It certainly wasn’t always pretty, but the No. 14 Virginia men’s basketball team went on the road to NC State and picked up a 64-57 win over NC State to improve to 12-3 on the season. Virginia, which is on top of the ACC with an 8-1 record, extended its lead to 1.5 games over FSU and Virginia Tech.
The Cavaliers led by as many as nine in the game, but NC State used an extended scoring drought by Virginia to charge back and take a 44-43 lead with just under seven minutes to play. UVA would score 20 points over the final 6:37, retaking the lead for good thanks to a free throw from Trey Murphy with 5:58 to play. Murphy and Sam Hauser scored 18 points apiece in the win, with Jay Huff adding 12 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Virginia shot 46% from the field and 35% from three and added 18 points at the free throw line. The Hoos went 20-for-22 (91%) from the charity stripe, taking advantage when their shooting went missing in action for a stretch in the second half. Overall, the Hoos finished with a 1.103 points per possession (PPP) mark for the game.
The turnover bug reared its head again as Virginia turned it over 11 times, but seven of them came in the first half. NC State turned those 11 turnovers into 12 points.
NC State got a huge game out of Jericole Hellems as the junior forward dropped 23 points, one shy of his career-high. He was the only player for State to hit double-digits, and the Wolfpack shot 43% from the field (buoyed by a 52% mark in the second half). NCSU grabbed an astonishing 11 offensive boards, but only got two second chance points.
Hellems put State on top to open all scoring with a three from the top of the arc. Huff responded with a drive through the lane for a commanding dunk after a pump-fake on a three attempt. A three from Clark gave Virginia a two-point advantage for a brief moment before NCSU evened things up on a Bates dunk.
The two teams traded baskets before Murphy connected on his first three of the game to put the Hoos up 14-11. Beverly cut Virginia’s advantage to one, but Hauser went back-to-back with a jumper as the shot clock expired and a three as the Hoos jumped to a 19-13 lead with 10:23 to play. State had a bucket taken off the board after it was deemed a shot clock violation, but Virginia couldn’t take advantage.
State cut Virginia’s lead back to one with a three and steal that led to an easy transition bucket. A 9-0 run by the Wolfpack put them up 22-19 with five minutes to play in the first half as the Hoos struggled to get any shots to fall and turned the ball over four times in 6:33 of game time. Huff broke a scoring drought of the same length with a three from his favorite spot to tie the game at 22.
Back-to-back easy buckets from Murphy and Beekman gave the Hoos a four-point cushion, and Beekman hit two free throws to put Virginia up 28-22 with 46 seconds left in the half. State got a jumper to fall, and Huff couldn’t connect on a three as the clock expired, sending the teams into the break with Virginia holding a 28-24 advantage.
Virginia shot 53% from the field and 50% from three, but turned it over six times and allowed State to grab eight offensive rebounds. Hauser led Virginia with 11 points in the first half on 4-for-5 shooting. Murphy and Huff each had five points, and Beekman grabbed five boards. Clark had four assists, but accounted for half of the Cavaliers’ turnovers.
NC State was unable to take advantage of the extra possessions gifted to them via turnovers and offensive rebounds in the first half as they shot 34% from the field. Hellems led all scorers with 14 points, and Beverly added four.
After its 6+ minute scoring drought, Virginia closed the half on a 9-2 run.
Hauser opened the second half scoring with two free throws, pushing Virginia’s lead back to six. Bates cut into the lead with a made free throw, but Murphy hit his second three of the game to give the Hoos their biggest lead of the game at 33-25. A hustle play by Beekman defensively ended a State scoring threat, and Beekman would get the hoop and harm on a fast-break that put Virginia up 36-27.
State wouldn’t go away, however. The Wolfpack cut it back to five points twice, but the Hoos responded on the offensive end with a Huff righty hook putting Virginia up 41-33 with just under 14 minutes to play. Another nine-point lead turned back into a four-point advantage after a three-point play and fast break dunk for State.
An 10-0 run gave State the 44-43 lead with just under seven minutes to play as Virginia missed seven straight shots and turned it over three times over a seven minute span. Hauser tied things and gave Virginia the lead right back from the free throw line, but the two teams started trading the lead as Hellems gave the Wolfpack the advantage right back with a jumper.
Murphy returned the favor at the free throw line, and Clark came up with a huge steal that led to a much-needed three from Hauser to put Virginia back in front 50-46 with 5:38 remaining. Clark and Huff got back-to-back buckets to make it a seven-point game once again, and Murphy made it a 7-0 run as the Hoos took a 57-48 lead.
Hellems kept State in the game with a three to cut the lead to six with just under three minutes remaining. Virginia came up with two badly needed offensive rebounds, the latter of which sent Murphy to the line where he pushed Virginia’s lead back to eight with 2:34 to play.
One made free throw by Clark gave the Hoos a seven point lead, but Thomas Allen’s three with three seconds left on the shot clock and Murphy’s hand in his face kept the Wolfpack within striking distance with just over a minute left. After breaking the press, Huff found Murphy for a dunk. The two teams traded free throws with Beverly making one for NC State and Murphy hitting both of his on the other end to make it 64-57 with 28 seconds left.
NC State would attempt one three — a miss off the front iron by Beverly — and Clark would burn the rest of the clock for the win.
Next up, Virginia will host Pittsburgh on Saturday, a change in the schedule. The Hoos were supposed to be facing Louisville, but the Cards had to go on a pause with a positive coronavirus test. The game will still be at 4pm, and will be televised by ESPN.