In a hectic night in the ACC, perhaps the most surprising scoreline came in Raleigh, where Dennis Smith Jr. posted the second triple-double in Wolfpack history as N.C. State dispatched No. 21 Virginia Tech, 104-78.
Smith finished with a quiet 27 points, 11 boards, 11 assists and five steals, and I mean that sincerely. I watched the game. Smith played well, but it never felt like he was having this kind of performance. Maverick Rowan played really well, as did Terry Henderson. Abdul-Malik Abu finished with 20 points and 11 boards.
But he did. The only other N.C. State player to post a triple-double was Julius Hodge, and Hodge didn’t get his against an ACC opponent.
So good for Smith, and good for the Wolfpack.
They entered Wednesday night at something of a turning point in their season. They were coming off of an ugly loss at Miami in their ACC opener – a Miami team that got worked over Wednesday by Syracuse, who got blown out by Boston College over the weekend – and they were hosting a Hokie team fresh off of their own statement win against Duke.
The Wolfpack have quite a bit of talent. They have the look, on paper, of a team that can finish in the top six in the league and make a run at the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, even if it hasn’t really shown through in their performances to date. This game, at least from this writer’s point of view, is the kind of game that N.C. State has to win if they’re going to be that team.
And not only did they win it, they dominated from tip to buzzer.
While their potential top five pick posted a scoreline – 27, 11, 11 and 5 – that we have seen just once since 2010, when Elfrid Payton went for 34 points, 11 boards, 11 assists and five steals in a double-overtime win against Louisiana-Monroe in 2014.