NC State Sends Virginia Tech Packing In ACC Tournament Second Round

Virginia Tech and Grant Basile didn’t have enough in the tank vs. NC State on Wednesday. (Nell Redmond/ACC)

Virginia Tech never had a chance to get going in the second round of the ACC tournament vs. NC State. From the opening tip, the Wolfpack dominated, rarely missed and punched the Hokies squarely in the gut.

NC State flattened Tech in a 97-77 contest on Wednesday night in Greensboro. The Wolfpack shot 64% from the floor in the first half, 62% for the game and blew Tech’s doors off. It scored the most points the Hokies have ever given up in an ACC tournament game, including 53 in the first half.

It didn’t matter that Mike Young’s group tried to make it respectable in the latter portion; the game was seemingly decided by halftime. Tech (19-14) faced its largest deficit of the year – 27 – at intermission, 53-26, and trailed by double figures for close to 30 minutes.

“In the first half, we didn’t come out with fire,” Tech guard Rodney Rice told Tech Sideline after the game. “That’s what we needed to do. That was it right there – that was the whole thing. … We just needed to play with more urgency.”

Terquavion Smith played very well for the Wolfpack against the Hokies. (Nell Redmond/ACC)

Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner combined to outscore Virginia Tech 33-26 in the first half on 13-of-20 shooting. The duo helped NC State (23-9) make seven of its 13 3-point attempts, and the defense against Tech was superb.

The Hokies made just eight of their 25 field goals (32%) and were 1-of-8 from deep in the early stages. They were also outrebounded by 10, 21-11, and turned the ball over seven times. NC State got everything it wanted on both ends of the floor, and Kevin Keatts & Co. had no problem running away with it.

“I thought they played harder than us,” Justyn Mutts said. “For the duration of the game, I thought they just played harder than us. They got a lot of the 50-50 balls, a lot of offensive rebounds. At the end of the day, you can’t win a game giving up the small stuff, even if the team is making every shot they take.”

In the second half, VT was better on the offensive end, but it didn’t matter. Both sides lit it up from the field and were above 60%.

Justyn Mutts may have played his final collegiate game for Virginia Tech and Mike Young. (Nell Redmond/ACC)

In what was potentially his final collegiate game, Justyn Mutts was one of three Hokies in double figures with 15 points (6-of-10 FG). He also grabbed five rebounds and had three assists. Grant Basile finished with 11 points, too.

Rice came alive in the second half, knocking down threes on back-to-back possessions. He scored 15 of his 17 down the stretch, finishing 5-of-7 from long range.

“He’s had such a frustrating year,” Mike Young said. “Certainly, a freshman that had such high hopes, we had such high hopes for, and battled through a number of really difficult injuries. And to get back here and play a cluster of games and play well and be part of the rotation, I think he played 17 minutes last night, his first night in the ACC tournament. I thought he played well. I thought he looked comfortable, and that is a great sign for us moving ahead.”

Though NC State switched a bunch of things and made it difficult, Hunter Cattoor chipped in nine points. Sean Pedulla matched that while Lynn Kidd had six and MJ Collins provided two.

Rodney Rice was Virginia Tech’s leading scorer at the end of the night. (Nell Redmond/ACC)

In the first half, Virginia Tech got into the bonus before the nine-minute mark, which helped. It was 9-of-10 from the stripe before halftime. But it couldn’t stop the explosive attack that was the Wolfpack.

Smith and Joiner, two Second Team All-ACC performers, finished with 30 and 20 points, respectively. Smith was three points shy of his season-high 33 points. Joiner surpassed the 20-point mark for the fifth instance in his last seven games and also had 10 assists. They only had one turnover between them, too, an offensive foul on Smith.

“They can just hit tough shots,” Cattoor said. “At the end of the day, if you feel like you’re playing good defense on them and they can still bang a shot, it doesn’t take a lot for them to get going. One or two shots in the basket and their energy’s up a little bit more, their basket is a little bit bigger for them. … They’re two great players and they lead that team.”

