No. 18 Virginia takes 4-game skid to N.C. State

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State was in such a nosedive that there will be a coaching change at season’s end.

No. 18 Virginia is in another type of tailspin going into Saturday afternoon’s game at PNC Arena.

Virginia has suffered four losses in a row, and suddenly a team that looked primed for a lofty seed for the NCAA Tournament is simply trying to find its footing before the postseason.

“There are a lot of things we’re trying to overcome, and we need everyone playing at a fairly solid level for us to be able to be successful in this conference,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.

The recent slide has left the Cavaliers (18-9, 8-7 ACC) in a tie for eighth place in the conference after it appeared they would contend for the regular-season title less than two weeks ago.

The four losses came in a nine-day period. It’s the longest losing streak since Bennett’s first season with the team in 2009-10.

“Fatigue is going to be a part of it at this time of the year,” Bennett said.

Virginia senior guard London Perrantes has slumped and he said he knows that’s impacting the Cavaliers. He’s 16-for-58 (27.6 percent) from the field during the four-game skid.

“I wish I knew what was getting me out of rhythm so I could fix it,” Perrantes said. “I’m in a pretty deep slump right now and I need to figure it out and find a way to get over it.”

Despite snapping a seven-game losing skid with Tuesday night’s victory at Georgia Tech, N.C. State (15-14, 4-12) remains in second-to-last place in the ACC.

That was the second game for the Wolfpack since it was announced that coach Mark Gottfried had been fired, though he’s finishing out the season.

“Really happy that they get to experience something positive here,” Gottfried said of a late-season victory. “Something to build on down the stretch and we’ll see what happens.”

The Virginia game marks the home finale for N.C. State, and it could be the last game in Raleigh for freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr., who is generally considered a lottery pick for the NBA Draft should he enter.

Gottfried said he’s on a quest to assist the N.C. State players in enjoying this part of the season.

“I want to see if I can help these guys, somehow, just a little bit more,” he said. “Just a little more to get over the hump and have some success on the way out.”

The Wolfpack put together one of its best defensive efforts in the Georgia Tech game. If that starts a trend, then it could be a defensive tussle if Virginia is able to get back to the strong defense that has largely been a trademark the past few seasons.

N.C. State gave up at least 80 points in nine consecutive games before defeating Georgia Tech 71-69. The Wolfpack have won only two ACC home games and those came more than a month ago.

Virginia has lost four consecutive road games, including last weekend’s 65-41 thumping from North Carolina.

“Our inexperience is showing and we are obviously sliding right now,” Bennett said. “We have to fight like crazy to play as hard as we can and see if we can get one.”

This is the only scheduled meeting between the teams this season.