N.C. State upsets No. 1 Duke
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Surprisingly, juggernauts Duke and North Carolina were not picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference at the beginning of the season. North Carolina State, playing with expectations reminiscent of the Jim Valvano era, was picked to win the ACC behind second-year coach Mark Gottfried.
Not as surprisingly, Duke got off to a hot start and became the No. 1 team in the country, starting ACC play once again as a favorite to win the league and leaving the upstart Wolfpack forgotten as a contender.
Gottfried’s veteran N.C. State group reminded the country why the Wolfpack are a force to be reckoned with in both the ACC and the country on Saturday, upsetting top-ranked Duke 84-76 for its first loss of the season.
“I think we had lot of toughness, we rebounded the ball better in second half and defended them well,” Gottfried said on ESPN after the game. “We went in last year, played well and didn’t win. Our guys remembered that and accepted the challenge (Saturday).”
After the final buzzer and the win was finalized, N.C. State fans erupted into pandemonium and immediately rushed the court.
“I’m proud of them,” Gottfried said of his players. “I hope they all enjoy it.”
C.J. Leslie paced the Wolfpack with 25 points and 6 rebounds, while senior forward Richard Howell plucked a whopping 18 rebounds to go with 16 points. Junior guard Lorenzo Brown contributed 12 points and dished out 13 assists. N.C. State started 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1989.
“They’ve got better chemistry right now,” ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl said. “Too many weapons on this team.”
With Duke’s loss and No. 3 Arizona and No. 25 Wyoming’s loss earlier in the week, No. 2 Michigan is now the last undefeated team in the country.… [For more on No. 21 N.C. State upsets No. 1 Duke, makes ACC statement, click here.]