Ebenzer Dowuona gave the Wolfpack a lift with a season-high 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. All of the production for the 6-11 big man came in the first half. It was a team effort for NC State – Jack Clark (11 points), Casey Morsell (six), Breon Pass (six), Greg Gantt (four), Ernest Ross (four) and D.J. Burns Jr. (three) all got on the scoresheet.

It was a group effort on Wednesday for Jarkel Jones and NC State vs. Virginia Tech. (Nell Redmond/ACC)

As it stands, Virginia Tech is on the NIT bubble. It would be a disappointing end to the season, particularly after winning the 2022 ACC championship and advancing to the Big Dance in back-to-back years. It’s been a roller coaster of a year, however. If the Hokies hear their name called at 10 p.m. on Sunday, they’ll be appreciative that they get at least one more opportunity on the floor with their teammates.

“At the end of the day, this is the end of the road for me,” Mutts said, “so to be able to play more games with my guys, it’d be a blessing.”

Box Score: NC State 97, Virginia Tech 77

Virginia Tech transcript: Link

58 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The model for our men’s team is before our eyes w/the women’s team: a great post player in Kitley, a great PG in Amoore and a great athlete on Soule.

  2. Hope Ray Rice comes back next year. I worry he may be frustrated with his first year (injuries not VT’s fault) & be looking to go somewhere with more team talent. He may think he lost a year here and look at our roster for next year and say the same thing a lot of us are saying- we need more ACC level talent. Also need the ever elusive big man (men). No idea what our 7 ft center will be capable of so that’s an unknown at this point.
    Hopefully Mike Jones can be a reassuring influence on Rice. Jones has an impressive resume in his own right. Gotta keep him too!

  3. There are a lot of x’s and o’s we aren’t very good at. Basic stuff. Bad defensively…particularly underneath. Not playing team offense…forcing things. But in the end, Rice said it perfectly and it’s been this team’s problem all year. And coach doesn’t call a timeout until they are down 15. Astounding. Call time out when they are down 6 in the first 5 minutes. You have them, use them, and coach them! Light that fire.

    “In the first half, we didn’t come out with fire,” Tech guard Rodney Rice told Tech Sideline after the game. “That’s what we needed to do. That was it right there – that was the whole thing. … We just needed to play with more urgency.”

    1. That is my (and a lot of people’s) biggest complaint about Coach Young, his “letting the players play their way out of a (growing) deficit” mentality, rather than using a well-placed timeout to coach, and hopefully stem the negative tide. All (a majority, at least) of the great coaches have used the well-place timeout, so he…what, does the opposite? He needs to rethink that strategy, IMO.

        1. Good point-if Coach Young never wins another game, he will be considered a great coach because of that ACC championship.

          GT really screwed up firing Pastner-he won the ACC Championship in 21-no clue what their AD is thinking?

    2. Yeah I agree, you don’t wait until you’re getting steam rolled by 15. By that time your timeout isn’t gonna stop momentum

    3. Agree. This just isn’t a smart basketball team and defensively this a flawed roster.

    4. This team has 3 problems (1) coaching (2) talent and (3) consistency. Remember The days of Seth and Buzz and Jim Weaver a real AD

        1. Nonsense. Weaver was strictly a football guy – from PSU.and a disciple of JoePA who served as football coach and AD. And what was PSU known for under Joe PA but football? Weaver managed the re$ources well from the perspective of the bottom line? He had the budget on a strong footing but what about the program across the board? Bonnie Henrickson who in my mind was an outstanding coach, and classy lady had a solid record (158-62) w/post-season appearends in each of her 7 seasons left over Weaver’s commitment to Women’s basketball. The overall program has achived unprecedented success – on the field as it were – under Whit Babcock’s leadership. As has been poined out elsewhere, we are the ONLY school in the ACC wo win conference championships in football, men’s basketbal and women’s basketball + wrestling, softball indoor and outdoor men’s and women’s track and field titles, w/most of these achievements during Whit’s tenure. We have also hosted NCAA baseball and softball regionals. What are we missing here?

