Virginia made all its second-half free throws, played tenacious defense when it was behind today and beat eight-ranked North Carolina State, 67-62. But at the end it was State Coach Norman Sloan who drew moslt of the attention.
"Ollk, it was no big deal," Sloan protested. "We just wanted to make them pay the price on defense for awhile. That's all it was."
"It" was Sloan's decision to have his team hold the ball at the start of the second half after shooting 62 percent in the first half for a 38-34 lead.
As a result of the stall, the Wolfpack, now 0-3 in Atlantic Coast Conference play and 11-4 overall, took just 10 shots during the first 16:25 of the second half. By the time they started firing, UVA led, 57-49
"I was surprised when they did it," said Jeff Lamp, whose 25 points and 13-for-13 foul shooting led the Cavs. "Obviously they're a run-and-gun team. That's the way they play best. But, heck, I'm not their coach."
Lamp's coach, Terry Holland wasn't about to complain after his team raised its conference mark to 2-1 and overall record to 8-4, but he, too, admitted surprise.
"I thought they might go to it later," he said, "because they handle the ball quite well. But I didn't expect to see it that early."
Early in the game, State's quickness enabled it to connsistantly get inside the Virginia man-to-man defense and the visitors led, 20-10, after eight minutes.
But Holland inserted 6-foot-4 freshman Jeff Jones at the point and with Jones and the sophomore forwards Lamp and Lee Raker bombing from outside, the Cavaliers fought back to tie at 30 before State opened up its four-point lead on Kenny Matthews' jumper just before the half.
The came Sloan's crucial decision.
"We had a couple of guys in foul trouble and we wanted to try and make it an eight-or 10-minute ball game," he said. "We thought we could work them inside, be really physical. What's wrong that?"
"It took them out of their offense," said Raker, who finished with 17 points. "They spent moslt of the half standing around. Even when they got behind."
The key for Virginia may have come with 14:24 left when center Steve Castellan slightly sprained an ankle. Holland went with a quick, small lineup of Lamp, Raker, Jones, Bobby Stokes and 6-7 sophomore Terry Gates, and the Cavs began to force the turnovers they needed.
"We knew we would get hurt on the boards with the small lineup," Holland said. "But since the game was being played on the perimeter, it didn't really matter.
A Raker jump shot from the corner put Virginia in front for the first time -- and for good -- with 5:50 left. UVA then streaked to a 57-49 lead with 2:57 to play before De Matha's Hawkeye Whitney regrouped his team for a last try.
Whitney finnished with a team-high 21 points, seven coming during a spurt that cut the Virginial lead to 59-58 with 1:03 to play.
But UVA did not turn over the ball again and Jones made two foul shots and Lamp six for a team total of 15 for 15 in the second half to send the crowd of 9,000 home happy.
"We've put some good games back to back now," Holland said. "But we're still not anywhere near as good as we can be."