Updated at: 01/29/2013 7:37 PM
By HANK KURZ Jr.
(AP) CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Joe Harris scored 22 points, seven during a game-ending 13-6 run, and Virginia beat No. 19 North Carolina State 58-55 on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ fourth straight victory.
Akil Mitchell added 14 points for Virginia (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), including an 18-foot jumper that put them ahead to stay, as the second-stingiest defense in the country put the clamps on.
North Carolina State (16-5, 5-3), which arrived averaging nearly 80 points per game, became the 17th team, including all seven ACC opponents, to be held under 60 points by Virginia.
C.J. Leslie, playing despite being under the weather, led the Wolfpack with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Richard Howell had 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Leslie missed what would have been a tying free throw with 3:20 left, and when Jontel Evans hit two from the line with 26 seconds left, the lead was three. The Wolfpack never got off a good shot in the closing seconds.
The Wolfpack suffered a critical loss midway through the first half when point guard Lorenzo Brown limped off with what appeared to be a left ankle injury. He got medical attention on the bench, went to the locker room, came back and got more attention, but appeared significantly hobbled and didn’t return.
Without their floor leader, the Wolfpack looked sloppy at times, especially down the stretch.
After Harris put Virginia ahead 52-49, Leslie hit two free throws. Harris’ drive made it 54-51 and Scott Wood’s 3-pointer with 4:20 to go tied it.
Mitchell’s jumper restored Virginia’s lead with 3:53 left, and a free throw by Leslie with 3:20 to go was all the Wolfpack could manage over the last 4 minutes of the game.
Trailing for the first 27 1-2 minutes, Virginia finally went ahead on Mike Tobey’s 15-foot jumper with 12:26 to play. The game was tied at 40 and 42 before a dunk by Leslie, Wood’s 3-pointer and Howell’s drive more than negated Evan Nolte’s 3-pointer for Virginia, putting N.C. State ahead 49-45.
But Virginia drew even again with the help of two turnovers as Harris hit two free throws and Tobey scored underneath. Harris got T.J. Warren into the air from the left corner, then jumped and leaned into him, drew the foul and three shots. He made them all, giving Virginia a 52-49 lead.
That set up the finish.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)