Davidson 72, N.C. State 67: Curry a King for a day
By Bret Strelow
CHARLOTTE ó LeBron James repeatedly rose from his courtside seat, stepped onto the playing floor and extended his arms toward the rafters to acknowledge an impressive shot from Stephen Curry.
James gestured at times toward Cleveland Cavaliers teammate J.J. Hickson, a former N.C. State player positioned behind the Wolfpack’s bench.
Surrounded by stars, Curry flourished as the main attraction.Davidson pulled out a 72-67 victory against N.C. State on Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena thanks to the heroics of Curry, who matched his career high of 44 points.
With the Cavs in town to face the Charlotte Bobcats, James took advantage of another opportunity to watch his friend play.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Curry said. “His reactions to us on the floor is pretty cool to watch. It’s all entertainment. We’re out there to have fun, compete and play, and people appreciate it.”
Curry, who developed a friendship with James during Davidson’s memorable run to the Elite Eight, attempted a career-high 33 shots against the Wolfpack.
He made 15, including a dramatic 3-pointer that put the 22nd-ranked Wildcats ahead 70-66 with 1:21 left.
Will Archambault airballed a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Steve Rossiter grabbed one of Davidson’s 21 offensive boards. Less than 10 seconds remained on the shot clock when Rossiter located Curry near the top of the key.
Curry caught Rossiter’s pass 25 feet from the basket and released a high-arching shot from his right hip. The ball swished through the net, and Curry stared down James as N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe signaled for a timeout.
“He’s one of those players in basketball right now, period, that you get somebody out to go watch,” James said. “He’s a really good talent.
“Not taking anything away from that school, but their team isn’t the best. But he makes those guys play hard and they compete every last game they’re in, even against teams people say they shouldn’t be. I can relate to that.”
The Wolfpack (4-1) had one chance to tie the game, but Brandon Costner missed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left. Curry sealed the outcome with two free throws.
Costner (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Ben McCauley (16 points, 10 rebounds) posted double-doubles for the Wolfpack, which competed without Courtney Fells for much of the second half.
He injured his left shoulder in the first half and played only eight minutes after the break.
“Coming in and playing a team like this, the way we did, is something that we can hang our hats on as far as growing,” Lowe said. “It tells us that when we play hard and do what we’re supposed to do, we can still be tough.”
Curry hit a tiebreaking jumper with 11:16 left, and he went 1-for-8 from the floor in the next seven minutes. Andrew Lovedale (12 points, nine boards) rebounded a Curry miss and scored on a putback three times during that stretch.
Costner’s putback with 2:53 remaining broke a 64-all tie, and Curry pushed the Wildcats (6-1) ahead for good by making a layup 45 seconds later.
“After the game he texted me saying, ‘Thanks for coming,’ ” James said. “It was fun to watch. It was a really good game.”Last season, the Wildcats suffered narrow non-conference losses to North Carolina, UCLA, Duke and N.C. State before hitting their stride.
Davidson didn’t benefit from a home-court advantage against UNC or Duke in the Bobcats’ arena, but Saturday’s crowd of 11,599 created a different atmosphere.
“This year it was State, but it was a Davidson game today,” coach Bob McKillop said. “It was not a Carolina crowd. It was not a Duke crowd. It was a Davidson crowd.
“That’s a testimony to what these guys have accomplished in the year since those games last winter.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
“We have a thing in our locker room, we call them daggers,” Curry said. “Late shots that deflate the defense when they played so hard for 34 seconds.”