Wake Forest upsets No. 18 NC State 86-84


Wake Forest upsets No. 18 NC State 86-84

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Jeff Bzdelik has watched his Wake Forest program stumble time after time, fumbling away close games, getting blown out in others. This time, the Demon Deacons didn't let the moment get away - even against a team picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Freshman Devin Thomas had a season-high 25 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to help Wake Forest upset No. 18 North Carolina State 86-84 on Tuesday night, the program's first win against a ranked opponent in nearly three years.

Travis McKie added 16 points for the Demon Deacons (10-8, 3-3 ACC), including two free throws with 3.4 seconds left that helped Wake Forest hold on down the stretch in a wild final 4 1/2 minutes.

N.C. State led by 16 points in the first half and 12 at halftime, then the Demon Deacons rallied to take a 10-point lead before the Wolfpack's frantic final push to set up a tense finish.

Ultimately, Wake Forest - a program filled with freshmen and trying desperately to return to relevance in the ACC - did just enough to earn a win that sent their fans storming midcourt to celebrate.

``There were a lot of moments,'' Bzdelik said of the game's swings, ``but we finished with a beautiful moment.''

The Demon Deacons had done little other than struggle in three seasons under Bzdelik, going a combined 5-27 in league play the previous two years. That included losses to the Wolfpack (15-4, 4-2) by 36 and 25 points in the past two meetings in Winston-Salem.

But Wake Forest is 3-0 at home in league games this season and now has its first win against a team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 since beating Georgia Tech in February 2010 under former coach Dino Gaudio, according to STATS LLC.

The win also managed to deny N.C. State its first 5-1 ACC start since 1988-89.

``I'm just sad to see that we lost this game like that,'' said Lorenzo Brown, one of several N.C. State starters hampered by foul trouble. ``We definitely shouldn't have let them come back. That was our fault. We've just got to come back with more intensity.''

Freshman Rodney Purvis scored 18 points to lead the Wolfpack, who fell to 1-2 since upsetting top-ranked Duke on Jan 12. Fellow rookie T.J. Warren scored 14 points, while C.J. Leslie scored 13 despite playing just 18 minutes due to foul trouble.

``It's not like we're still living in the moment of beating Duke,'' Purvis said. ``That game has been over with. ... We've just got to find our way and find ourselves and get back to playing the way we need to play.''

Wake Forest got 40 of its 51 points after halftime from freshmen behind Thomas. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward more than doubled his previous scoring high (12 points) on 10-for-13 shooting while also matching his season high for rebounds and blocks.

Thomas' performance came against a front line that included Leslie, the preseason ACC player of the year, and double-double machine Richard Howell.

``I think we're growing up every game,'' Thomas said. ``We're learning a lot from every game, every practice. I think we're doing a better job of finishing around the rim. That's one of our weaknesses but we're doing a better job of it.''

Fellow rookie Codi Miller-McIntyre added 15 points for the Demon Deacons, who shot 59 percent after halftime. Wake Forest won despite going the final 4:11 without a field goal, the last coming on Arnaud William Adala Moto's layup for an 82-72 lead.

But N.C. State made things interesting with a 10-1 run to close the gap to 83-82 on Leslie's free throw with 1:01 left.

But Leslie missed two free throws for the lead with 29.9 seconds left, then Scott Wood missed an open 3-pointer off an offensive rebound following Leslie's second miss. Then, after a free throw from C.J. Harris, the Wolfpack came up empty on two shots from inside the paint - one from Leslie while taking contact and a runner off a loose rebound by Purvis - with the chance to tie.

The Wolfpack had a final chance to tie or win after Leslie scored on a layup with 1.2 seconds left to cut it to two following McKie's late free throws. Warren stole a long inbounds pass near midcourt, but his final desperate heave wasn't close as the horn sounded and fans poured onto the court.

``What's that thing at the NCAA tournament: `One Shining Moment'?'' said McKie, a junior. ``It's definitely mine. This will be mine right here. I'll definitely remember this always.''

