Speedbump on Tobacco Road: Duke, UNC, Wake Forest and NC State all lose
RALEIGH (AP) — The four Tobacco Road schools hit quite a speedbump Saturday.
For the first time in nearly three years, North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State and Wake Forest all lost on the same day.
It might have been just the second time that’s happened in the storied history of this college hoops hotbed.
No. 5 Duke, No. 9 North Carolina and Wake Forest all lost at about the same time early Saturday afternoon, with Virginia Tech beating the Blue Devils 89-75, Georgia Tech knocking off the Tar Heels 75-63 and Clemson rallying past the Demon Deacons 73-68.
N.C. State then capped off the state’s 0-for-4 day by losing 81-63 at Miami.
“It was not a good day for us, to say the least,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said, referring to his team.
He just as easily could have been talking about his instate rivals.
The last time everything came together in such a decidedly imperfect storm was Jan. 11, 2014. On that day, North Carolina lost by 12 at Syracuse, Wake Forest fell by 15 points at Pittsburgh. Duke lost at Clemson and N.C. State lost to Virginia.
Another instance of the four schools losing on the same day couldn’t be found. Two of the schools have incomplete sets of records from the era before the Atlantic Coast Conference’s formation in 1953: Wake Forest’s media guide doesn’t list complete dates of games played before the 1950-51 season, and N.C. State’s doesn’t before 1946-47.
The next time they all play on the same day is Jan. 21 and it’s guaranteed that won’t all lose again then — because Wake Forest visits N.C. State.
VIRGINIA TECH 89, DUKE 75
BLACKSBURG, Va. (TNS)— Too much went right for Virginia Tech when it hosted Duke on Saturday.
But the Hokies made it that way.
They shot the lights out from 3-point range, beat Duke on the offensive boards and took advantage of a loose defense, while applying a suffocating one of their own.
The Blue Devils couldn’t overcome all that fell in line for Virginia Tech in their 89-75 loss.
With suspended guard Grayson Allen seated, sophomore Luke Kennard carried a Duke offense that saw nine players in the rotation in the ACC opener for both teams. He led the Blue Devils with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting on a day when his team shot 28-of-67 from the floor, 39 percent in the first half to Virginia Tech’s 58 percent. Duke didn’t recover from Virginia Tech’s dominating first half.
The Hokies (12-1, 1-0 ACC) continued one of their best starts in years by utilizing their depth and claiming the momentum early. They never trailed in their first win over Duke since 2011.
It was hard for Duke to bounce back from its poor offensive rebounding in the first half and the lapses on that side in the second.
Virginia Tech buried a 3-pointer in the first half after Duke couldn’t secure a 50-50 ball, giving the Hokies an 8-0 lead to start the game. Duke pulled down nine offensive rebounds in the first half, while Virginia Tech posted nine second-chance baskets in that period and seven off fast breaks.
Justin Bibbs, who finished 4-of-5 from deep, was unstoppable during a second-half run where he scored seven straight points.
On the other end, Tech’s defense made shots hard to come by early, forcing Duke (12-2, 0-1 ACC) into some uncomfortable attempts.
Freshman Jayson Tatum nailed a 3-pointer from Matt Jones on a possession featuring good ball movement, but it wasn’t nearly enough down 17-11 and Duke struggling to find offense. Duke trailed 25-15 and had just two offensive rebounds at the 8:38 mark of the first. A few moments later, Bibbs sunk another triple that forced coach Mike Krzyzewski, who had already shed his suit jacket as the Hokies came out firing, to call a timeout.
Bibbs scored on three straight possessions. He answered a Kennard 3-pointer that brought Duke within a manageable 11, scored off his own steal and took advantage in transition after a defensive rebound by Ahmed Hill (17 points).
Two defensive rebounds by Virginia Tech mid-second half led to a quick 5-0 strike that gave the Hokies a 17-point lead. They made 8 of 13 triples on the day.
GEORGIA TECH 75, NORTH CAROLINA 63
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner says he has the nation’s least experienced roster.
He knows almost nobody thought his team would beat North Carolina so early into his first season.
“I’m really happy that this will give us some pep in our step, some momentum for the fan base,” Pastner said. “They know this is a rebuild, but hopefully they can see the big picture down the road of what we want to do.”
Josh Okogie scored 26 points, Ben Lammers had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Georgia Tech pulled off a major upset with a 75-63 victory over No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Justin Jackson finished with 16 points and Nate Britt scored 13 for the Tar Heels, who committed a season-high 20 turnovers. North Carolina (12-3, 0-1) never led after Okogie hit two free throws with 11:59 remaining.
Before tipoff it seemed the Jackets (9-4, 1-0) had little chance to win. They didn’t beat North Carolina A&T, which is 1-12, until the closing minutes on Wednesday. They also held off Wofford last week by four points and lost by 17 to Georgia. All were home games.
