Robinson’s career night lifts Hokies past NC State

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Justin Robinson scored a career-high 32 points to carry Virginia Tech to an 85-75 victory over NC State on Wednesday.
Robinson connected on 11 of 17 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, for the Hokies (17-7, 6-5 ACC), who bounced back from Saturday’s loss to Miami and have now won four of their past five games. Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 18 points for Virginia Tech.
Coming off an 84-75 loss to the Hurricanes — their third ACC loss at home this season — the Hokies responded by shooting a sizzling 63.5 percent from the floor (33 of 52). That field-goal percentage was Virginia Tech’s best against an ACC foe this season.
Virginia Tech took control in the first half, using a 16-3 run and taking a 41-26 lead on Robinson’s basket with 2:55 left in the half. The Hokies shot 64.5 percent in the first half (20 of 31) despite making just one 3-pointer and led 47-34 at halftime — the second-most points allowed by NC State in a half this season.
The Wolfpack (16-8, 6-5), who had four wins over teams in the top 20 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) coming in, saw their three-game winning streak snapped and lost for just the third time this season when scoring more than 70 points. They trailed the entire second half, coming as close as 61-55 on a 3-pointer by Sam Hunt with 10:52 remaining, but getting no closer than seven the rest of the way.
Very little went right for the Wolfpack, as they committed 15 turnovers and shot just 43.5 percent (27 of 62), but the bigger issue was first-half foul trouble to top scorer Omer Yurtseven, who picked up two fouls less than five minutes into the game and sat for the next 9:46. The 7-footer returned to the game with the Wolfpack trailing by 12, but less than two minutes later, picked up his third foul and returned to the bench.
Yurtseven led the Wolfpack with 20 points, while Markell Johnson added 15 points and 10 assists. Torin Dorn, the Wolfpack’s second-leading scorer coming in at 13.4 points per game, finished with just four and saw his streak of scoring in double figures end at six games.
NC State: The Wolfpack still have opportunities to bolster their NCAA Tournament chances, but they desperately need to improve their defense down the stretch. They have the ACC’s worst field-goal percentage defense, and it showed against Virginia Tech, which constantly drove to the basket and scored with ease.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies could not afford to lose another league home game, especially considering their tough late-season slate, and didn’t. For the time being, they’re in the NCAA Tournament discussion, but they have arguably the league’s toughest remaining schedule, with two games against Duke and one each against Virginia, Clemson and Louisville.
NC State: The Wolfpack returns home for a rematch against North Carolina on Saturday. NC State knocked off the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill on Jan. 27.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play at rival Virginia on Saturday — and the Cavaliers will have the extra motivation of possibly moving to No. 1 in the Associated Press poll next week following Villanova’s loss Wednesday night.