Going into Sunday's games, both State and Virginia had a chance to claim a share of first place.Â State managed; Virginia fell back.
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Wood managed to break JJ Redick's consecutive free throw record, knocking down 58 straight now.Â He hasn't missed a free throw in competition in nearly a year, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
He also scored 21 to lead State.
Interestingly, though it hadn't occurred to us, both teams have big men transfers from Florida: DeShawn Painter for State and Kenny Kadji for Miami both started out in Tallahassee.
Kadji has been a revelation for Miami while Painter has certainly come on for the Pack and is now a reliable player.
CJ Williams played despite an injured shoulder and managed 10 points.
If State has a disquieting note at this point it's depth: despite Williams' injury, despite Richard Howell fouling out and CJ Leslie having four and playing just 25 minutes, the Pack only used a seven man rotation.Â That's certainly not ideal and a more serious injury (not to mention tougher defense on Wood) would have killed State.
For Miami, Durand Scott fouled out and Reggie Johnson's woes continued as the Human Battering Ram picked up four in 22 minutes.
In Charlottesville, playing for the first time since losing Assane Sene to an ankle injury, Virginia shot wretchedly, hitting just 15-46 overall (32.6%) and just 1-14 from three point range (7.1%), with that one coming from Jontel Evans, not exactly a feared outside shooter.
They didn't even pick up the free stuff, shooting just 64.6% from the line.
What's worse, Virginia Tech regularly double and triple teamed Mike Scott, which should have left plenty for other people to shoot.
They might have done better had Sammy Zeglinski not been ill the last few days, but them's the breaks.
Coach Tony Bennett was not happy: "We struggled to shoot the ball. We struggled from the three. We struggled from the free throw line. We even missed some layups," the coach said after the game.
Not that the Hokies were much better from the field: they shot 45.2% overall, 38.5% from behind the line and 57.1% for free throws.
State's win sets up a tantalizing game on Thursday, as the Pack travels to Chapel Hill, where UNC still has to find their heart after losing terribly to FSU and defeating Virginia Tech after sleepwalking through the first half.
Their task is made tougher without ace defender Dexter Strickland, gone for the year with a torn ACL.
State will have a rare opportunity: a hated opponent which seems to be drifting, a chance to play for a share of first place and with a key player missing to boot.
And, lest we forget, a chance to make a statement that they belong, that they're as good as anyone else.
Not to slight any of the other games this week, but this one has the potential to be magnificent.
Back in the days of Dean Smith and Norm Sloan, an injury would have just made everyone more certain that UNC would win. Now, we're not as sure.
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