Strong Second Half Lifts Cavaliers Over NC State 59-47
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Mike Scott scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Virginia held North Carolina State scoreless for more than 7 minutes on the way to a 59-47 victory Wednesday night.
Virginia (14-6, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) regained a share of first place in the conference with No. 10 Duke, and completed a season sweep of the series with the Wolfpack.
North Carolina State (14-9, 2-6) led 28-25 at halftime, but managed just 19 points in the second half, none during a stretch when Virginia turned a 32-29 deficit into a 40-32 lead. Scott had four points and Jerome Meyinsse three in the Cavaliers’ 11-0 run. The Wolfpack never got closer than six points the rest of the game.
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett was pleased with his team’s defensive effort in the second half.
“I was proud of how we stepped up and defended,” Bennett said after the game. “We were way too indecisive in the first half and gave up way too many points in the paint. We did not have a sense of urgency. At halftime I really challenged them hard, I said, ‘that’s not who we are or who we have to be.’ They worked a lot harder and were more together defensively in the second half, and I thought that with some of the guys being a little cold tonight, that second half defense won it for us. I like to see that, it was good how much they battled.”
Scott’s double-double was his fourth of the season and the 14th of his career.
Mustapha Farrakhan added 11 points and Meyinsse 10 for Virginia, while Sylven Landesberg failed to score in double figures for the first time this season, finishing with seven. But Landesberg, who shot 2-for-10, did contribute a career-high nine assists and had six rebounds. Meyinsse’s 10 points were a personal ACC career high.
Richard Howell led NC State with 14 points and Tracy Smith had 12.
Virginia shot 40.7 percent (22-54) from the field for the game, including 37.5 percent (6-16) from three-point range, and 69.2 percent (9-13) from the free-throw line. The Cavaliers shot 48.0 percent (12-25) from the field in the second half, including 50.0 percent (3-6) from three-point range.
UVa out-rebounded the Wolfpack 40-30 and the Cavaliers had just eight turnovers in the game. Virginia has had 10 or fewer turnovers in a game 11 times this season.
Bennett was asked about his team being tied for first place in the ACC.
“The kids have responded,” Bennett said. “It is still very early, but the kids have responded and bounced back from a tough loss both times and have battled. It is a good place to be in, but by no means does that mean that we have arrived. I just want them to keep improving. I thought they won in a way today that they haven’t before in the second half. It was with our defense and with some of our key guys not shooting well, so that is a good sign. We won with some foul trouble and cold shooting, but the defense clamped down, and we will take it.”
North Carolina State shot 37.5 percent (18-48) from the field in the game, including 18.2 percent (2-11) from three-point range, and 56.3 percent (9-16) from the free-throw line. The Wolfpack shot just 29.2 percent (7-24) from the field in the second half, including 14.3 percent (1-7) from three-point range.
“I think that the difference in the ball game was the run that [Virginia] made in the second half when Tracy Smith came to the bench because of foul trouble,” NC State head coach Sidney Lowe said. “They made a little run and we had trouble scoring even when Tracy came back in the game. I thought Richard Howell did a good job of helping him, but other than that we didn’t have much help. They hit big shots and we missed them. I thought we were playing well in the first half. They only scored 59 points when they average 71 so I would have thought we’d have a chance, but our perimeter just didn’t play well.”