an exclamation point on a win.
The problem for N.C. State on Saturday afternoon was Mitchells dunk came with 71 seconds left in the first half. It still signified the end for the Wolfpacks 76-45 annihilation. Virginia opened the game with a 21-4 blitz and never looked back.
It was N.C. States worst home loss since moving to PNC Arena in 1999 and worst home loss since a 100-67 defeat to North Carolina in Feb. 1993.
N.C. State (11-5) lost in the first half. The Cavaliers (12-4) led 48-25 at the break and totaling three more points the Wolfpack did all game.
In the first half, I dont know that they can play better and I dont think that we can play any worse, Gottfried said. We were pitiful in the first half and offensively, basically, the whole game.
The 45 points are the fewest State has scored in 88 games under Gottfried and fewest in ACC play since Jan. 2000.
With 16 points from senior All-ACC guard Joe Harris, Virginia (12-4) improved to 3-0 and dropped N.C. State (11-5) to 1-2 in the ACC. Virginias domination completed a trifecta of losses for the Triangle, after North Carolina had lost at No. 2 Syracuse and Duke was stunned at Clemson earlier in the day.
Its the first time State, UNC and Duke all lost on the same day since the quarterfinals of the 1996 ACC tournament. Eighteen years ago, on March 8, State lost to Georgia Tech, Duke lost to Maryland and UNC lost to Clemson on Greg Buckners famous dunk.
Mitchells dunk wont be quite as memorable but it was a fitting cap to Virginias first-half destruction of the Wolfpack. The Cavaliers scored on 17 of their first 20 possessions and made 15 of their first 21 shots (71.4 percent) to build a 48-25 advantage at the half.
It was just tough for us to bounce back after they started putting the hammer on us, freshman forward BeeJay Anya said. We tried to pick up the intensity but we were in such a deep hole, we couldnt climb out of it.
Harris, who has been in somewhat of a senior funk after an outstanding junior season, drilled a 30-foot 3-pointer, after State went to a zone, to give Virginia a 33-11 lead at 7:52 in the first half.
While Harris, who had more points in the first half than in any game since November, shone, N.C. States star T.J. Warren struggled. Warren finished with a season-low four points and was 1-for-9 from the floor. He had his worst game of his freshman season against Virginia, too.
Harris hassled Warren on defense in the first half, which led to three turnovers. Warren only took one shot in the first 14 minutes and didnt make a field goal until the 5:12 mark. Warren, who averages 23.4 points per game, didnt score in the second half.
Gottfried said it was a combination of Virginias defense and Warrens passive play which led to the tough night for the ACCs leading scorer.
I think Virginia defended him really well and at the same time, he had an unusual night, Gottfried said.
Meanwhile, Virginia got contributions from sophomore forward Mike Tobey (16 points, seven rebounds), guard Malcolm Brogdon (13 points) and Mitchell (12 rebounds).
Junior guard Desmond Lee and junior guard Ralston Turner led the Wolfpack with 10 points each. N.C. State never got closer than 22 points in the second half.
With the next two games on the road (at Wake Forest on Wednesday, at Duke on Saturday), Lee said the Wolfpack has to find a way to get its game together.
Everybody knows were better than this, Lee said. Were not going to hang our heads. We have another game, at Wake Forest, and were going to take care of business.