Victories don’t come much more resounding than North Carolina State’s 84-60 romp over No. 16 Duke on Wednesday night.
Now the trick for the Wolfpack is to duplicate the formula in a hostile Atlantic Coast Conference arena.
When NC State (12-4, 2-3 ACC) travels to Blacksburg, Va., to face Virginia Tech (11-4, 1-3) on Saturday night, the Wolfpack will be seeking their first true road win of the year.
Recapturing the fire NC State generated against Duke won’t be easy. Terquavion Smith scored 24 points, Jarkel Joiner added 21 points and nine assists and DJ Burns powered for 18 points and four blocks in 16 minutes.
While those numbers were gaudy, the defensive work of the Wolfpack was more telling, as they forced 21 turnovers and outscored the Blue Devils on points off the miscues 30-2.
“It may have been the best defensive game that I’ve coached since I’ve been here,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.
Keatts said his team was eager to atone for a 78-64 loss at Clemson five days earlier.
“We didn’t like how we finished the Clemson game,” Keatts said. “We thought we kind of got out-toughed.”
While NC State arrives at Virginia Tech on a high, the Hokies are reeling after three straight defeats by a combined 10 points.
In Wednesday’s 68-65 loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech shot an uncharacteristic 31.3 percent from the floor, its worst mark in a game since coach Mike Young’s first year in Blacksburg (2019-20).
“Our spacing, our ball movement, shot selection at times is not what it has to be,” Young said. “And (we’re) missing another guy that can stretch you and make a shot.”
Young was referring to 3-point threat Hunter Cattoor, who is out with an arm injury. Cattoor was expected to return for the Clemson game but the senior had a “setback,” the coach said.
Without his backcourt running mate, Sean Pedulla has struggled. In the last two games that Cattoor has been sidelined, Pedulla has made just 11 of 36 shots (30.5 percent).
Grant Basile scored 17 points against Clemson on 5-of-15 shooting.
–Field Level Media