Virginia Tech rebounded from a loss to Miami by defeating NC State 85-75 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies improved to 17-7 overall and 6-5 in the ACC with the victory. The Wolfpack dropped to 16-8 and 6-5.
After publicly criticizing his team’s defensive effort against Miami, Buzz Williams had his team practice nothing but defense in the days leading up to the NC State game. He also inserted senior guard Devin Wilson into the starting lineup, and the defensive results were much better. NC State was 27-of-62 (43.5%) from the field and 10-of-31 (32.3%) from three-point range.
Despite the defensive-minded Wilson being on the court for 24 minutes, Virginia Tech’s offense didn’t seem to slow down. NC State focused on denying Tech’s three-point shooters the ball, and the Hokies only went 3-of-10 (30%) from the outside. However, that opened up driving lanes for Justin Robinson, and the junior point guard made the Wolfpack pay by finishing with a career-high 32 points. He was 11-of-17 from the field.
Despite his offensive performance, Robinson wasn’t totally pleased by his play. He had five turnovers and was only 8-of-14 from the free throw line, and he noted that he heard his mother yelling at him from the crowd when he missed his third free throw.
“For sure (I could have had 40 points),” Robinson said. “I missed three bunnies (layups) at the rim, and then I missed six free throws. When you add that up, it’s over 40.”
Despite not scoring 40, Robinson led a dominant offensive attack. The Hokies were 33-of-52 (63.5%) from the field, which was the best shooting percentage by any ACC team in an ACC game this season. It was Tech’s second best shooting performance ever in an ACC game, only behind last season’s 67.4% performance against Boston College. Much of that success came because of Robinson’s ability to run the offense and score points.
“He’s the best point guard in the ACC,” Devin Wilson said of Robinson. “There’s no question, in my opinion.”
NC State coach Kevin Keatts was also complimentary of Robinson.
“When you look at it, Robinson was tremendous,” Keatts said. “I thought we didn’t do that great of a job of keeping him out of the lane when you look at it. He was able to get into the paint, found people for open shots and got to the free-throw line 14 times. He was the difference in the game.”
“I thought Devin Wilson was incredible,” Williams said. “He really helped us stay connected in what we are trying to do defensively.”
Virginia Tech controlled the majority of the game. NC State held a brief early lead, and the game settled into a 23-23 tie with 8:50 remaining in the first half. That’s when the Hokies broke it open. Justin Bibbs started things off with a jumper, and that was the first two points of a 12-0 run that saw Tech go up 35-23 with 5:42 left in the half. They went on to lead by as many as 15 points in the opening half before taking a 47-34 lead into the halftime intermission.
Tech’s lead increased to 18 points early in the second half when a Bibbs free throw made the score 55-37 with 17:22 remaining. NC State managed to storm back and cut the lead to 61-55 with 10:52 left, but the Hokies ran off six straight points to take the lead back to 67-55 at the 8:29 mark. From that point on, Tech was never seriously threatened.
The Hokies return to action when they face UVA in Charlottesville on Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:15pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN. College Gameday will be in town, and if the Hoos beat Tech, they will rise to No. 1 in the polls on Monday as a result of Villanova’s loss on Wednesday.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
Wednesday was the Hokies’ eighth sellout of the season and sixth in ACC play. Clemson is the only game remaining with tickets available.
Justin Robinson scored his 900th career point tonight. He currently has 924 points. He scored a career-high 32 points, the team-high 18th time this season he has scored in double figures and the fourth time this season he has scored at least 20 points in a game. This is his first 30-plus point game of his career.
Robinson’s 32 points is the most scored by a Hokie this season and the most by a Hokie since teammate Justin Bibbs scored 32 points vs. Wake Forest on Jan. 13, 2016. The last time a Hokie scored more than 32 points in an ACC game was on Jan. 24, 2013, when Erick Green scored 35 points vs. Virginia. The 32 points tonight is tied for the fifth-most in an ACC game for a Hokie.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 18 points. It is his 16th game in double figures this season.
Justin Bibbs scored 11 points, his 16th game in double figures this season. He moved past Carlos Dixon into 21st place in career scoring at Virginia Tech. Bibbs currently has 1,350 career points.
The 47 points the Hokies scored in the first half are the most this season in an ACC game and the most since Tech scored 47 points in the first half in the regular season finale last season against Wake Forest. The last time the Hokies scored more than 47 points in a half of a regular season ACC game was 53 points in the second half at Boston College last season, Feb. 25, 2017.
The Hokies shot 63.5 percent from the field. The last time Tech shot more than 63.5 percent from the field was Feb. 25, 2017, when the Hokies shot 67.4 percent from the field.