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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Singler sheds shooting woes, Duke topples Temple 78-61

Posted by on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 8:47 AM

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/ DURHAM—Duke University senior Kyle Singler quashed murmurs Wednesday about his recent shooting rut, as he hit 10 of 19 field goals and racked up 28 points in leading the men's basketball team to a 78-61 trouncing of the Owls from Temple University.

The win took Duke to 27-2 for the season and extended the team's 35-game home winning streak, the longest active run in the NCAA.

The deafening Cameron crowd helped push No. 24-ranked Temple to its sixth loss of the season, further challenging a team whose lineup shifted not once, but twice in the past week due to injury, including that of forward Scootie Randall, Temple’s second-leading scorer.

“We were a little bit out of sorts, but you have to give most of that credit to Duke because they are so strong defensively,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said after the game.

Although the Blue Devils pulled through, they, too, seemed off-kilter in the first 10 minutes. The team shot just 37 percent from the field in the first half, and went the first five minutes of the game without a basket from senior Nolan Smith, who earned just five points by halftime.

The Blue Devils gave up a handful of easy layups and allowed Temple to score 20 of its 24 first-half points in second-chance shots—play somewhat incongruous with the team’s return to the No. 1 slot in this week’s Associated Press and Coaches polls. (Even the Blue Devil was celebrating the team’s climb up from No. 5, wearing a hand-scrawled athletic-tape headband that read “Back on Top”).

But with about five minutes left in the half, Duke started to find its groove. Two quick three-pointers from sophomores Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry re-energized the Cameron Crazies and sent Duke to the locker room up 31-24.

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Tar Heels step on the Wolfpack 75-63 at the RBC Center

Posted by on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 1:08 AM

packphoto.jpg

This game isn’t a must-win for State. It's beyond that, in the sense that the Pack needs to show they can play with Carolina, beat them on a good night on their home floor or else die trying if the Heels play lights out ball. As the great sportswriter said, it's not whether you win or lose that counts, it's whether you can play your best against the best competition and perform under pressure.

To say this season hasn’t gone the way the fans wanted or Sidney Lowe thought it would is to say the obvious.

Tracy Smith was hurt, C.J. Leslie wasn't ready, Ryan Harrow wasn’t ready, Lorenzo Brown had game but no scoring touch. All true, but irrelevant with just four conference games left before the ACC tournament. Smith’s had time to heal and the kids have had time to learn. State played well against Clemson, pretty well against Maryland on the road until they folded down the stretch, and they should be ready for this one against Carolina if, that is, they’re ever going to be ready before this season ends.

Lot of light blue in the RBC Center tonight, more than I remember at previous State home games against Carolina. It is loud, though. The fans will be into it if the Pack gives them reason to be.

***

And State does give them reason, battling to the final three minutes before Ryan Harrow, running a 3-on-2 break with State trailing 59-64, makes an uncharacteristically lousy, backward pass that's picked off by Kendell Marshall. Shortly, Harrison Barnes (16 points to lead all scorers despite 6 of 17 shooting from the floor) buries a 3 and Carolina's lead is eight again at 67-59 with two minutes remaining. At the end, it's UNC 75-63.

Key statistics: UNC wins the boards 47-33 and collects 19 offensive rebounds leading to 20 second-chance points; State had 12 offensive boards but only six second-chance points. In a game where neither team shot well, UNC's 14-point advantage on the offensive glass was the difference.

State loses at home on a night when Carolina doesn't play particularly well. The effort was there for State. The talent wasn't. The box score is here along with a game writeup from the Wolfpack sports information department.

***

Early on, it's all State.

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Wolfpack, Tar Heels host Senior Night games while Duke hits the road

Posted by on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 12:45 AM

It’s the penultimate day of regular-season action for the three Triangle ACC women's basketball teams, and all of them are seriously in need of wins.

UNC and N.C. State both have big home games tonight.

Everybody plays at 7 p.m.

N.C. State (12-15, 3-9 ACC), which is on a two-game winning streak, needs four wins to get a spot in post-season play and will look for revenge on Senior Night tonight against Boston College (18-9, 5-7). The Eagles, who beat the Wolfpack 77-67 on Jan. 20 in Chestnut Hill, need to keep winning to stay on track for an NCAA Tournament bid.

