RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Engin Atsur had 18 points, center Jordan
Collins made a career-high three 3-pointers and scored 14 and North
Carolina State dominated almost from the start to beat Virginia
Tech 74-54 Saturday.
The Wolfpack (16-11, 6-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) won despite
the struggles of leading scorer Julius Hodge, who had only eight
points, about 10 below his average. He was 2-of-8 from the field --
including three missed layups -- and again had troubles at the free
throw line, making only 4-of-8.
But he helped out in other ways, finishing with eight rebounds
and five assists, and he also set the tone on defense. Hodge led an
inspired effort that held the Hokies (14-11, 7-7) to 38 percent
shooting and their lowest point total since an 85-51 loss to North
Carolina back in December.
It was the easiest victory for N.C. State since several early
season, non-conference blowouts, and the outcome was decided early
enough for coach Herb Sendek to get some playing time for walk-ons
Will Roach and Braxton Albritton. Roach brought what was left of
the crowd to its feet with a nifty bounce pass to fellow senior
Levi Watkins, who finished off a backdoor cut with a layup.
Watkins missed the previous six games with a knee injury, and he
just started running and shooting earlier in the week.
Zabian Dowdell had 12 points for Virginia Tech, which still
could solidify its resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA
tournament with victories over Clemson and Maryland. Regardless of
the outcome, coach Seth Greenberg's team clearly has overachieved
this season -- this one just didn't live up to that standard.
The Hokies jumped to a 4-0 lead, then went nearly 7½ minutes
without scoring. N.C. State point guard Tony Bethel had a pair of
3s during a 17-0 run, and Ilian Evtimov added another. For the
game, the Wolfpack made 11-of-22 from beyond the arc, giving them
36 in the past three games.
All this came without any scoring from Hodge. He didn't take his
first shot until about 7½ minutes were left in the first half, and
he missed his first four. Finally, he drove inside for a reverse
layup, and he found Collins all alone just before the end of the
half for a 3-pointer to make it 33-20 at the break.
That came after Collins had clanged his first two long-range
jumpers off the rim. He made his first two of the second half, and
Hodge followed the second one with two free throws to cap 10
unanswered points to give N.C. State a 46-26 lead.
Virginia Tech got no closer than 17 the rest of the way.