It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but the No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers overcame sloppy play to take down No. 23 NC State in overtime. The Hoos move to 19-1 (7-1 ACC) with the win, while State drops to 16-5 (4-4 ACC).
Virginia’s ball security was terrible as the Hoos turned it over 16 times—twice their average coming into the game—and gifted State 17 points off of those turnovers. Offensive rebounding by the Wolfpack also caused problems for the Hoos, giving up 13 points on 16 offensive boards.
Every time the Cavaliers seemed to get comfortable and make a run, the Wolfpack would cause turnovers and hit big shots to get right back in the mix. Although there’s a lot to dislike and learn from in this game, there’s something to be said for weathering a hostile environment and sloppy play and still somehow coming up with the win.
De’Andre Hunter led the team with 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting and a 6-for-8 performance from the free throw line. Hunter fouled out with 0.9 seconds to play on a major mental mistake, but he was bailed out when Markell Johnson missed a crucial free throw. Ty Jerome added 12 points on 5-for-11 shooting (2-for-4 from three) with six assists, but he turned the ball over four times.
Kyle Guy, who struggled mightily from the field for most of the game, finished with 10 points and hit a huge three pointer (his only of the game) to put break a tie in overtime with 2:00 remaining.
Virginia got eight points from each of Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff, and Braxton Key, and five huge points from Jack Salt. For the second straight game, Diakite registered four blocks in the game.
As a team, Virginia shot 46% from the field and 40% from three. After taking just one three-pointer in the first half (which was missed), Virginia went 4-for-9 in the second half and overtime.
Johnson led NC State with 14 points, followed by Wyatt Walker with 11 points and seven rebounds. Walker was a monster on the glass, and he drew several offensive fouls to swing momentum at times during the game. NC State shot 34% from the field for the game and 27% from three. The Wolfpack took care of the ball well, only turning the ball over eight times in the game.
NC State won the opening tip, but turned the ball over on the baseline. Hunter kicked off the scoring with an easy dunk after the Virginia offense calmly broke full court pressure and lulled the Wolfpack defense into a false sense of security. State missed a three, but a travel call on the Hoos gave it right back to the Wolfpack. A C.J. Bryce jumper evened the score at two, but Jerome put Virginia ahead once more with a smooth jumper.
Diakite slipped his defender for a lay-in to make it 6-2 with 17:06 left to play, but Braxton Beverly connected for the first three-pointer of the game to pull the Wolfpack within one. Two free throws from Guy gave Virginia a three-point advantage, and an easy dunk from Diakite made it 10-5. Another defensive stop by the Hoos led to a Jerome floater, but a Devon Daniels three closed the Pack within four points.
Huff narrowly missed getting possession as he dove for a loose ball at mid-court, but hustled back into the play to break up an alley-oop attempt to give Virginia a chance to build on its lead. Hunter was fouled going to the basket and made one-of-two at the line to put the Hoos up 13-8 with 12:26 left in the first half.
After corralling a rebound in traffic on the defensive end, Key got free for the easy layup on the offensive end to to give the Hoos a seven-point lead. Beverly connected with his second three of the half to pull State back within four, but another easy look at the basket from Diakite made it 17-11 with 10:29 remaining in the half. Markell Johnson got his first bucket of the game to keep the pressure on the Hoos, and a missed three fro Guy gave State a chance to pull closer.
A Daniels layup pulled the Wolfpack within two, and the crowd erupted as Virginia turned the ball over on a shotclock violation. Wyatt Walker tied the game at 17 after NCSU pulled down consecutive offensive rebounds. Virginia’s defense held for three straight trips before the offense was able to end a 5+ minute scoring drought with a bucket from Hunter. State missed on the offensive end again, and Salt finished through contact from Walker. He hit the free throw for the old school three-point play, putting the Hoos up 22-17.
Guy came up with a steal and drew the foul in transition going to the basket. He made one of two from the line, and the defense forced State into a shot clock violation on the other end. The Hoos turned it over—their seventh of the half—and Torin Dorn pulled the Wolfpack within four with a runner in the lane.
Jay Huff took off from downtown Raleigh for a dunk off of a feed from Guy to make it 25-19, but Walker brought the Pack within four with two free throws with 1:14 to play.
A Dorn jumper and a layup by Key sent Virginia into the break with a 27-23 lead after a hard fought first half.
Virginia shot 61% in the first half, but went 0-for-1 from three. NC State, conversely, only shot 32% from the field, but connected on three of their 12 attempted threes. The real difference in the first half was Virginia turning the ball over an uncharacteristic eight times—leading to six points for NC State—and State getting seven second chance points off of seven offensive rebounds.
The Hoos moved the ball well in the first half, assisting nine of their 11 made baskets. Diakite led the Hoos in the first half with six points, followed by Hunter with five, and Jerome and Key with four each. Beverly led the Wolfpack with six points in the first half.
