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Demon Deacons defeat foul-prone Wolfpack 86-84

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WINSTON-SALEM — N.C. State didn't know who Devin Thomas was before Tuesday's game. The Wolfpack does now.

With 25 points and 14 rebounds, Thomas led Wake Forest to an improbable 86-84 win over No. 18 N.C. State on Tuesday at Joel Coliseum. It was the second straight road loss for the Wolfpack and the second straight time an opposing fan base rushed the court.

Thomas, a freshman forward, made sure the Wake (10-8, 3-3 ACC) fans could celebrate their first win over in-state ACC opponent under third-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.

Thomas hadn't scored more than 12 points in his first 17 college games but was able to get loose against N.C. State's bullfighter defense, which was handcuffed by foul trouble and indecision.

Freshman guard Rodney Purvis led N.C. State (15-4, 4-2) with 18 points but also summed up the Pack's problems with Thomas, who entered the game fourth on the team in scoring and averaging 6.5 points per game.

"I didn't even really know who he was," Purvis said. "He's a freshman right? He's definitely really good. He has a great future."

Thomas added nine offensive, four assists, four blocks and four steals. He had steal and assist which set up Travis McKie's layup at 5:15, which gave Wake an 80-72 lead.

"You look at his line, good gracious, what can you say?" Bzdelik said.

McKie (16 points) and freshman guard Codi Miller-McIntyre (15 points) scored from the outside when Thomas wasn't scoring on the block.

"My teammates kept feeding me the ball so I was playing with a lot of confidence so I think that helped us out a lot," Thomas said.

As did N.C. State's porous defense, which allowed 51 points in the second half. The Pack let what once was a 16-point lead turn into its first loss to Wake in six games.

Not that N.C. State didn't make it interesting in the final moments interesting after falling behind by 10.

C.J. Leslie, who was limited to 18 minutes because of foul trouble, had a potential game-tying layup blocked by Aaron Rountree with 12 seconds left.

Still down 84-82, the rebound fell to Purvis about eight feet from the basket.

"It was definitely a good look," Purvis said. "I was wide open and it rimmed out."

Leslie had one more tip at Purvis' rebound but couldn't convert. A last-second steal by T.J. Warren (14 points) at half court and subsequent 3-pointer at the buzzer would have won the game for State - but it never got to the rim.

Leslie, who finished 13 points, also went 1 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final 61 seconds with two chances to tie the game. After Leslie's third miss, with 29 seconds to play, an offensive rebound by Richard Howell gave State a chance, down 83-82, to take the lead but Scott Wood's 3-pointer from the top of the key was short.

Not that all of the late, missed chances or foul trouble were to blame for the loss, N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said.

"I don't think we defended nearly as well as could in the second half," Gottfried said. "That's on us, we have to be a lot better than that."

N.C. State had won the previous two in Winston-Salem by a combined 61 points. The Pack looked like it was on its way to another rout when it led 47-31 with 61 seconds left in the first half.

Instead of another stone cast against Bzdelik, it turned out to be the highlight of his beleaguered tenure.

"We live in the moment," Bzdelik said. "And this is a great moment.

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Ugly

Wow, State had so many chances to win this one at the end. They failed on so many accounts, but gotta give some credit to WF, as well. They made the FTs when they had to.

Ugly

Seems like every ranked team has an ugly game: I think 10 or so have lost to unranked teams in the past week not to mention lower-ranked teams knocking off #1's and 2's.

Anyway, Wake has played well at home and if they can finish at .500 + 1, they should get into the NIT.

That was horrible

But not the end of the world as we know it.

Why did State lose this one? Lack of focus and intensity. Wake won every 50-50 ball and every contested rebound. State's lackadaisical approach resulted in unforced turnovers, slack defense, dumb fouls and poor foul shooting. Then they panicked and got totally out of sync.

Why was the Pack so good at the line vs. Duke and so bad most other games? Because they were engaged for 40 minutes that game. This is a team of good shooters who should be better at the free throw line. It's a mental, not physical problem.

I'd like to attribute at least part of State's problem at Wake to the 2-day turnaround, but that would let them off too easy. They have struggled with intensity too often this year. When they decide to play everyone like they played against Duke, we'll see the team we expected. They are capable, but they have to make the choice.

Very well expressed

and right on target, I believe. Lack of focus and intensity, along with poor foul shooting has been the Pack's problem all year, last night it reared its ugly head once again.

Howell plays hard---he is our MVP---but it appears to me that he is so intent on not fouling out of the games that he is playing too soft defensively. Our interior defense has been awful; that's two career nights back-to-back the opposition has had against us. And Leslie? Well Leslie will always be Leslie---he will play as hard as he wants to, or thinks he has to---we might as well get used to it, if we haven't already.

We just never know which Wolfpack team is going to show up. We have a good team; we can have a great team, if Gottfried can get into these players minds and figure out what motivates them. Until then, we are not going to see them reach their full potential, which I believe is unlimited.

.....Take care

Too upset to post

Last night. My take is, Gott needs to accept the blame. It's his job to get team ready to play. It's his job to prevent the let down that is now 3 games old. The Md game was pathetic. We were lucky to beat Clemson. Now Gott let's a team with all this talent blow a 16 pt lead? We got beat after every timeout! We had all of that we can take under Sydney. Yes it's pathetic. But I'm glad I didn't get online last night. My post might have GOTTen me banned. Patience is hard. Nobody expected these guys to run the table, but games like this make me sick. So, Pack, who shows up Sat? Somehow, I think it's up to Gott. steve'73

Gott's responsibility

While I do agree that Coach Gottfried must accept responsibility for this loss and for the let down since Duke, I have a different take on why (besides the fact that he is the head coach and is ultimately responsible anyway).

I think Gott has proven he knows how to get his team ready to play. The proof is in the improvement in last year's team and the carryover into most of this year. Virtually every player on this team has improved dramatically when compared to the Sid years.

I believe Gott has done all he can to put each player in the best position to achieve success. But once the players hit the floor, it is their responsibility to make the most of the opportunity. They have fallen short since the Duke game and that is on them, moreso than Gott.

I do however believe that Gott is making a mistake by sticking mostly to his 6 man rotation. Clearly, there is a drop off in production when Vandenberg and Lewis enter the game, but I think Gott has to live with it and get at least 10 minutes out of each of those guys. Maybe the regulars would be less inclined to play soft if they knew they would be on the floor for less minutes. Also, fatigue would become less of an issue.

Jordan and Tyler are going to have to make key contributions next year, but there is no reason they shouldn't be contributing more this year. Jordan probably is not going to get much better than he is now, but he did a nice job in the first half against Wake and I though he deserved more time in the second half than he got. Tyler is struggling a bit now, but he will be a good player for the Pack in the future. With more minutes now, I think he will improve this year.

Gott has rightly pushed several of his players out of their comfort zone. He needs to get out of his with respect to Vandenberg and Lewis.

Are you kidding me

State lets this game get a way? Where is Leslie? Too much talent . At large bid to NCAA. Typical State. State is not big time. Please drop them from top 25.

wolfpack basketball

Fire Gottfried and leave the ACC. NC State is pathetic.

If u think this is bad,

Wait until the fantastic 4 are gone next year. We need to rethink our expectations for next year. And we need t Get It Done This year! steve'73

Keep the Gottfather

Keep the Gottfather and bring in the bench! At least they'll give it their all!

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.
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