The NC State men’s basketball team (11-5 2-3 ACC) faced off against the Virginia Tech Hokies (12-4 3-2 ACC) on Saturday, Jan. 11 in Cassell Coliseum. After what seemed like a promising start to the game at 10-2 for the Pack, it all went downhill from there. As soon as VT got the lead, it never looked back as it dominated NC State 72-58.
If you can recall last season when these two teams tipped off against each other, NC State put up one of the lowest-scoring games in school history with 24 points as the Hokies won with 47 points. So coming into this game, NC State had the weight of one of the worst games it had played and the stress of losing footing in the ACC on its mind. Clearly, the stress got to the players because not one member of the starting five scored double digits.
NC State’s shooting was abysmal in this game, shooting only 20% from beyond the arch and 31.9% from the field. Throughout the game, players kept shooting the 3 whether they were wide open or heavily contested, and practically none of them fell. The starting five can be held accountable for the terrible offensive effort, specifically sophomore forward Jerricole Hellems, senior guard Markell Johnson and junior guard Braxton Beverly. Shooting 2 for 14, 2 for 14 and 2 for 7, respectively, they couldn’t get anything to fall the entire game. It certainly didn’t help that redshirt senior forward C.J. Bryce, NC State’s star player, was out during the game, as the offense could’ve really used his work ethic and skill this game.
Johnson, who scored 27 points last game against Notre Dame, put up only five against Virginia Tech. It’s widely known that Johnson doesn’t play his best on the road, but he needs to get out of that mindset if he wants State to win any games away from PNC. Not every player underperformed; redshirt freshman forward Manny Bates added to his already record-breaking season with two blocks, and bench players, junior forward D.J. Funderburk and senior forward Pat Andree, were the only players who scored in double-digits.
The star of the game, and the star of Virginia Tech, was freshman guard Landers Nolley II. Putting up 29 points and 7 rebounds, he was a walking bucket from everywhere on the court; shooting 57% from 3 and 90% from the charity stripe. Nolley II was practically unguarded by NC State the entire game. His teammate, freshman guard Tyrece Radford, had himself a game too, putting up 18 points and 9 rebounds, almost a double-double.
Both teams experienced dry spells throughout the game, going through minutes of playtime where not a single point was scored. But Virginia Tech picked up the pace in the last six minutes as it stretched its lead. By far not their best game, but the Hokies still managed to pull out a win against a quality ACC team. This loss for NC State will knock them down in the ACC standings, but the Pack has a chance to bounce back as the next couple of teams it faces will be lower-level ACC teams.
The Wolfpack will face off against the Miami Hurricanes at PNC arena next Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.