ATLANTA -- In a back-and-forth contest that left most players gasping for air as they walked off the court after the final buzzer, NC State proved to have the most endurance with a 67-64 win in the second round of the ACC tournament.
Both teams seemed to counter each other at every turn for most of the game. Baskets were traded between the two all the way to the end.
Free throws late and some tight defense around the perimeter kept NC State's lead intact.
Turning point: NC State kept its lead throughout the entire second half, but watched as Virginia slowly crept closer. It wasn't until C.J. Leslie grabbed a rebound from Virginia forward Mike Scott's missed hook shot with 37 seconds remaining that the Wolfpack had enough security to force the Cavs to foul.
Key player: Leslie's team-high 19 points and 14 rebounds made him the hardest-working player on the floor Friday. He was 5-for-5 from the floor in the first half. He also finished with 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.
Key stat: NC State didn't hurt itself by taking bad shots. The Wolfpack ended the game shooting 54 percent, hitting 27 of 50 shots.
Miscellaneous: When NC State won the 1983 ACC tournament in Atlanta, it did so by defeating Virginia 81-78 in the title game. ... Wolfpack forward Scott Wood has made a 3 in an ACC-best 29 consecutive games. He hit two Friday. ... Virginia entered the game with the ACC's No. 1 scoring defense (53.2), but NC State surpassed that mark with 7:35 remaining in the second half. ... NC State is 81-58 all time versus the Cavaliers. The Wolfpack also owns a 13-2 record against Virginia in the ACC tournament. ... A Virginia win would have put the Cavaliers in the ACC semifinals for the first time since 1995. They are on the longest semifinal drought in the conference.
What’s next: Virginia was all but locked into the NCAA tournament before Friday's game, so the Cavaliers' loss shouldn't keep them from dancing. With the win, NC State might have played its way right into the NCAA tournament. The Wolfpack were on the bubble heading into the ACC tournament, but back-to-back wins might be enough to send them to the Big Dance.