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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

The Washington Wizards lost to the San Antonio Spurs 98-90 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Streak continues: Many will tell you that San Antonio, TX is a wonderful city rife with history, good restaurants and warm weather. Please excuse the Washington Wizards if they hate the place.

They lost to the Spurs in a blowout on Wednesday and remain winless in San Antonio going all the way back to 1999. It was their 18th straight loss when playing at the Spurs.

The Spurs win games with their defense and this one was no exception. The Wizards scored their fewest points since Jan. 22, nearly two months, and shot just 42.7 percent. The Spurs hold opponents to the lowest points per game in the NBA (99.0) and the Wizards fell into all of their traps.

Bradley Beal was the only one immune to it. He had 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. The rest of the Wizards shot just 26-for-69 (37.7%).

Losing in San Antonio has come to be expected for the Wizards, but they picked a bad night to drop a game. The Cavaliers and Sixers both won. Philly winning means more because they passed the Wizards in the East and currently sit fourth while the Wizards are in the sixth spot. 

If the playoffs began with those seeds, the Wizards would see the Cavaliers in the first round. Even though the Cavs aren't what they were a year ago, that should be avoided if possible.


Hustle plays: The Spurs also beat the Wizards at the minor details of the game, something they have long been good at under head coach Gregg Popovich. They got the loose balls and offensive rebounds at key moments to either sustain or steal momentum away from Washington.

In the first half, 40-year-old Manu Ginobli dove on the ground to beat Ramon Sessions to a loose ball and it led to two points by Pau Gasol. In the third quarter, Patty Mills flipped around quickly to steal an outlet pass from Marcin Gortat that led to free throws. And in the third there was one play when the Spurs got three offensive rebounds and ultimately got to the free throw line again.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Wizards 43-34 overall and outdid them in offensive rebounds 12-8. They just wanted it more on this particular night.


Oubre stood out: The Spurs' defense got the best of most players on the Wizards, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. was an exception. The third-year pro has been struggling with his shot in recent weeks, so in this one he stuck to high percentage looks, at least early. He had 10 points in his first nine minutes on 5-for-7 shooting, many of those attempts right around the rim.

Oubre attacked the lane dribbling both to his left and his right. He finished with floaters, tough layups and on one fastbreak with a thunderous left-handed slam:

Oubre ended up with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He shot 9-for-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from three.

Oubre has continued to make an impact defensively, even when his shot is not falling. But he has to get more creative some nights to affect games when he isn't hitting from long range. Wednesday was a good example of how he can use his athleticism to take matters into his own hands.

It is a tricky balance, however, because sometimes his aggression can lead to mistakes. That certainly happened at times even in this game, as he had two turnovers. But when Oubre can contain his explosiveness, he can make a big difference.


Under the weather: Already without Wall, the Wizards had to shorten their rotation by two players against the Spurs as both Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott were out due to flu-like symptoms. In Meeks and Scott, the Wizards were missing two key pieces on their bench.

Instead of giving Tim Frazier and Jason Smith a rare and extended opportunity, head coach Scott Brooks instead chose to tighted things up. He relied heavily on the starters until the game was out of hand.

Brooks also got experimental, playing Tomas Satoransky (zero points, 0-for-7 FG) and Sessions together in the second quarter with Oubre and Otto Porter (12 points, seven rebounds) as the forwards. In the fourth quarter, we saw a lineup with three point guards: Sessions, Frazier and Satoransky.

The fact the Wizards had three days off before this game helped allow Brooks to rely on his starters early. It was also an opportunity for Brooks to see what life will be like when Wall returns. There is a chance Satoransky could see more time off the ball. This gave him another glimpse of how he can use Satoransky in more creative ways once the minutes at point guard go down significantly.


Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before returning home to host the Denver Nuggets on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington. That will be a special night at Capital One Arena as the Wizards retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. 

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!