by Mike Potter
RBC CENTER/RALEIGH Exactly why ESPNU wanted N.C. State's home game against Virginia Tech to go opposite the always-televised Duke-UNC showdown is anyone's guess, but that's the situation tonight.
The Hokies need to keep winning to stay in good position with the NCAA Selection Committee, while the Wolfpack needs to keep winning at home to keep alive a decent shot at a winning season.
State has a huge lead in the series, won here two years ago and took the Hokies to overtime in Blacksburg last season. Tech has never won an ACC conference game in Raleigh, and in fact hasn't beaten the Wolfpack here since 1917.
That all comes to an end on a very rough night for the Wolfpack, which falls 72-52.
It's just bad omen night all around for the home team, as Richard Howell suffers a deep cut to his leg in an accident in an arena corridor and has to get stitches. He plays three minutes. And the Wolfpack's top two scorers Tracy Smith and Dennis Horner (pictured) are, erm, losing protein because of some flu-like symptoms.
The Hokies take control from the beginning, hitting their first 10 shots and taking a 26-7 lead on a J.T. Thompson layup with 10:59 to go.
It's 34-23 at halftime and State really makes one run, as Horner's layup cuts the margin to 38-31 with 17:50 to go. Tech responds with a 9-1 run and it's never closer than 13 thereafter.
Tech shoots a very nice 52.9 percent to the Wolfpack's 28.6, as State misses all 11 of its 3-point attempts. That ends a streak of 654 straight games with a 3-pointer for the Wolfpack, the last time before that being a four-overtime, 110-103 win over Wake Forest on the Deacons' then-home court at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Dorenzo Hudson leads the Hokies with 23 points followed by Malcolm Delaney with 15, Jeff Allen 14 and J.T. Thompson 12.
Horner finishes with 13 points and 16 rebounds for the first double-double of the senior's career, while Smith and freshman Josh Davis hit 12 apiece.
State wins the rebound battle 45-37 on the strength of 27 offensive boards, and commits 15 turnovers to the Hokies' 16. But Tech blocks 12 shots, 10 of them in the first half.
They said it ...
NCSU coach Sidney Lowe: "Our perimeter guys got 22 shots off, but you have to shoot the ball better to take pressure away from the bigs. They know they're going to get looks. We have to make some shots and better decisions. (Tech) just executed and got open looks. I wasn't pleased with our aggression tonight. They were much more physical than us. They're a very good team."
Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg: "We defended consistently. I thought we did a great job of defending the 3-point line. We made shots and a lot of guys contributed. Our guys had fun, and our preparation and practice were good. They're starting to see the possibilities. I think they're having fun and they should be."
Davis: "I'm not really sure what's going on. We've got to practice and work harder. We can't keep doing this. We've got to have intensity from the get-go. We can't just have spurts in the middle of the game. We've got to play the whole game."
What does it all mean?
That the Hokies are right on the verge of a 20-win season, while the Wolfpack may need a miracle to play in a post-season tournament.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Allen's steal off Farnold Degand ending in a dunk to make it 59-42 with 7:10 to go.
NCSU leads 34-12.
NCSU: Lost 3.
VT: Won 3.
NCSU at UNC, Sunday, 4 p.m.
Va. Tech vs. Virginia, Sunday, 8 p.m.