NORTH CAROLINA 84, N.C. STATE 64 – Two careers may have made significant moves on Saturday in the Dean Dome. Sidney Lowe’s Wolfpack got blown out which will certainly cause unrest in Raleigh while UNC’s not-yet-so-super frosh Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 25 points.
Lowe won his first game as N.C. State’s coach against the Tar Heels in Raleigh four years ago, a win that seemed to signal the Wolfpack’s intent to build a program that could do more to challenge its highly ranked rivals. But while Lowe has continued to wear the red blazer that got plenty of attention that afternoon, the Tar Heels have won nine straight by big margins.
North Carolina ran out to a 13-2 lead while N.C. State struggled to make a basket, then never seriously challenged to cut into that lead and make things interesting.
Barnes scored a season-high 25 points and John Henson added 16 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks for the Tar Heels (15-5, 5-1 ACC), who ran out to a double-digit lead in the first 3 minutes and never looked back to continue their domination of their nearby rival.
Barnes picked up where he left off after hitting the winning 3-pointer in the final seconds at Maimi, following that with a breakout offensive performance that should quiet some powder blue critics.
The Wolfpack played without Ryan Harrow (illness), the freshman who recently had taken control of the starting point guard job. But Harrow’s absence didn’t explain why N.C. State shot just 36 percent—including 7-for-30 in the opening 20 minutes—or why the Tar Heels grabbed a 53-39 edge on the glass.
Freshman Lorenzo Brown scored a season-high 20 points to lead the Wolfpack, while fellow rookie C.J. Leslie had 14 points.
CLEMSON 62, #22 FLORIDA STATE 44 – Jerai Grant had 14 points, Demontez Stitt added 12 and the Tigers used their defense to upset No. 22 Florida.
Clemson (15-6, 4-3 ACC) forced 22 turnovers and held the Seminoles (15-6, 5-2) to less than 33 percent shooting from the field, numbers Florida State’s opponents have typically put up this season.
FSU had been on a four-game win streak that gave them their best ACC start since 1992-93. The Seminoles, who ended Duke’s undefeated season this month, moved into the poll this week as the ACC’s other ranked school. That’s likely to be short-lived with the loss.
Clemson rushed to 22-6 lead and the Seminoles never got closer than eight the rest of the way. It was the first victory against a ranked opponent for first-year Tigers coach Brad Brownell.
The Noles leading scorer Chris Singleton managed just two points the first 35 minutes, finishing with just eight. Bernard James also had eight points to lead Florida State.
WAKE FOREST 76, VIRGINIA 71 – C.J. Harris scored six of his 15 points in the final two minutes and Wake Forest rallied to beat Virginia 76-71 on Saturday for its first ACC victory.
Coming in on a five-game losing streak amid talk they could become the first school to go winless in the league in 24 years, the young Demon Deacons (8-13, 1-5 ACC) got some unlikely contributions and clutch plays down the stretch for only their second win in 11 games.
Six players scored in double figures, including Ty Walker (11 points), who had scored eight points in his entire ACC career coming in. Gary Clark added 10, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:44 left.
Assane Sene had a career-high 15 points and 13 rebounds and Joe Harris scored 14 points for the Wahoos (11-10, 2-5), who squandered at 48-38 second half lead. The Cavs, who have lost five of six, have dropped nine straight games at Wake Forest.
It was a victory that produced a wild celebration for players and a sense of relief for embattled first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik, who received strong public support from athletic director Ron Wellman a day earlier. (Is that ever good?)
Often playing three freshmen at the same time, Wake Forest hadn’t been closer than 19 points in any ACC game.