BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech got 14 points each from Jarell Eddie and Devin Wilson, but the Hokies couldn’t overcome T.J. Warren’s 31 points in falling to NC State 71-64 in an ACC game played Saturday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.
With the loss, Tech fell to 9-17 overall, 2-12 in the ACC, and lost to the Wolfpack for the fourth straight time. NC State moved to 17-10 overall, 7-7 in league play.
Tech shot better from the floor than NC State, hitting 42.9 percent (18 of 42) compared to 40.6 percent (26 of 64) for the Wolfpack. The Hokies also out-rebounded NC State (39-31), but they missed 15 free throws and turned the ball over 17 times.
“I’m not sure,” Johnson said of the cause of the Hokies’ free-throw issues. “It’s been up and down and different guys in different games. [Saturday], it was a little bit of everybody. I’m not sure why it’s been so rough for us at the free-throw line this year, but it’s something we’ve got to keep working on and keep getting better at. We can’t afford to leave those points out there.”
NC State got plenty of points from Warren, a 6-foot-8 sophomore small forward. The ACC’s leading scorer at 23 points per game coming in, Warren connected on 12 of 21 from the floor for the Wolfpack. He hit 3-pointers on the Wolfpack’s first two possessions of the game, and he hit 7 of 10 from the floor in the first half, scoring 17 of the Wolfpack’s 35 first-half points and helping NC State to a 35-25 halftime lead.
NC State led 61-46 after two free throws by Ralston Turner with 7:21 left in the game. But the undermanned Hokies –Tech played without starting guard Ben Emelogu and reserve center Cadarian Raines, both nursing ankle injuries – scrambled back into the game late, using a 17-6 run to cut the lead to 67-63 on two Wilson free throws with 36 seconds remaining.
Tyler Lewis pushed the lead to 68-63 for the Wolfpack after he made the first of two free-throw attempts with 34 seconds to go, and after Virginia Tech’s C.J. Barksdale missed an open 3-pointer, Lewis made 1 of 2 again from the free-throw line with 22 seconds left to give the Wolfpack a 69-63 lead. Lewis’ two free throws with 12.8 seconds left iced the game for NC State.
Warren scored 14 points in the second half for the Wolfpack. He scored at least 30 points in a game for the sixth time this season.
“He was a difficult matchup in there,” Johnson said. “He moved around a lot, and we had a tough time of finding him and keeping a pulse on him in the first half. We did tighten up a little in the second half, but he leads the league in scoring, and he scores a lot of different ways.”
As has been the theme all season, Tech again played shorthanded. Emelogu, Raines and Adam Smith (stress fracture) sat at the end of the bench. Only Raines dressed out for the game.
“It’s very tough,” Johnson said. “Very tough. We had Will Johnston playing a lot of minutes and Devin Wilson playing a lot of minutes. I think that’s contributing to some of the turnovers. We get tired and turn the basketball over and not play as smart as we need to play. A little bit of that was their defense in the first half, but in the second half, a lot of that was fatigue.”
The Hokies hit the road for their next game, traveling to Durham, N.C., for a Tuesday night game against Duke. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter Follow @VT_MBBall
For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter Follow @jrobIHS