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A closer look at N.C. State's putrid Saturday

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North Carolina State Head Coach Kevin Keatts looks towards the court in the final moments of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia Tech in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Sunday, February 3, 2019

By now, news of the N.C. State men’s basketball team’s 47-24 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday has made its rounds.

The 24 points scored by the No. 23 Wolfpack were the fewest points by a ranked team since the shot clock era began in 1985. The team made nine shots all game, a number that doesn’t seem fathomable.

N.C State (16-6, 4-5 ACC) shot 9 of 54 from the floor, including a 2-for-28 effort from 3-point range.

No. 12 Virginia Tech wasn’t much better, especially early on. C.J. Bryce’s jumper with 18:06 left in the first half that tied the score at 2-2 was the last points his team would score for another nine minutes.

And when Jericole Hellems scored on a layup with 9:04 left in the first half, the Hokies led just 5-4. By the time N.C. State reached double figures — it reached 11 points on a Hellems jumper with 5:33 left — the Hokies had just 13 points themselves.

By halftime, VT led 20-14.

“What I told our guys at halftime was we are down six,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “I’m sure (VT) didn’t expect to score just 20 points, and we sure didn’t expect to score 14. I told them ‘You’re still in the game.’

“But we didn’t have it for whatever reason. When you look at these numbers, they’re mind boggling. Look at our shooting percentage. … To hold a team to 47 points is pretty good, the unfortunate thing is we had 24.”

Fast break

It’s no secret N.C. State likes to play fast. The Wolfpack are averaging 72 possessions per game. The Hokies wanted to slow down the pace of the game, and succeeded.

The Wolfpack had zero fast-break points, while VT had five. During the Wolfpack’s overtime loss to No. 3 Virginia, which is the top defensive team in the country, N.C. State had 14 points off fast breaks while limiting the Cavaliers to two.

“It’s very frustrating because you can be on top of the world one day and on the bottom the next,” Bryce said. “But we are going to keep our confidence as a team. We just wanted to keep our swagger (coming out of halftime) and keep taking shots. We got a lot of open shots, but they just weren’t falling.”

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Virginia Tech was without its second-leading scorer in Justin Robinson and P.J. Horne, who sat out for a fourth consecutive game.

Robinson is averaging 14.4 points per game and 5.5 assists. Horne is averaging 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds.

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