NC State shoots season-best 67 percent from field

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Engin Atsur scored 20 points and North Carolina State shot a season-high 67 percent to beat Virginia Tech (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today) 81-56 on Sunday.

Ben McCauley added 16 points for the Wolfpack (14-11, 4-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who put on a dazzling shooting display to earn a season sweep of the Hokies. The Wolfpack shot 32 of 48 from the field and 11 of 15 from 3-point range to wow the home crowd, easily surpassing its previous high of 63.4 percent set in a win against Delaware State.

That helped the Wolfpack build a 30-point second-half lead and earn one of its most impressive victories under first-year coach Sidney Lowe.

Jamon Gordon scored 13 points for the Hokies (18-8, 8-4), who could have moved into a first-place tie with North Carolina and Virginia atop the league with a win.

The Wolfpack took the first meeting 70-59 on Jan. 31, the Hokies' only home loss in 12 games this season. That win looked to be the start of something bigger when NC State followed with an 83-79 upset of North Carolina a few days later.

But the Wolfpack hadn't won since, losing at Georgia Tech and Miami and then at home against Maryland to erase any longshot chance of making the NCAA Tournament. The last two losses had been by 15 points each.

But NC State came out with a scorching hot hand to end the skid, hitting 10 of its first 11 shots and shooting 69 percent in the first half to build a 45-33 lead at the break. The Wolfpack then came out of halftime the same way it started the game, hitting 11 of 12 shots to turn the game into a laugher.

NC State got any shot it wanted. Atsur knocked down open 3-pointers. McCauley tossed up a fadeaway hook shot that bounced on the rim before dropping through. Brandon Costner drained a long 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired. Gavin Grant threw down a two-handed slam in transition while being hit in the head by defender Cheick Diakite, then found a cutting Courtney Fells with a perfect pass for a layup.

By the time Grant knocked down a 3 from in front of the Wolfpack bench, NC State led 71-41 on 29-for-38 shooting (76.3 percent) with 11:15 left.

And just for good measure, the Wolfpack got a pair of shot-clock beating baskets -- a jumper from Fells and a 3 from Grant -- after the Hokies had twice cut the deficit to 20 points.

Atsur finished 8-for-10 from the floor with seven assists, while Grant had 15 points, Fells had 14 and Costner had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

This was not the way the Hokies wanted to follow their 81-80 overtime win at North Carolina, which gave them a season sweep of the Tar Heels. The Hokies shot 48 percent for the game, but never had any defensive answer for the Wolfpack's shooting frenzy.

Zabian Dowdell, who came in averaging 18 points per game, finished with nine for Virginia Tech.