Even with UNC's unsightly stumble at Maryland on Saturday (the Heels squandered an easy win via one of the worst endgames I've seen a supposedly elite team play), the ACC regular season title is still theirs to win. They can even lose another game as long as it isn't at home on Senior Day against Duke, and will still finish first via tiebreakers. Barring a total Tar Heel meltdown over the next couple of weeks, at this point we're reduced to watching the rabble play musical chairs with slots 2-6 (more or less) and waiting it out until sweaty-palmed tournament season arrives.
Which is to say: It's a great time for Durham Bulls notes!
TV/ABC — Carolina's run of good fortune finally ended.
The Tar Heels, recently prone to long defensive lapses, had the mistiming to play poorly on both ends of the court in a disastrous second half that cost them a 16-point lead — and ultimately the game — on Saturday at Maryland. The Terps battled to send the game into overtime and ultimately prevailed 85-82.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM - As Gerald Henderson and Jon Scheyer left the court in the final minute of No. 9 Duke's demonstrative victory over No. 8 Wake Forest, they received bear hugs from their coaches for having the offensive games of their careers. The two juniors combined for 65 points (Henderson had a career-high 35, Scheyer a career-high 30), propelling Duke past Wake Forest in an unusually high-scoring shootout at Cameron Indoor.
Wake, who shot 60 percent from the field, battled back from a 22-point deficit in a turnover-ridden first half, and were within two points when Scheyer leaned in and executed a pitch-perfect Reggie Miller flop behind the three point line, resulting in three free throws, and a Duke lead that Wake could never overcome.
It was a "huge play," Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game, which he called the team's biggest at Cameron in three years.
Dear Carolina Hurricanes,
Please, do not send Tim Conboy back down to the minors, even if you start getting injured players back. This is for your own good.
The Hurricanes summoned Conboy from the Albany River Rats on Thursday before the team’s game against the New York Islanders. All three of the games since then have been wins. Of course, all three games were against teams outside of the playoff picture, but here are some more facts for your consideration.
A statistician for the team’s website compiled this stat and put it on Conboy’s player page: in eight games with Conboy on the roster this season, the Hurricanes are 5-0-3. Since Conboy has been with the ‘Canes organization, the team has gone 18-4-5 with him on the roster. And this is a call-up, someone who isn’t considered good enough to be a full-time NHL-er. Someone who is around only because those who should be playing in his place are injured, suspended, what have you. Those stats are starting to look less and less like a coincidence and more like correlation.
Gerald Henderson has 18 points, including several dunks off steals, and freshman PG Elliot Williams has four steals, including three in a row off inbounds passes.
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RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—In over a decade of existence and 13 games, the Hurricanes have never bested the Avalanche at home or away. In one of the team’s most inconsistent seasons on record, it finally managed to defeat Colorado, 5-2, and win its third in a row. Matt Cullen scored his first career hat trick and the ‘Canes crawled within one point of the 8-seed, at least temporarily.
The game was pegged as Military Appreciation Night and a large display of helicopters and armored cars were on display outside of the RBC Center for wide-eyed little boys have their picture taken in. Military personnel were given the same discount that students on College Nights receive and the different branches were seemingly grouped together in the stands. The U.S. Marines were proud but not few, and took the title of loudest and most boisterous at the game.
RBC CENTER/RALEIGH – Aside from the fact that two N.C. State players claimed Bad Boys II as their all-time favorite movie during a Jumbotron vignette that played during N.C. State's 72-67 win over Virginia in Raleigh, the game's most shocking statistic of the night might also be, ironically, the team's most gratifying one: Brandon Costner, zero points.
It is the first game this season the Pack's points leader has gone scoreless. But, the fact that N.C. State (15-10, 5-7 ACC) was able to pull out its third win in the past four games, and its fourth in the past six, is a testament to the balanced attack Coach Sidney Lowe has emphasized.
Sunday night, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (20-4, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) visit Cameron Indoor Stadium to play the return trip of the conference home-and-home match up. The last time these teams met, the Demon Deacons gave the then No. 1 ranked Blue Devils (21-5, 7-4 ACC) their first conference loss on a James Johnson basket with .8 seconds remaining.
Both teams have matching 7-4 in conference records, which places them both squarely in the four-way logjam for second place, along with Florida St. and Clemson. A win here for either team would move them, at least briefly, alone in second place at 8-4.
The game also has NCAA Tournament seeding consequences. Wake Forest and Duke both know they’ll be dancing in March, but where and what seed is still up for debate.
In the Indy's basketball preview issue last December, we took a position-by-position look at Duke's roster. Sophomore Nolan Smith had recently replaced senior Greg Paulus as the team's starting point guard, but we noted that Coach Mike Krzyzewski seemed content to keep a rivalry between the two brewing. At the time, Coach K insisted that Paulus would either play "with [Smith], or for him." Indeed, following Duke's 27-point loss to Clemson, Paulus replaced Smith in the starting rotation, reclaiming his role as the team's leader--in what would, apparently, be a brief coup d'etat.
After squeaking by Miami in overtime, a Paulus-led Duke team went on its first losing streak in a calendar year, falling consecutively to UNC and BC. Yesterday, Coach K turned to his number three option on the flow-chart to start against St. John's: freshman McDonald's All-American Eliot Williams, who we said in December could "provide relief--and bursts of energy--down the stretch." We meant, like, mid-way through the second half, not the season. Nevertheless, Duke won, 76-69, and Williams went 5-for-6 for a neat 11 points. He's scrappy, and not the best defender (certainly not as good as Smith), but he gives it his all, approaching his defense much like a linebacker. His eyes are always on the ball, even if he's not quite sure where his feet are. According to the AP recap, Coach K said he was impressed by Williams' "verve" in practice.
There was one thing missing from Williams' performance yesterday, however: he didn't log a single assist. We suspect that may have been intentional--or at least tolerable--on the part of Coach K. (He also played Smith for 20 minutes, at both guard positions, and, as usual, power-forward Kyle Singler led the team in assists.) In fact, as we predicted back in December, the point position may be "less about dropping dimes, and more about leading the team up the court with confidence." Make that, leading the team up the court, and getting the ball into the hands of Singler, Gerald Henderson or John Scheyer (all of whom have been known to dribble the ball up-court themselves). All three can pass, and create shots, on their own, and they've been at the core of Duke's successes this season. The problem is, 3-out-of-5 dependable starters hasn't quite cut it. In any case, we'll be anxious to see who Coach K starts at the one-spot versus Wake, and--more importantly, perhaps--if he utilizes that player as a true point guard.
But then, ours is a culture in which CBS was assessed a $550,000 fine by the Federal Communications Commission for unwittingly broadcasting an image of Janet Jackson's nipple. (The fine was tossed out by a federal court last year.)