          1. I have really gotten into the other sports you mentioned. Takes a lot of pressure off of my usual historical focus of just football and men’s basketball. It nicely fills in the time gap from basketball to football. And I have been back to VT more in the last two years than in the many years prior. Blacksburg is beautiful in the Spring, city is less crowded, hotels are inexpensive and you get at least 3 games for minimal cost. Still plenty of action at the student hangout spots which is fun to dive into (Top of Stairs). The 410 mile trip seems like nothing now. I know they aren’t revenue sports but they still represent my Hokie passion and so I am appreciative of their success and give Whit credit for that.


    Requiting gem in Rice – certainly scoring but quickness/foot speed evident to match NC St shooters..

    The 2 NC St scorers (2nd team all ACC) and Rice were the fasted players on the court. Critical to defense once technique & positioning are learned. Mutts has foot speed and very long arms These 2 Va Tech players matched opponent speed on defense & scoring for Tech. Importance of foot speed clearly evident in this game and important in future recruiting.

    1. Yeah, you can see Rice’s athleticism and we lack that when competing at higher levels.

  5. I had the misfortune of being at the NCSU game back in early January, O and 1 were relentless, I chalked it up to Cattoor being out but…they’re just relentless, It really wasn’t that close a game, basically tidied up in the last few minutes to make it look close. This game the same, got to a 20 point lead and they just cruised from there. I hope they get an NIT bid, but just do it for fun, because they want to play more, might be good for Ray Rice in particular. Good luck to Justyn Mutts, he has a great story moving up through three levels of collegiate basketball (and credit to Mike for finding these guys…) He’s one of those guys who’ve done yeoman’s work over the years. I’ve got his poster!

  6. The Mike Young finesse, 3 point shooters works in the Wofford league. The jury is still out if it works in the ACC. We saw clearly last night what an athletic, physical team can do to that system. Sure we can win when we shoot lights out in the Cassell, but other than that our ACC results are mediocre. Absence of catching lightning in a bottle last year, the results the past 2 years have been sub par. To echo others, we need more athletic players, and some dawgs. There are no dawgs on this roster.

    1. How is the jury still out, worked pretty well last year and honestly, if Catoor and Rice played the whole year we would have a much higher seed and be the steam roller instead of just getting steam rolled.

      1. Worked pretty well last year? We started in the ditch and worked ourselves out. Same thing this year. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. We must have been watching two different teams. That system works with the cupcakes. The ACC schedule, not so much.

        1. Mike Young’s system worked pretty wll lasy year in the ACC Fianl vs. a legendary coach w/a teams stocked w/McD’s AA’s.

    2. Been saying that since last year. These Guards are too small and too slow to create their own shot in the ACC. They simply cannot get to the rim off the bounce consistently and finish.

    3. Man, people like you are just ridiculous. Just not ready for the ACC home yet. We were ICC champions last year can’t when it every year dude get real.

    4. I generally agree. But, I don’t think of Clemson as very athletic, and they had no problem with NCState. I think NCState got on a hot shooting streak for one game and we were the recipient. Collins and Rice help us with athleticism, so it’s just a matter of getting that level of player every year.

