Virginia Tech found paths to the basket easy to come by as it ended N.C. State’s three-game ACC winning streak on Wednesday night.
Led by 32 points from hard-driving guard Justin Robinson, the Hokies cut their way through the Wolfpack defense all night to post an 85-75 win at Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech (17-7, 6-5 ACC) shot 63.5 percent and scored 56 of its points in the paint. Part of the reason was the foul trouble N.C. State’s interior players Omer Yurtseven, Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu played through. An even bigger reason was the way the Hokies guards, particularly Robinson, were able to drive past the Wolfpack’s perimeter defenders and in to the lane for high-percentage shots.
“They lived in the paint on us,” N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts said. “I thought Robinson, he was tremendous. I didn’t think we did such a great job of keeping him out of the lane. He was able to get in the paint and he found people for open shots and got to the free throw line 14 times.”
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Robinson made 11 of 17 shots with only two 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear, Jr., added 18 points while making 7 of 10 shots.
N.C. State (16-8, 6-5) was led by Yurtseven’s 20 points. Guard Markell Johnson added 15 points with 10 assists as the Wolfpack shot 43.5 percent overall, including 10 of 30 (33 percent) on 3-pointers.
After trailing by 13 points at halftime and as many as 18 points in the second half, N.C. State used 3-point shooting to climb back.
Six of the first seven field goals the Wolfpack made in the second half were behind the 3-point line. When Sam Hunt drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner with 11:37 to play, Virginia Tech’s lead had shrunk to 61-55.
But the Hokies were able to score the game’s next six points and, predictably, all three baskets came inside as they pushed their lead back to 67-55 with 8:29 to play.
N.C. State was unable to put any pressure on Virginia Tech in the first half, as the Hokies shot 64.5 percent to build a 47-34 halftime lead.
The Hokies were able to easily drive the ball against N.C. State’s perimeter players to score easy baskets and also cause fouls to pile up against the Wolfpack’s interior players.
Yurtseven picked up three fouls and played just eight minutes. Freeman was called for three fouls in his six first-half minutes while Abu picked up two fouls in nine minutes.
Yurtseven scored N.C State’s first eight points before leaving the game after his second foul. Despite his absence and the defensive issues, the Wolfpack stayed with the Hokies over the game’s first 11 minutes.
A Braxton Beverly 3-pointer at 9:22 tied the game at 21. After Robinson made two free throws for Virginia Tech, Torin Dorn hit a jump shot to tie the game at 23 with 8:49 to play in half.
But the Wolfpack didn’t hit another shot from the field for the game’s next six minutes and seven seconds.
Virginia Tech reeled off 12 consecutive points. Justin Bibbs started the run with a jump shot but the Hokies’ next five baskets came in the lane -- two were slam dunks.
While N.C. State could manage to score just three free throws during a six-minute stretch, Virginia Tech built a 41-26 lead.