Guy was unable to finish a beautiful move at the rim, and, after a missed three by Beverly, Diakite was called for a 10 second violation. The refs whistled Salt for his third foul of the game, sending Walker to the line where he made one to pull the Pack within three. Jerome connected for Virginia’s first three of the game to return the lead to six. He missed his next three attempt, but hard work on the glass from Key and Diakite eventually led to a kick out three for Hunter to make it 33-24 with 17:18 remaining.
Solid defense from the Hoos led to a forced shot by State, and a long two by Guy gave Virginia their first double-digit lead at 11. A turnover by Guy led to a run out from Bryce, but Huff answered with another dunk thanks to a gorgeous feed by Hunter. Jerome drove the lane for a layup just before the shot clock expired to put the Hoos up three, and a block by Huff neutralized a shot attempt by DJ Funderburk.
Another lazy pass led to a runout for Funderburk, but he missed the free throw to complete the and-one. On the free throw, Hunter and Johnson got tangled up, leading to a double foul and possession for State. NCSU turned it over, and Jerome made them pay with his second (team’s third) three of the second half to put Virginia up 42-28 with just over 12 minutes remaining.
Two straight buckets from the Wolfpack after Virginia tried to push in transition made it a 10 point game with 11:07 remaining. Hunter made two free throws, but Johnson connected for a three pointer to pull the Pack within nine. One of two at the line for Hunter was answered with another State three, lighting a fire under the PNC Arena crowd.
NC State made it a six point game again with just over 8:30 to play thanks to a free throw from Bryce, and Jerome was unable to make a two fall on the other end. Walker pulled State within four at 45-41 as the Wolfpack continued a 6-0 run.
Hunter quieted the crowd momentarily with a tough jumper, but Dorn answered on the other end despite a hand in his face. Salt got bodied under the bucket by Beverly, but somehow still got the shot to fall. He missed the free throw, keeping Virginia’s advantage at six.
Diakite rebounded his own miss for a put-back and the eight point lead, and Daniels missed a three on the other end to give Virginia a chance to add to their lead. Guy missed a good look at a three-pointer, but Dorn didn’t, closing the Pack within six. After a couple offensive rebounds, Guy finally got a shot to fall to make it 53-46 with 4:37 to play.
Walker drew his third charge of the game for Hunter’s fourth foul. On the next possession, Walker pulled in an offensive board for a put back to keep the pressure on Virginia. Diakite missed a jumper, and Dorn made it a three point game at 53-50 with 2:31 to play. Virginia’s 14th turnover led to a run out from Dorn, and a block by Walker led to a run out and foul called on the other end. Walker tied the game at 53, but missed the second.
Salt followed a miss by Hunter for the two-point lead, but fouled out on the other end as he sent Johnson to the line with a chance to tie the game with just under 30 seconds left. He made the first, and tied the game at 55 with the second. Jerome had a chance for the game winner with two seconds left, but it rimmed out, sending the game to overtime.
NC State got the ball first in OT, and Johnson wasted no time putting the Wolfpack in front for the first time with a three. Key found Huff for an alley-oop plus the foul, and the redshirt second year canned the free throw to tie it once again at 58. Johnson was called for a carry on State’s next possession, and Huff went back to the line after drawing a foul on Walker driving to the basket. Huff missed the first and made the second, giving Virginia the slight lead at 59-58.
Key blocked Daniels’s shot attempt on the defensive end, and drew contact on the other end. He made both, putting Virginia up by three with 3:16 to play in the extra period. Walker drew a foul on the other end, making one at the free throw line. Huff was called for pushing off (again, on Walker), and Johnson drew a foul on Jerome to get to the line again. He made both, tying the game once again, this time at 61.
Outstanding ball movement found Guy for his first three of the game, putting the Hoos up 64-61. Eric Lockett was unable to answer the three on the other end, but Jerome forced a bad pass for a turnover with 1:11 to play.
Dorn’s jumper went wide off the rim, and Hunter was able to pull in the rebound. Guy got a good look off of an elevator screen, but it went wide for an airball with just under 20 seconds left. Despite extra effort, Key was unable to save the ball, giving State a third chance to tie the game.
Beverly found the bottom of the twine with a two-point floater in the lane to make it 64-63 with 7.7 seconds left in OT. Virginia got the ball into Hunter who was able to burn 2.5 seconds off the clock before being fouled and making both to put the Hoos up three. Johnson lofted up a prayer, but Hunter fouled him to send him to the line for three free throws to attempt to tie the game with 0.9 seconds left. Hunter fouled out on the play.
Johnson missed the first and made the second before Virginia called a timeout. He would make the third, but the Cavaliers were able to get the ball inbounds to Guy who threw it down the court as time expired.
Next up, Virginia returns home to the friendly confines of JPJ to take on Miami on Saturday.