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No. 15 Virginia drops 68-61 stinker at home against NC State

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Hoos shoot terribly and struggle defensively in fourth conference loss of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Virginia Cavaliers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak after falling at home to NC State on Wednesday night. Virginia fell behind early, climbed back to take a lead in the second half, but couldn’t get enough from the offense or the defense. Offensively, the Cavaliers struggled immensely one game after shooting lights out in a loss at Duke. Against NC State, the Hoos went 20-for-54 from the field (37%) and only made 28% of their threes.

Sam Hauser led Virginia with 21 points, but no one seemed to get into any rhythm whatsoever as they looked out of sync all night. Jay Huff added 19 points and 11 rebounds. Defensively, NC State made the pack line look porous as they shot 45% with 30 points in the paint. Only 15 points for the Wolfpack came from three as they went 23-for-28 at the free throw line.

With two regular season games left, Virginia is hitting a lull at a terrible time (not that there’s ever a good time for a lull). There shouldn’t be any real concern over the NCAA tournament, but this is the least cohesive the team has looked all season.

For the first time this year, Virginia had zero fans in attendance. At every other home game this pandemic season, there were at least 200 friends and family at JPJ (the state cap was 250). With cases spiking in Charlottesville, the school said even that was too many.

The two teams traded misses to open the game with NC State taking the early 3-0 lead after freshman Cam Hayes connected on a three with just under 18 minutes to play. The Wolfpack would get out to a 5-0 advantage before Huff got a turnaround jumper to fall, but slow rotation defensively left Hayes wide open for another three.

NC State built its lead to seven after Hellems hit the team’s third three in as many tries. Nothing was going in for Virginia as the Cavaliers started the game shooting 2-for-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from three as the Wolfpack took a double-digit advantage. Caffaro ended a 5:12 drought to cut it to 11, but NC State responded immediately to make it 19-6. Hauser’s first of the game came on a jumper from the free throw line on his sixth attempt of the game.

McKoy followed a miss from Morsell to make it an 11-point game once again. NC State doubled up Virginia at 24-12 before Clark hit the team’s first three of the game with just under five minutes remaining in the half. Six straight points from Huff cut State’s lead to four, but Funderburk got a tough shot at the rim to fall to make it 27-21 with 1:46 remaining in the first half.

Clark tried to find Huff in transition, but turned it over instead. State took advantage with a two, and Beekman hit a shot just before the buzzer to send the two teams into the break with the Cavaliers trailing 29-23.

It was a small miracle that Virginia was only trailing by six at halftime considering how poorly they shot in the first half. The Hoos went a paltry 10-for-27 (37%) from the field and 1-for-9 (11%) from three, with Huff scoring a team-high eight points.

Virginia scored first in the second half as Hauser connected for his first three of the game to cut the deficit to three. Just over one minute later, Hauser tied things up at 29 with his second three of the half. NC State broke the tie with two free throws, and the two teams traded points at the line before Huff gave the Hoos their first lead of the game at 35-33 with 14:30 left.

A free throw and a Beverly three put the Wolfpack back on top, 37-35, and NC State would rattle off eight straight to take a six point lead. Hauser drove the baseline for a tough make at the rim, but Moore responded on the other end. Huff cut the deficit to six on a gorgeous pass from Murphy, but the defense gave up another layup to keep the Wolfpack at arms’ length.

Every shot Virginia made was met with one on the other end, and the Cavaliers couldn’t cut into the deficit. A Hauser three made it a five-point game with 3:30 to play, but Hayes banked in a prayer with two seconds on the shot clock, over Huff, from the edge of the logo to make it 57-49. NC State kept Virginia at bay until some late threes by Hauser, but a look to pull within one bounced up and off the rim with 10 seconds left.

Next up, Virginia has a bit of a break with no game this weekend. They host Miami on Monday night at 6pm. The game will be on the ACC Network.