It is exceptionally difficult to come back from down double digits to Virginia, but NC State managed to do just that in the second half on Tuesday night—it’s a credit to the Wolfpack’s toughness, but this time it wasn’t enough. Virginia snuck out of town with a one-point victory.
Markell Johnson had a chance to tie the game with three free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime, but missed the first, forcing State to attempt a desperation bucket off a missed free throw ... which of course Markell accidentally made. Hey, what can ya do.
Kyle Guy delivered the dagger for the Cavaliers in the extra period, draining a corner three with the score knotted at 61 late. It wasn’t the first time he’s delivered that sort of clutch shot for the Hoos.
NC State did a surprisingly good job throughout the night of hounding Virginia into mistakes and finished with the advantage in the turnover category. Turnovers helped keep the Wolfpack within striking distance despite a terrible shooting start in the first half. The four-point halftime deficit could have been much worse.
The deficit got much worse as UVA found a groove in the second half, but give State tons of credit, it didn’t quit and a late rally was nearly enough to deliver an upset win in regulation. So close.
Virginia’s defense is designed to both force a lot of threes and also make them tough looks. The Cavs are better than anyone in the country at forcing awful possessions, and the Pack certainly had its share. There were multiple stretches of ugliness, and that’s why Virginia is such a difficult team to beat.
NC State doesn’t get to feel sorry for itself after this one, though—there’s no time for that with Virginia Tech up next.