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Adam Smith | Burlington Times-News | January 5, 2017

Dennis Smith, Jr. records triple-double in NC State's historic win

  Dennis Smith, Jr. had a lot to be excited about during the Wolfpack's 104-78 win over Virginia Tech.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Embarrassed by what guards Terry Henderson and Dennis Smith, Jr. described as an unacceptably listless opening effort in Atlantic Coast Conference basketball, North Carolina State made sure nothing resembling that happened Wednesday night.

What followed became overwhelming by many measures.

An onslaught of dunks and basket-attacking highlights reached historic proportions as the Wolfpack wrecked No. 21 Virginia Tech 104-78 at PNC Arena, delivering N.C. State's largest margin of victory against a ranked opponent in 26 seasons.

Smith served as the driving force, his 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists supplying the second triple-double achieved by an N.C. State player and the school's first in an ACC game. For perspective, this marks N.C. State's 64th season in the league.

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Henderson scored 22 points and Abdul-Malik Abu, a veritable dunking machine, added 20 points and 11 rebounds. He went 9-for-9 from the field, slamming in the majority of the Wolfpack's 12 dunks.

"A lot of people look at this as an upset," Smith said. "We planned on winning this game from the jump."

The Wolfpack (12-3 overall, 1-1 ACC) never trailed while racing ahead by 25 during the first 17 minutes and roasting the Hokies (12-2, 1-1), who entered the Top 25 for the first time since November 2010 after blasting then-No. 5 Duke 89-75 on Saturday.

That same day, N.C. State's first sampling of league play resulted in a sour-tasting dud, an 81-63 loss at Miami.

"Watching film, seeing how bad we were, seeing how we had no energy, no enthusiasm down there," Henderson said, "everybody seeing what kind of vibe it was on film, that's the telling point right there.

"I feel like we needed to make a statement and this was the perfect game to do it. Coming off their big win against Duke, why not knock them off. It helps us gain our confidence, gain our swagger back."

It registered as a bounce back gigantic in nature.

N.C. State connected at 64.1 percent from the field and produced its first 100-point performance since November 2004, when former coach Herb Sendek was in charge.

Maverick Rowan chipped in 13 points off the Wolfpack bench. Perhaps lost in the array of eye-popping positives, 7-foot starter Omer Yurtseven struggled with foul trouble and scored four points. Not that it mattered in the devastating outcome.

Smith, the star freshman, said he was intent on being aggressive. He grabbed a season-best in rebounds, swiped five steals and poured in 20 points during the second half, underscored by his open-court interception and reverse dunk on the other end, increasing N.C. State's lead to 82-55 with 7:35 remaining.

He joined former standout Julius Hodge as the only Wolfpack players with triple-doubles by grabbing his 10th rebound with 4:21 left, drawing another of the many roars from the approving home crowd.

"He did everything he is," Abu said, referring to Smith.

"I think we were kind of embarrassed from the game at Miami," Smith said. "I know I was and with the guys that we've got, I'm sure they didn't sleep easy with that 'L.' Practice was tough, everybody was competing and I think that reflected in our play (Wednesday night)."

Meanwhile, N.C. State figures to ride substantial momentum into Saturday night's clash with rival North Carolina, ranked 14th.

"It's great timing," Henderson said. "We're going to look forward to that."

By halftime Wednesday night, with N.C. State having rocketed ahead 55-30 while shooting an almost unconscious 69.7 percent from the field, this had become a no-doubter.

Henderson pumped in 17 first-half points and Rowan provided 11 while Smith (seven points, six assists) and Abu (eight points, six rebounds) sort of assumed secondary roles, as the Wolfpack piled up its highest-scoring first half of the season.

It was a beatdown of the Hokies from the beginning. Abu's near chin-up on the rim punctuated a flying put-back dunk of Smith's missed 3-pointer and after 90 seconds, N.C. State led 6-0.

"When went up 6-0 really fast, I had the feeling like, 'We can do this,' " Abu said. "We just had to put our head down."

Later, Henderson's strong driving bucket meant the Wolfpack had hit eight of its first 12 shots and, at 21-11, had built a double-figure lead in the game's opening 6 1/2 minutes.

There was no looking back. The destruction only was growing.

The date was March 14, 1991, and the opponent was Southern Mississippi the last time N.C. State throttled a ranked team to such a considerable degree. That was a 114-85 rout in the NCAA Tournament.

Ahmed Hill's 17 points topped Virginia Tech, which also got 16 points from Zach LeDay, 15 from Chris Clarke and 13 from Justin Robinson. The Hokies allowed 100 points in a regulation game for the first time since January 2005.

This article is written by Adam Smith from Times-News, Burlington, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.

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