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February 11, 2010

Quick hits from NC State's loss to Va. Tech

Quick hits and notes from NC State's 72-52 loss to Virginia Tech in front of 14,024 displeased fans at the RBC Center Wednesday night.

Play of the game

There was one sequence that exemplified the game for NC State. Trailing 53-40 with 9:06 remaining in the game, fifth-year senior guard Farnold Degand was accelerating down court for a potential fast break lay-up. Instead of heading straight to the basket however, Degand drifted out to try to draw contact and a foul. He ended up with a difficult fade shot on what should have been a lay-up attempt, and no foul was called.

His miss was rebounded Virginia Tech junior post player Jeff Allen, who outlet the pass ahead to star junior guard Malcolm Delaney. Speeding up court, Delaney made a sharp diagonal pass to junior guard Dorenzo Hudson, who was making a hard cut to the basket. Hudson caught the pass, took a dribble and then made a nifty reverse lay-up without breaking stride, giving the Hokies a 55-40 lead with 8:56 left in the game.

Player of the game

Hudson gets overshadowed by Delaney, who entered Wednesday's contest as the ACC's leading scorer at 20.3 points per contest and averaging an even better 23.0 points per ACC game. Hudson though was the star guard on the court for the Hokies at the RBC Center. He made 9 of 13 shots, including 2 of 4 three-pointers for a game-high 23 points. He also added four boards and a pair of assists in the effort. The contest represented Hudson's third best scoring output of his career and a new career-high for an ACC game.

Abysmal shooting

NC State did not shoot well Wednesday from anywhere on the court. The numbers are ugly. State shot 10 of 36 in the first half, 0 of 7 on threes. They were 10 of 34 in the second half, 0 of 4 on threes. For the game, that's 20-of-70 shooting for 28.6 percent, and State went 0-11 on threes, marking the first time since March 4, 1989 against Wake Forest that the Pack did not hit a single three-point basket in a game. The streak was stopped at 654 games. Free throw shooting was nothing to brag about either, as State shot 12 of 20 for 60.0 percent.

State's field goal percentage was the lowest this year and the first time the Pack failed to make at least a third of its shot attempts. The previous worst shooting night for the season was 33.3 percent (21 of 63) against Auburn Nov. 22.

During State's five-game ACC losing streak, the Pack has failed to reach 40.0 percent shooting for a game. They are 109-of-311 shooting in that span, or 35.0 percent. They are 21 of 84 from long range, 25.0 percent. In five of the last 10 halves of ACC basketball, the Pack has shot under 30.0 percent.

Guard/wing play lacking

One of the few bright spots was freshman forward Josh Davis scoring a career-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and matching his career-best with six rebounds in a career-high 31 minutes. Davis earned his second straight start because Degand is still nursing a thigh bruise and sophomore C.J. Williams has fallen out of the rotation.

Other than Davis, who along with freshman centers DeShawn Painter and Jordan Vandenberg were the only Wolfpack players to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, the rest of the perimeter play was about as poor as you can possibly get.

Junior point guard Javier Gonzalez went 1 of 8 from the field, had just two points, a steal and a rebound to go with four fouls and two turnovers in 17 minutes. His backup, sophomore Julius Mays, did not do much either. Mays missed all four shot attempts, grabbed a defensive board, had a steal and three fouls in 16 minutes.

Mays is clearly mired in a slump ever since he scored a season-high 17 points in the loss to Clemson Jan. 16. Since that game, Mays is averaging 2.0 points per contest. In his last three games Mays has shot 1 for 17 from the field, and he is 1-of-20 shooting on threes since making 3 of 6 against Holy Cross Jan. 6.

Mays is not the only Wolfpack perimeter player slumping though. Freshman wing [db]Scott Wood[/db] made just 1 of 7 shots, misfiring on both three-point attempts, and finished with just four points. Wood has shot 10 of 45 from the field in his last six games, 9 for 31 on three-pointers.

Degand has cooled off in the last five games he has played in as well. He scored just two points against Virginia Tech, making both of his free throw attempts after misfiring on all four field goal tries, including three three-pointers. Degand is averaging just 4.2 points per game in the last five contests, shooting 7 of 26 from the field in that time frame and 3 of 11 on three-pointers.

The fact that the first Wolfpack points from a guard came on a lay-up by Gonzalez with 12:46 left in the game is not good.

Not State's night

Perhaps the pregame was a bad omen for NC State. While star junior forward [db]Tracy Smith was vomiting because of an illness, freshman forward Richard Howell rubbed into something sharp while walking onto the court for pregame warm-ups and needed stitches to close the dash in his leg. Howell was due to start, but he ended up playing just three minutes off the bench.

Senior forward Dennis Horner got the start, and along with Davis represented the bright spot of the evening for NC State. Horner finished with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, although he also had a game-high six turnovers.

Smith would battle for 12 points, seven boards and three blocks, but he clearly fell ill several times during the game and would need an IV afterward.

Spotted at the game

The baseball team was honored during the first half. Among the baseball players on the court was football quarterback Russell Wilson. Also honored were former basketball players Dereck Whittenberg (in person) and Nate McMillian (via video).

The dance team was also spotted for their usual routine on the court, but on a night where nothing was going right for the Pack, even that was an adventure. The wrong music was played twice, and the dance team had to wait until the next timeout to work their routine.

That may not have been the most embarrassing moment though for the cheer squad. The lead cheerleader carrying the "W" flag while leading the team onto the court for the second half tripped and fell on the court while running underneath State's basket. Fortunately he was okay.

What the loss means

NC State falls to 14-11 overall and 2-8 in the ACC. The best the Pack can hope for is a .500 record in conference play, and with only six games left they would need to sweep the remaining regular season contests to reach 20 wins before the ACC Tournament.

Virginia Tech improved to 19-4 and 6-3 in the ACC, and the Hokies are making a strong case that they should be included in the nation's top 25 polls. NC State holds the overall advantage in the series 34-12, 23-7 at home venues. This was the first time since joining the ACC that Virginia Tech beat State in Raleigh, and it's also the first win at NC State since the 1940-41 season. Virginia Tech has now won two in a row against State after the Pack had won 17 of the previous 19 meetings. NC State is 6-3 against Virginia Tech in ACC action.

Other stats of note

- NC State set a season-high with 45 rebounds compared to Virginia Tech's 37, and the Pack had a monster night on the offensive glass with 27. The Hokies had nine, so it's not surprising that the Pack had a 12-5 edge in second chance points.
- Virginia Tech blocked 12 shots, the most a Wolfpack opponent has rejected in a game this year. NC State had just five blocks.
- While NC State shot just 28.6 percent, Virginia Tech made 52.9 percent of their shots. That's the second highest allowed by State this year, and the fourth time in the last five ACC games the Pack let its opponent shoot over 50.0 percent.
- Virginia Tech had 16 turnovers compared to 15 for the Pack, but the Hokies had a decisive 23-14 advantage in points off turnovers. Virginia Tech was also much better in transition despite both teams getting just four steals. The Hokies had a 15-2 edge in fast break points.
- Virginia Tech had a 34-30 advantage in points in the paint.
- The Hokies reserves outscored State's 16-9.



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