No. 13 UNC (22-5, 8-4), which is on a two-game slide, will host Georgia Tech (20-8, 8-4) on Senior Night in a game that will go a long way toward determining the No. 4 seed — and a first-round bye — in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels lead the series 51-14, but lost to Tech 71-70 on Jan. 6 in Atlanta.

Meanwhile No. 9 Duke (24-3, 10-2) will visit Virginia (15-13, 4-8), needing to win to stay in position for the ACC’s regular-season title. For Duke, any games before the NCAA field is announced will have major meeting for its NCAA seeding, while Virginia needs an upset to boost its long-shot hopes for an NCAA bid.

Regular-season finales are on Sunday in a day of Big Four action, with State visiting Wake Forest and UNC traveling to Duke.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rangers tie Canes late, win in shootout

Posted by on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 7:45 AM

RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—The St. Baldrick's Foundation shaved the heads of over one hundred fans before Tuesday's game between the Hurricanes and the Rangers to raise money for childhood cancer research. There's no official count yet of how many more fans tore their hair out after the game.

Eric Staal felled his brother Marc with a crushing hit in the second period, but the Rangers downed the Canes in a shootout, 4-3.
  • File photo by Peggy Boone
  • Eric Staal felled his brother Marc with a crushing hit in the second period, but the Rangers downed the Canes in a shootout, 4-3.
Carolina let another late lead vanish, squandering two 3-on-1 rushes down the stretch that could have put the game away in regulation. Instead, Wojtek Wolski tied the game with under two minutes remaining and then scored the only goal in the shootout as the New York Rangers foiled the Canes' bid to pull even in the conference standings, winning 4-3 before a near-capacity crowd.

Jussi Jokinen had a pair of goals for Carolina, Jay Harrison netted just his second of the year on an uncharacteristic power move to the net, and Cam Ward faced 46 shots in a hard-fought game that also featured a vicious brotherly collision.

Eric Staal decked his younger brother Marc with a hard, clean shoulder check along the boards in the second period. Marc did not finish the game, though apparently as a result of a knee injury inflicted earlier in the game. The moment, however, bespoke the competitiveness of the contest and the season series overall.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Wolfpack finally holds on for the big win, shocks visiting Tar Heels

Posted by on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 10:10 PM

NC State students sway during the Universitys alma mater.
REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State will be taking on UNC in women’s basketball for the 92nd time tonight, and has been the case for the past few years the Wolfpack has a chance to play spoiler.

When the two teams played in Chapel Hill on Jan. 14, the Tar Heels looked headed for a blowout before State made a long comeback and wound up losing by just 83-76.

Kellie Harper’s team has played by far its best basketball at home, and has yet to drop a double-digit defeat in its historic arena this season.

The Tar Heels (22-4, 8-3) need wins to stay in position for a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament, while the Wolfpack (11-15, 2-9) needs to make a big run to have any chance for post-season play.

State gets a big lead, loses it, and then pulls away down the stretch for an 88-72 shocker.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wolfpack hosts Tar Heels in women's grudge match tonight

Posted by on Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 11:58 PM

N.C. State is badly in need of a signature women’s basketball victory to help its chances of playing in the post-season.

NCSUs Bonae Holston (L) and UNCs Chay Shegog may duel in the paint again tonight.
  • File photo by Arianna Hoffman
  • NCSU's Bonae Holston (L) and UNC's Chay Shegog may duel in the paint again tonight.

And UNC needs to get headed in the right direction and could use a win in its quest for a bye in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

That will be the situation when the two old rivals clash tonight at 7 at Reynolds Coliseum in a game to be shown live on regional cable TV.

Sylvia Hatchell’s No. 13 Tar Heels (22-4, 8-3) will be clear favorites in the contest. But they have never, ever just been able to phone it in against the Wolfpack (12-5, 2-9), which will undoubtedly have a big partisan crowd in the house to help out.

The Wolfpack leads the series 50-41, falling in this season’s earlier meeting 83-76 on Jan. 14 in Chapel Hill despite 30 points from Marissa Kastanek.

