NC State cruises past Virginia in ACCs
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Scott Wood had 23 points and seven 3-pointers to help North Carolina State beat Virginia 75-56 on Friday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals.
C.J. Leslie added 17 points and 11 rebounds with three blocks for the fifth-seeded Wolfpack (24-9), who blew the game open after halftime and led by double digits nearly the entire second half for a second straight quarterfinal win against the fourth-seeded Cavaliers (21-11).
N.C. State also got strong performances from freshman T.J. Warren with 18 points and senior Richard Howell, who battled through a right thigh injury to finish with 12 rebounds.
The Wolfpack avenged a regular-season loss to Virginia that started a three-game skid, which all but took the preseason ACC favorite out of the regular-season title chase. Now N.C. State is back in the semifinals and has a Saturday matchup with No. 9 Miami, the tournament's top seed.
Akil Mitchell scored 19 to lead Virginia, which hasn't reached the semifinals since 1995 -- the longest drought in the league. First-team all-ACC performer Joe Harris had 13 on 4-for-13 shooting, including 2-for-9 from 3-point range.
The teams met last year in the exact same position, with the fifth-seeded Wolfpack winning 67-64 to reach the semifinals. This one wasn't nearly that close, with the Wolfpack taking a 30-21 halftime lead then scoring on five straight possessions out of the break to push that margin to 19 barely 3 minutes in.
Wood provided the highlight of that burst with three straight 3s, the last coming when he lost Paul Jesperson on an inbounds play and buried a shot that sent the Greensboro Coliseum's home-state crowd into a roar.
Leslie followed that with a three-point play by driving past Evan Nolte for a score, a sequence that gave the Wolfpack a 44-25 lead with 16:31 left.
The Cavaliers got no closer than 11 again.
Virginia won the January meeting 58-55, though the Wolfpack played much of the way without point guard Lorenzo Brown due to an ankle injury. Brown missed the next two games and N.C. State lost both, the first coming on a last-second tip-in at home against the Hurricanes.
The Wolfpack had an easy win in Thursday's first round against Virginia Tech. Now N.C. State will get another shot at Miami as it tries to put together another memorable March run after last year's push to the NCAA tournament's round of 16.
Virginia's normally stingy defense had trouble all day with the Wolfpack, who shot 45.8 percent (27 of 59). N.C. State also went 8-for-16 from 3-point range behind Wood, who became the program's all-time leader in made 3-pointers during the second half.
The Cavaliers shot 38.9 percent (21 of 54) but went 5-for-20 from behind the arc, setting up what will be a long two days until they find out whether they've done enough to earn an NCAA bid.
N.C. State also took a 39-28 rebounding advantage behind Leslie and Howell, who was wincing and constantly rubbing his right thigh beginning late in the first half. It's unclear exactly when the first-team all-ACC pick was injured, though he briefly left the game to ride a stationary bike and have his thigh wrapped before returning.
He came out of the game to a roar with 1:55 left and the Wolfpack leading 70-52.