Okogie attacked on the Jackets’ end throughout. North Carolina didn’t adapt.
The Tar Heels, who lost to Villanova in the national title game last season, had won three straight overall and seven straight in the series, but they shot poorly, missing 21 of 26 3-point attempts and hitting just 33 percent overall.
North Carolina had a big advantage in the stands as their fans outnumbered Georgia Tech’s about three to one. The Tar Heels gave them few chances to get charged up.
CLEMSON 73, WAKE FOREST 68
WINSTON-SALEM (AP) — Clemson kept hanging around and staying within arm’s reach of Wake Forest, even as Tigers coach Brad Brownell said the game-long deficit “felt like it was worse than it was.”
Turns out, the Tigers had one good run in them after struggling to put one together most of Saturday.
Marcquise Reed scored 21 points and Clemson ended the game on a 15-0 run, erasing a 10-point deficit in the final 5 minutes to beat Wake Forest 73-68 in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
“We were fortunate because we didn’t play the way you should play to win a game like this for 32, 34 minutes,” Brownell said.
And yet, when the once sure-footed Demon Deacons began to stumble, the Tigers (11-2, 1-0) pounced.
Donte Grantham added 11 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:15 left after a turnover. That gave Clemson its first lead all day after trailing 36-31 at half and by 13 with 7 minutes left.
“We have grit,” said Grantham, who finished with 10 rebounds. “In the final stretch we knew we were a good team and we knew we had a run still left in us. We just happened to have the last run in the game.”
Clemson shot 50 percent and made 6 of 10 3-pointers after halftime, winning at Wake Forest’s Joel Coliseum for only the fourth time since the facility opened in 1989.
John Collins scored 20 points for the Demon Deacons (9-5, 0-2), who looked on their way to a win Danny Manning’s program needed if it hopes to make a climb in the league standings. But after taking a 68-58 lead on Mitchell Wilbekin’s drive with 4:51 left, Wake Forest missed its last nine shots to watch this one gradually slip away.
“There were some momentum-swinging plays in that second half that gave them some life, gave them some juice, gave them some energy,” Manning said.
MIAMI 81, N.C. STATE 63
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Three days after a sluggish outing against the Ivy League’s Columbia, Miami performed at a different level in its ACC opener.
Ja’Quan Newton scored 21 points as the Hurricanes defeated North Carolina State 81-63 Saturday.
The Hurricanes (11-2) expanded a nine-point lead at halftime to 61-43 on Ebuka Izundu’s tip-in with 7:23 remaining in the second half. The Wolfpack (11-3) got no closer than 67-56 on Dennis Smith Jr.’s 3-pointer with 3:53 left.
“It was an outstanding performance defensively from us from start to finish,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “We have great respect for NC State and their ability to put a ton of points on the board.”
Davon Reed scored 20 points and Bruce Brown finished with 17 points for the Hurricanes. Miami’s Kamari Murphy finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Miami, which committed 20 turnovers in the 11-point win over Columbia, reduced the total to eight against the Wolfpack. The Hurricanes also outrebounded North Carolina 41-33, including 17-13 on the offensive end.
The victory extended Miami’s winning streak to seven while the loss snapped a six-game winning streak for North Carolina State.
“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game today,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “Offensively, we’ve got to learn to have a lot more poise and execute what we’re trying to run better. Certainly you have to give those guys credit.”
Smith scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack. The freshman guard, projected as a NBA lottery selection, scored 16 points in the second half.
The Hurricanes acknowledged Smith’s status entering the game but also emphasized the conference’s talent depth.
“With all due respect, he’s a talented player but we treat him like any other player in this league,” Reed said. “There are a lot of talented players in this league.”
However, Gottfried knows his star player nonetheless will be a marked target the rest of the season.
“There’s no question people want to make a name,” Gottfried said. “That’s part of being Dennis Smith. You better learn quickly. And he does and he will. He knows that and he’s going to get everybody’s best shot like today.”
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack avoided a larger first-half deficit because of their 3-point efficiency. North Carolina State shot 11 of 30 from the field but 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
Miami: Under coach Jim Larranaga, the Hurricanes have reached the NCAA the previous two times they won their conference openers.
LONG DISTANCE CONNECTION
Reed’s three 3-pointers against North Carolina State increased his total to 17 from behind the arc in the last five games. Reed has hit a 3-pointer in Miami’s 13 games.
TWENTY AND SOMETHING
Smith scored 20 points or better for the seventh time this season. Smith shot 7 of 14 from the field and hit all three of his 3-pointers in the second half.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack open their home conference schedule against Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Miami: The Hurricanes begin their conference schedule at Syracuse on Wednesday.
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