Talking points: Pack & Heels back to the grind
Posted January 30, 2013
1. Appropriate that the first talking point will be about something that has happened once for NC State since the 1992-93 season: Winning their next ACC game after beating either Duke or North Carolina. The record now stands at 1-14.
That little factoid will be passed around as proof the Wolfpack treat contests against the Blue Devils and Tar Heels as Super Bowls. They're too hungover from all the celebrating to focus on the next one. Maybe that's the case, or maybe there's a little something more to it than a convenient story line.
A quick scan of ACC conference records makes it painfully obvious NC State just hasn't been a very good program in the last 20 years. The Wolfpack failed to notch more than six wins in league play until Herb Sendek's "breakthrough" 9-7 season in 2001-02. Even during that stretch of trips to the NCAA Tournament, they laid an egg with a 7-9 conference record in-between a pair of rare double-digit win totals.
Then came the Sidney Lowe experiment. The results? 25-55 in the ACC.
So when it appears NC State can't seem to string together wins following contests against Duke and North Carolina, the vast majority of the time they couldn't string much of anything together.
2. That being said, the Wolfpack were in position to beat Virginia in Charlottesville without their MVP on the court. It's hard enough to run a desired offense against the Cavaliers and it was even harder after Lorenzo Brown was sidelined with an ankle injury.
His absence impacted NC State's empty possessions down the stretch with a chance to take the lead. The Wolfpack had no field goals in the final four minutes of the game. Throw in 14 turnovers, half of which were committed by an ailing Calvin Leslie, and that's a recipe for defeat against Virginia's methodical tempo.
3. Tony Bennett isn't all that concerned with what taste-makers believe is quality basketball and it's paying off for Virginia this season. They haven't allowed an ACC opponent to crack 60 points and the Cavaliers are now positioned at 5-2 in the conference.
4. North Carolina's win over Boston College became less about the result and more about the status of PJ Hairston following a mid-air collision with Dexter Strickland. In a frightening scene, replays showed Strickland’s elbow striking Hairston’s head before he fell to the floor.
Hairston was examined on the court, unable to stand on his own and eventually taken to the locker room on a stretcher. He tweeted after the game, "thanks to everyone for the support, I'm okay just a very very bad headache…."
5. Hairston's concussion will table the ongoing debate about his minutes until he's full cleared to return. In the 12 minutes he logged against Boston College, Hairston came off the bench and hit all four attempts from beyond the arc. That offensive spark helped the Tar Heels get out to a 15-point lead over the Eagles at the break.
Strickland continues to draw negative attention from the fans, who will undoubtedly focus on the turnovers and 4-of-10 shooting.
6. Considering road wins in the ACC are at a premium this season and the year has been filled with odd results, North Carolina will take it.