N.C. State had no business winning this game.

But Michael O’Connell banked in a 3-point shot with a hand in his face to send the game to overtime. And after Virginia hit a 3-point shot to open the scoring in the extra period, the Pack rode DJ Burns the rest of the way to a 73-65 win over the Cavaliers. It’s the fourth win in four days for State, which will square off against North Carolina in the championship game Saturday night.

It was a back-and-forth contest for most of the night, with neither team having more than a five-point advantage until a 3-pointer gave Virginia a 53-46 lead with 4:18 remaining. Virginia excels at making the game a slog. And they started to pull away with the 3-ball. Three of their four baskets came from behind the arc as they turned a two-point deficit into the 7-point lead.

But Burns made back-to-back baskets to cut the Pack’s deficit to three points.

Virginia extended back to a five-point advantage and State committed a turnover and Burns got whistled for a foul. After a review, it was upgraded to a flagrant foul, which meant two foul shots and the ball for the Cavaliers.

The game should have been over. But then Virginia’s big weakness turned up. The worst free-throw shooting team in the conference hit just one of five shots from the line in the final 70 seconds, leaving the door open.

Meanwhile, Casey Morsell was fouled on a 3-point attempt and drained all three shots from the line to make it a three-point game with 44 seconds remaining. Virginia missed a 3-point shot, Morsell rebounded and State had the ball with 22 seconds left.

State drew up an inbounds play for a corner three for DJ Horne but Virginia defended it well, forcing Horne to give the ball up to Morsell. After dribbling for a few seconds and going nowhere, Morsell hoisted a long three instead of passing to O’Connell. The shot missed, the Cavaliers grabbed the rebound and State had to foul.

But Virginia missed the free throw, Morsell rebounded and got the ball up the left sideline to O’Connell who hit the miraculous shot to send the game to overtime.

In the extra period, State fed Burns at every opportunity. He hit four straight baskets, the final one ended with an and one which gave the Pack a 67-65 lead.

O’Connell hit a layup and Horne iced the game with four free throws.

Burns led State with 19 points, while O’Connell and Middlebrooks each had 12, with Morsell adding 11. Middlebrooks was the unsung star of the game, as he brought toughness inside and gave enough rest for Burns to dominate late.

Mo Diarra added 9 points and 12 rebounds.

It was just a tremendous outing for an exhausted team, playing a squad in Virginia known for making you play defense for 25+ seconds on each possession, while running you into a bunch of hard screens. The only thing the Pack didn’t do well was shoot from long distance. Late in the second half, the Cavaliers had eight 3-point buckets, while State was 2-17 from behind the arc until O’Connell’s big bucket at the end of regulation.

The other key as mentioned earlier was at the line, where Virginia was 6-11 and State went 14-15.

With the victory, the Pack became the first team ever to win four games in the ACC Tournament. Because of their lousy finish to the regular season, when they went just 2-7 in their last nine games, they’ll likely have to win Saturday to make the NCAA Tournament. On paper, it’s an impossible task to win against a veteran UNC team that beat State twice in the regular season.

But if State can keep from getting blown out early, they’ve showed great poise late here in the tournament. The Pack hasn’t won the ACC Tournament since back when I was in school there in 1987. Perhaps with my daughter committing to State, they can end the drought.

In 1983, State beat UNC in overtime in the ACC Tournament semi-finals before beating Virginia for the championship. Here’s hoping a flip flop in the order of opponent doesn’t result in a switch of the results in the final.

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