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01/29/2013 10:43 PM EST
Harris lead Virginia past No. 19 Wolfpack, 58-55
VIRGINIA 58, NC STATE 55
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- The little things that Virginia
coach Tony Bennett preaches about doing are starting to add up
to regular victories, and the fact that his freshman-heavy team
is starting to find its comfort zone is helping a great deal,
Joe Harris scored 22 points, seven during a game-ending 13-6
run, and Virginia's nationally ranked defense slowed No. 19
North Carolina State's ACC-best offense just enough in a 58-55
victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers' fourth straight victory.
One game after freshman Justin Anderson led the way for
Virginia, fellow freshman Mike Tobey had a huge hand in the
victory with 13 points and, more importantly against the long,
athletic Wolfpack, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
"Mike's continuing to improve and he's certainly a threat on the
block," Bennett said, glancing at the stat line for his
6-foot-11 center. "And I love it that he had seven rebounds.
That's a good step. He's put together three real nice games."
Akil Mitchell added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia
(15-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), including an 18-foot
jumper that put them ahead to stay with 3:53 remaining, before
the nation's No. 2 scoring defense (51.1) closed it out.
"We knew the first half, we didn't play particularly well
offensively, but at the same time we didn't feel like we played
our best defensive half either," Harris said after Virginia
trailed 31-24 at the break. "They kind of just bullied us around
and out-toughed us."
North Carolina State (16-5, 5-3), which arrived averaging nearly
80 points per game, became the 17th team, including all seven
ACC opponents, to be held under 60 points by Virginia.
C.J. Leslie, playing despite being under the weather, led the
Wolfpack with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Richard Howell had 12
points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Leslie missed what would
have been a tying free throw with 3:20 left, and when the
Wolfpack fouled Jontel Evans as he tried to dribble time off the
clock with 26 seconds left, Evans made them both.
Earlier, Evans drew a foul on a 30-foot heave at the end of the
first half, drawing three shots. He missed them all.
"My concentration was unbelievable. I was focused. I went
through my progressions, I tuned out the crowd, the score and
everything," Evans said. "Those were probably the biggest two
free throws of my entire career."
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried wasn't pleased that his team
fouled in that situation.
"That is not a good play," he said. "You just can't make that
play. ... We needed to get a defensive stop."
The Wolfpack never got off a good shot in the closing seconds.
N.C. State also suffered a critical loss midway through the
first half when point guard Lorenzo Brown limped off with what
appeared to be a left ankle injury. He got medical attention on
the bench, went to the locker room, came back and got more
attention and wanted to give it a go, but he appeared
significantly hobbled and didn't return.
"Obviously losing Lorenzo is a tough hurdle for our team to get
over, but I thought they battled through that very well,"
Gottfried said. "We did a lot of things well. We didn't execute
nearly as well as we should have late in the game and we also
had some opportunities where we had the ball right around the
rim and we just couldn't score it."
After Harris put Virginia ahead 52-49, Leslie hit two free
throws. Harris' drive made it 54-51 and Scott Wood's 3-pointer
with 4:20 to go tied it.
Mitchell's jumper restored Virginia's lead with 3:53 left, and a
free throw by Leslie with 3:20 to go was all the Wolfpack could
manage over the last 4 minutes of the game.
Trailing for the first 27 1-2 minutes, Virginia finally went
ahead on Tobey's 15-foot jumper with 12:26 to play. The game was
tied at 40 and 42 before a dunk by Leslie, Wood's 3-pointer and
Howell's drive more than negated Evan Nolte's 3-pointer for
Virginia, putting N.C. State ahead 49-45.
But Virginia drew even again with the help of two turnovers as
Harris hit two free throws and Tobey scored underneath.
Harris then got T.J. Warren into the air from the left corner,
jumped and leaned into him, drew the foul and three shots. He
made them all, giving Virginia a 52-49 lead.
That set up the finish.
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