It seems like Saturday’s North Carolina State-Duke game determined the ACC champions early.
N.C. State was ranked Number 6 at the beginning of the season, but with losses to Oklahoma State and Michigan, they have dropped to Number 20 in the nation. Meanwhile Duke, who was ranked below N.C. State to start the year, was Number 1 in the nation, beating three top-five teams. The Blue Devils had an impressive résumé coming in to their first true road game. But that all changed on Saturday.
The game started with the Wolfpack leading early, then Duke jumping out to a 27-19 lead with 8:14 to go in the first half. But Scott Wood, a fantastic three-point shooter, got one to go with the foul. Wood and Tyler Thornton got in to a heated argument and exchanged words, getting a double technical. That just showed how fierce of a rivalry this is. From there the Wolfpack went on a 10-2 run before Duke called a timeout. The Wolfpack led going in to the second half.
The crowd was ferocious in the first half, having all sorts of big heads and nonsense to distract the Duke players. The PNC Arena (formerly known as the RBC Center) is always rambunctious with all he students, and they didn’t disappoint tonight. The crowd had a reaction to every call, good or bad. Why am I telling you this? You’ll figure it out at the end.
Anyway, the second half started out with Wolfpack forward Richard Howell scoring four straight points (Go Beard Gang!). From then on, it was both teams trading baskets back and forth. But then, with the Wolfpack leading 73-67, the inevitable happened. Seth Curry, arguably Duke’s best three-point shooter, injured his left knee. He was already dealing with a right knee injury, but Curry slipped and his knee hit the ground hard. Curry was able to walk off the court with some help, but never came back in the game.
After that, it was a game of fouling for the Blue Devils. They tried to stop the clock as much as they could, but the Pack made all their free throws. The three-pointers just weren’t falling for Duke. The buzzer finally rang. But before that havoc happened, as Lorenzo Brown chucked the ball in the air, his wish came true. He wished that once in his Wolfpack career he would have the students storm the court. This is where the crowd comes in.
The whole student section was allowed to come and boy did they come fast. “The students rushed the court before the clock expired,” said Rida Fatima, a student at N.C. State. “The commentator got mad at us because we hit him when we ran.” Well, many Duke players were still on the court, hurrying to get off. One student, who was in a wheelchair, went to the middle of the court in the first wave and fell over. Star forward C.J. Leslie picked him up and tried to find his wheelchair. This just shows how excited students were, as this is a huge win for the Pack. Don’t worry, the student in the wheelchair is okay, and he’s happy, just like the rest of the N.C. State fans.