It was only a matter of time before NC State finished one of these games, and after a long stretch of close losses, the Pack finally closed out Virginia Tech in Blacksburg for a 68-63 win. State is tremendously flawed but it absolutely has no quit. That’s been a pretty dependable characteristic of a Kevin Keatts basketball team, and it finally paid dividends on Tuesday as State withstood a 17-0 Virginia Tech run and snapped a five-game losing streak.
State opened up a 29-19 lead before the Hokies big run, but the seven-point lead it produced proved to be the largest lead Virginia Tech would hold as State responded with an 18-2 run of its own. Dereon Seabron posted another double-double with 21 and 10 and was the fuel for NC State down the stretch. The sophomore’s rebounding effort led a critical +10 rebound advantage and +6 offensive rebounding effort. State scored six of its final ten points off offensive rebounds, part of a 10-4 run to close the game.
Terquavion Smith was really good again, particularly in the first half, pouring in four threes and 17 points. Smith is 11 for 22 from three in the last two games. Jericole Hellems rounded out the double figure scorers with 15.
State wasn’t quite as prolific offensively in this game as it was in the previous two, but after giving up back to back +50% shooting games to Miami and Florida State, the Pack held the Hokies to 44% from the field and 34% from three. Keve Aluma and Storm Murphy were the only double figure scorers with 18 and 14, respectively.
Nobody wanted to hear it before but NC State was closer than the record indicated and getting this one was big for the team’s confidence. This is certainly not the basketball team we thought we would see with Manny Bates being out and Casey Morsell and Cam Hayes being mostly non-contributors right now. It’s trying to work through a lot of flaws but it’s heading in the right direction. Seabron, who is functioning as the point guard because nobody else can get the ball moving, has 16 assists over his last three games and has made four of his last eight threes. Smith is heating up as a shooter and Ernest Ross is starting to get more comfortable too. There’s growth happening and we’ll see if State can continue to get better against Clemson on Saturday.