  7. Need to recruit more athletic players, period. Easier said than done, I know, but that is the key.

    1. Let’s all pump the brakes here a bit. First of all, Rodney Rice (not Ray Rice) was the highest rated VT recruit ever. Tell me how many schools do really well well when their perceived best player misses basically the whole season. I’m still waiting. Second, Aluma and to a lesser extent Alleyne are two of the most underrated players in recent memory. Nobody thought we’d take a step back after losing a fringe First Team All ACC player in the middle? Man, that guy could do a lot and allowed Mutts to play where he should. What could Mike Young do this year? Basille is fine offensively but a disaster defensively. He struggled to guard the post and has a very tough time with quicker guys outside. It forces us to switch like crazy and leaves guys open constantly. Next our 50% 3 point shooter, Darius Maddox inexplicably becomes a 22% shooter and then misses the 2nd half of the season. Then Cattoor gets hurt and Rice misses almost the entire season. Credit to Young for getting us to 19 wins. Don’t underestimate how good of a coach he is. Yes, we need more talent but so do most teams…

      1. Finally! Some common sense. Thank you Novahokie!

        It amazes me how quickly Hokie fans forget that CMY won the ACC Tournament last season (no easy task). And now, after a disappointing season (but still a winning one) so many fans are already giving up on him. Give me a break. Virginia Tech isn’t Duke or UNC (whom all the #1 recruits flock to). Lots of unlucky breaks this year. My money is on Coach Young to turn things around next season.

        Go Hokies!

        1. Indeed. Mike Jones had something to do w/recruitng/signing Rice and Buchanana, both WaPo All Met players. We barely saw Rice this season and Buchanan not at all. Jones was instrumenetal in recruiting AJ Swinton who played for him @ DeMatha. Mike Young is almsot 60, not a spring chicken as far as coaches go. I see Jones in our future. Yes, I agree w/hokiecamp. UNC was the #1 pick at the beginning of the season and is unlikely to make the NCAA this year. UVA was a #1 regional seed in 2018 but was knocked off in the first round by a #16 seed. You win some, you lose some. Maybe our expectations were to high this year but after winning the ACC in 1976 as a #6 (of 7 ) seed, the Wahoos were only 2-10 in ACC play the next season. It takes time to build a brand. Too many fair weather fans on this blog..

      2. This was just an adversity year we faced. We’ll be better next year. NC State had that adversity year last year and were way better this year. It’s just the way it works sometimes.

  8. Disappointing way to end the season but this is the way VT has played all year going back to when Catoor got injured. NC St came out firing on all cylinders and playing at a high level of intensity and the team couldn’t match it. Unsure if that’s an issue with the leadership on this team or sharing related to the coaching staff but it’s worth paying attention to over the next year or two.

    Minus the ACC tourney run last year, which was amazing, this team has under performed the past two years. Will be curious to see if they can turn the corner next year or if it’s more of the same.

      1. Agreed, minus the patsies, not sure if we even have a winning record the past two years combined. Against P5 this year for sure – below .500

  9. NCSU’s guards are tough to defend. Real athletic. Seems like VT ran into guys this season who had huge nights against them. If those guards can stay hot the Wolfpack have a shot at winning the ACC. Might go deep into the NCAA tourney as well.

    1. And they shoot from the parking lot and make them consistently. That said…our defense under the basket was like a pee wee team.

    2. and so are Miami’s guards. Note: NCSU’s “fast guards” fell to Clemson who we lost to twice by a combined total of 4 pts. We split w/Syracuse, Duke and UVA, beat UNC when they were the the top pick for the ACC and Pitt when they were in 1st place. There are no easy games in the ACC, esp. on the road (2-8). Two more wins, instead of 5-close losses by a total of 15 pts. would have done the trick. I have to believe that Cattoor and Rice could have made the difference in any of those. But, injuries are part of the game. The margin for error in the ACC is very, very thin.

  10. NCST wanted it more. Our guys even said so themselves. Urgency. Makes no sense. Our guys know the only way to the NCAAT is to win this whole shebang, and they came out flat? Jeez. Unless, deep down, they know they aren’t an NCAAT caliber team and basically said, “There’s only so much we can do. Let’s go out and just play ball.” They did not play with the sense of “desperocity,” as Mutts likes to say. Disappointing.

