Virginia Tech Hokies pound North Carolina State Wolfpack, 72-52

Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 10, 2010; 11:14 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In one corner of the locker room, Cadarian Raines and Terrell Bell smiled and laughed. Dorenzo Hudson munched Swedish Fish candies. And in a news conference, Coach Seth Greenberg joked with reporters between swigs of Diet Coke.

That was what it looked like late Wednesday night in the moments after Virginia Tech's 72-52 win over North Carolina State at RBC Center.

"I think they're starting to see possibilities," Greenberg said of his players. "I think they're having fun. And you know what? They should be having fun. We're 19-4."

The Hokies (19-4, 6-3 ACC) swept aside the Wolfpack in a game they simply could not afford to lose if they want to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007. N.C. State (14-11, 2-8) is a bottom feeder in the ACC, so the victory does not represent a signature win, but it was a must-win nevertheless for Virginia Tech.

It was the Hokies' first road win over N.C. State since 1917. They were 0-3 here since they joined the ACC before the 2004 season.

Virginia Tech jumped out to a quick start and then clamped down on defense, with an emphasis on limiting N.C. State's three-point shooters. The Hokies attacked the perimeter, and the Wolfpack missed all 11 of its shots from three-point range. Entering the game, N.C. State had hit a three-point basket in 654 consecutive games dating from 1989.

"We listened to the scouting report and we followed it to the detail," guard Malcolm Delaney said. "We took them out of their three-point offense. We kind of shut them down, and they didn't get any clean shots."

And Virginia Tech could not have dreamed a better start. It opened up a 26-7 lead after making its first 10 shots from the field. The crowd let out a mock cheer when Erick Green missed the Hokies' first shot with 9 minutes 47 seconds left in the opening half.

For as offensively confused as Virginia Tech has looked this season, it was an extraordinary display early on. After all, the Hokies were coming off a 4-for-26 shooting effort in the first half of a win over Clemson on Saturday. But players said the team had two upbeat practices before Wednesday night's game

"It's tough to beat teams on the road in the ACC," Delaney said, "so we knew how we had to start out."

While N.C. State fought back, Hudson paced the Hokies' offense. With his mile-a-minute play, Hudson led all scorers with 23 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He provided energy as he ran the floor, pushing the ball in transition and working for open looks out of sets.

Virginia Tech effectively put away the game on an emphatic dunk by Jeff Allen with 7:10 remaining. Allen ran off with a fast break after stripping Farnold Degand and punctuated it with a two-handed dunk that gave the Hokies a 59-42 lead. Allen had another solid performance, scoring 14 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots.

"It's good to get that road win," Delaney said. "A lot of teams are losing on the road in the ACC. We like playing on the road for some reason."

In an arena that had fallen silent after Allen's dunk, Delaney egged on the crowd by asking it to be louder by waving his arms.

After Virginia Tech finished putting a bow on the victory, the good mood was palpable in its locker room. The Hokies got another win they needed to stay in the NCAA tournament conversation.

"It's going to be a long bus ride back to Blacksburg, [Va.]," Allen said of the 3 1/2-hour trip to Virginia Tech's campus. "With a loss, it would have been a quiet one, but this one will be exciting. We'll have a lot to talk about."

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