State is coming off an 81-65 win at Virginia Tech on Thursday night that broke the Wolfpack’s eight-game losing streak in the ACC.

The Tar Heels haven’t played since a 78-66 home-court loss to Miami eight days ago.

The night is also scheduled to be a “green” event, a first for NCSU athletics. Beverage and food containers sold at the event will be either recyclable or compostible.

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Tar Heels winning despite offensive futility: thoughts on Saturday's 48-46 epic

Posted by on Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Perhaps bizarre rituals will be necessary to ignite UNCs offense
It says something that North Carolina continues to win games despite record-setting problems changing the numbers on the scoreboard. The Tar Heels delivered the most recent example of the trend on Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, trudging past Boston College 48-46.

Carolina’s 48-point effort was the most anemic scoring output in program history at the Dean Smith Center, which opened in 1986. And still, UNC has elevated its conference record to 10-2 and now stands at 20-6 overall.

Breaking down the team’s offense, the pattern is highly discouraging. Since the first half of the Duke game—140 total minutes of game time—UNC has shot miserably from the field and especially from the three-point stripe. The club’s struggles continued into the BC contest, as Carolina connected on only 37 percent from the floor and 18 percent from deep.

Much of the difficulty pertains to the wing players: Harrison Barnes, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and Reggie Bullock. Barnes has been playing better overall but has hit a slump from the perimeter, while the other three wings aren’t producing much of anything on offense.

But that’s the catch. As much as Strickland is a liability in a halfcourt offense, he played sensational defense at times against the Eagles and contributes heavily to club’s identity as a defensive fortress.

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Blue Devils bounce back big with a romp over Hokies

Posted by on Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 3:32 PM

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke returns home smarting from its blowout loss at Maryland three days ago, facing what may be the biggest mismatch in the ACC this season.

Duke guard Jasmine Thomas
The No. 7 Blue Devils (23-3, 9-2 ACC) will host Virginia Tech (11-15, 1-10), which is coming off a 16-point home loss to N.C. State that ended the Wolfpack’s eight-game ACC losing streak.

The Hokies’ big accomplishment since December has been a 12-point road win over Clemson six days ago.
But Duke leads the series 16-2 and will be a prohibitive favorite today.

And that’s the way it works out. The Blue Devils dominate from the first TV timeout to the final buzzer and roll to a 90-40 victory.

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Duke hopes to recover at home against last-place Hokies

Posted by on Sun, Feb 20, 2011 at 12:11 AM

On paper, it should be the biggest mismatch in ACC women’s basketball this season.

Duke guard Jasmine Thomas
Defending champion and first-place Duke (23-3, 9-2 ACC) comes into today’s noon home game with last-place
Virginia Tech (11-15, 1-10) smarting from a 69-47 loss at Maryland on Thursday night.

The Hokies, meanwhile, were losing to N.C. State 81-65 at home as the Wolfpack broke its eight-game ACC losing streak.

No. 7 Duke leads the all-time series 16-2, has won 21 straight games at home and 19 straight home games against ACC opposition.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Brindy's big night inspires Canes to beat Flyers

Posted by on Sat, Feb 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM

RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—Rod Brind’Amour brought the crowd to their feet to honor his brilliant, gutsy career. A bit later, Erik Cole did the same with a brilliant, gutsy goal.

Rod BrindAmours number 17 will never be worn in Carolina again.
Was Bates Battaglia anywhere in the building, perchance?

Brind’Amour’s number 17, newly installed in the RBC Center rafters, inspired the Carolina Hurricanes to play an exceptional game, beating the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 before a larger-than-capacity crowd that nearly brought the banner back down when Cole scored the winner with just three minutes remaining.

In 2002, when the Hurricanes made a run to the Stanley Cup Finals before falling to the Detroit Red Wings, Brind’Amour and Cole formed the hard-nosed “BBC Line” with Battaglia. On Friday night, however, Cole was centered by Eric Staal, Brind’Amour’s successor as captain. Staal made a Brindy-like play, wresting the puck from a scrum on the boards to start Cole and Jussi Jokinen on a 2-on-1.

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