    1. They wanted more and they were more urgent…all true. But NCSU was by far the better team. They were the more athletic team. Our issues were clearly on display last night, and hustle and want to are not are main issues. We have the athleticism of a G5 team. We struggled with athletic teams all yr long, and NCSU blew us off the ball. They had countless numbers of dunks and layups and they do what we can’t…they can create shots. We have mostly set shooters, and we don’t have a PG that can initiate a passing game to facilitate those open shots. Our PG, while an excellent set shooter and can score some, dribbles too much, has limited athleticism and doesn’t jump start an offense littered w/ set shooters because there is limites penetration and too much dribbling with no gaining ground. We must get more athletic.

      1. Time for Rice to take over PG duties. In the first few minutes of the game, our PG drove into the lane twice with three defenders waiting and fired up a three from way outside the three point line. We need someone who will run the offense for the entire team. Set shooters can work if you actually pass the ball around.

        1. 100%

          Pedulla is valuable. Very, at times. But he presses far too much and becomes a liability at key times in the game that cause negative momentum swings.

  11. One might ask how NC State played its way into a 6th seed in a weak ACC. Yeah – it was a great match up for them vs VT – and an awful match up for VT.

    1. Agree. We were a much better 7 seed last year than NCST is a 6 seed this year, and the ACC wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire last year either. Conference is down in the dumps by its (high) historical standards.

      1. NCSU looked pretty good to me. UNC looked pretty darn good too. If we won 19 gms and were an 11 seed, that doesn’t feel like the dumps..that would be saying we are flat out awful…and we are not.

      2. Acc not lighting it up last year? Really? Last year 3 of the elite 8 and 2 of the final 4 were acc teams

        1. Exactly. And people that keep chirping that the ACC is down this year are wrong…quite the opposite. We have a lot of very good teams beating each other into the ground. Look at all the records for the first half of the season before ACC play. Pretty daggone good across the board.

  12. We have been an inconsistent shooting and defending team. We won 3 games in a row for the first time since before conference play, and it was against lesser competition, so we were due to have an off game especially against a good team. Over the entire game our offense was decent, but well short of theirs. Have to hope there are not too many lesser conference tournament upsets since regular season winners get an automatic NIT bid if they don’t make NCAA. I think we will make the NIT.

  13. WOW ! Talk about the Varsity vs. the Jr. Varsity ! The Hokies have few consistent
    doule figure scorers from game-to-game. If You throw out the NYC Miracle, the last two years have been a steady nightmare of being ‘drilled’ by the likes of Boston College, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami, Clemson, N.C. State, and etc.
    With Basile being the only ‘big man’ who can score, Tech has little room to manuver in the paint against the opponet’s big men who seem to swarm the
    likes of Pedula, Rice, Collins and most of the other ‘midgets’ on the Tech roster.
    It seems that nothing ever changes on campus over the years in that the big bug-abo in the MBB program has been and always will be = RECRUITING !!!

    1. Come on man this is a pretty crazy rant. I get the frustration with our inability to beat the likes of GT, BC and others that we are clearly better than but sometimes you hit a hot team and that was last night. Our boys certainly did not meet expectations this year but beat pretty good ACC teams Uva, UNC, Duke, Pitt and were so close in so many others. Calling Pedulla, Rice, and Collins midgets and bashing the recruiting is just nuts.

  14. Isn’t the CBI a possibility if the NIT falls through? I would enjoy watching them make a run in that one as much as the NIT.

      1. Didn’t realize that. I just remember UVa being in it one time several tears back and thought it was the next option after the NIT. I hope we get the NIT bid if not too many reg. season champs in the one-bid leagues don’t win their league tournaments.

    1. Sorry but I don’t think this team would be a good investment in the CBI – too many times we just don’t show up to start games. Not sure why but this is just not a very good team and that encompasses all parties including the staff that can’t get them rolling regularly.

      1. True. Seems like we lack a real team leader. Someone who gets in people’s faces and riles them up.

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