N.C. State goes for improbable sweep

Lowly Wolfpack faces UNC after second win over Virginia Tech

ACC men's notebook

February 21, 2007|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

North Carolina State has swept the regular-season series against the No. 4 team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now the undermanned yet undeterred Wolfpack is aiming for the top, and it "scares the dickens" out of North Carolina coach Roy Williams.

The league-leading Tar Heels (23-4, 9-3) will host N.C. State at 9 tonight hoping to avenge a Feb. 3 loss to the Wolfpack. N.C. State (14-11, 4-8) just handed Virginia Tech its worst loss of the season. Williams watched as N.C. State shot 66.7 percent from the field and made 11 of 15 three-pointers against the Hokies.

"They were scary [Sunday], there's no question about that," said Williams, whose team was swept by Virginia Tech.

"If they come out and shoot 80 percent, I don't care who they're playing - they're going to be tough for anybody to handle," he said. "We've got to hope they miss some of those shots, we've got to hope we shoot and make some of those shots, and hopefully we can do a better job defending. At their place, we gave them so many open shots."

N.C. State has only four conference wins this season, and three of them came against Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Sunday's stunning 81-56 win over the Hokies ended N.C. State's three-game losing streak.

N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe is keeping his game plan - and his wardrobe - on the down low. A tailor in Raleigh, N.C., handmade an impossible-to-miss red suit for the first-year coach, which he donned during the first matchup against Carolina.

"I had been holding it," he said, "waiting for what I felt was the right time."

Apparently, it's only reserved for special games. Will he wear it tonight?

"I don't know," Lowe said with a chuckle. "We'll have to see about that."

Moving forward

After his team was blown out by North Carolina, Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser made some changes in the decor of the Demon Deacons' locker room.

Prosser took down the league standings - where his team was in last place - and removed the Top 25 rankings, in which Wake Forest did not appear.

"We were last in the ACC," Prosser said. "I said: `Listen, don't worry about standings. Don't worry about our record. Let's just work real hard to be excited to play Clemson, to be excited to play Miami and not to worry about anything else but the game immediately ahead of us, and if there's negativity around themselves or the team, just try hard to not worry about any of that.' "

This strategy seems to be working.

Wake (13-13, 4-9) has won back-to-back games for the first time since the beginning of January and is no longer in last place heading into tonight's 7 o'clock game at Georgia Tech (17-9, 5-7). The Yellow Jackets lost to Wake, 85-75, on Jan. 30.

The other guard

When discussing Virginia's backcourt, it's hard not to mention Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds in the same breath, but when it comes time for All-ACC selections, coach Dave Leitao expressed concern that Reynolds might not get his due.

Both guards have scored in double figures for 14 consecutive games, and one of the two has led the team in scoring in 14 of the past 15 games. Each has scored 461 points this season, and they are tied for fourth in the ACC with 18.4 points per game. It's Singletary, though, who Leitao said has the "reputation."

"Sean has got a reputation at least in these parts and nationally," said Leitao, whose team is tied with North Carolina for first place in the league and has won nine ACC games for the first time since 2000-01. "J.R., he started off the season a little slow but arguably could be up there with Sean and [Virginia Tech guard Zabian] Dowdell as the best player or best guard in this league. I think it goes unnoticed because he doesn't carry the reputation.

"We all seem to judge things as much on reputation as ability," Leitao said. "If you look at the statistics, especially over the second half of the year, it would be challenging to find another guy who has been as consistent and as good as he has been."

Unless, of course, that other guy is Singletary.


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