GREENSBORO -- After practicing at the Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday, N.C. State guard Lorenzo Brown said his balky ankle hampers him more on defense than offense. He proceeded to make a mockery of that statement Thursday.
Sore left ankle, taped-up right thumb, whatever -- Brown locked down Virginia Tech guard Erick Green, the ACC player of the year and nation’s leading scorer, holding him to 15 points, more than 10 below his average, on 5-for-19 shooting without a single assist.
At one point in the second half, after Green had the ball knocked away from him in the lane, he looked pleadingly to the officials. No help was forthcoming. At that point, Green had made only three field goals, had only nine points and N.C. State had a 15-point lead on its way to an 80-63 win in the first round of the ACC tournament. The game was effectively over, and Green wasn’t going to shoot the Hokies back into it. Not with Brown in his face.
He exited for the final time with 1:05 to go after making one last jumper over Brown in the lane -- too little, too late -- to prolonged applause from both Virginia Tech and N.C. State fans.
As for Brown, he also had a school tournament-record 12 assists against only two turnovers after turning the ball over seven times in the regular-season ending loss at Florida State.
Defense has obviously not been a strong point for the Wolfpack this season. Green had 29 points and eight assists in the Hokies’ overtime loss in Raleigh a month ago, Brown’s second game back after injuring the ankle. If shutting down Green sets the tone for the postseason, Thursday’s win will have value for the Wolfpack that extends beyond Friday’s quarterfinal against Virginia.