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Wake Forest upsets No. 18 NC State 86-84

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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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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

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That time new Wizard Troy Brown dunked on No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley

Back in high school, the newest Washington Wizard Troy Brown was an athletic freak. So much so that Brown dunked over the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III.

Playing at Centennial High School from Las Vegas, Nevada, the 15th overall pick went straight at the dominating 6-11 Bagley and posterized the man.

Now from the other side: 

Although both were merely kids at the time (an each a few inches shorter), still you cannot question the confidence and athleticism of the Wizards' top pick. 

Heck, Brown is still athletic.

Now Oregon never got the chance to play Duke this past season, but Brown will get two chances for another poster on his wall with Bagley now on the Sacramento Kings. 

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Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

Now the Islanders' coach, Barry Trotz explains why he left the Capitals

DALLAS — Hours after being named head coach of the New York Islanders on Thursday, Barry Trotz made his first public comments since stepping down in Washington earlier in the week.

And, from the sounds of it, his departure was mostly a business decision.

“Yeah, obviously, I love the D.C. area,” he told reporters on a conference call. “But when it came to the business aspect, from my standpoint, I felt that it wasn’t really sincere [given] what we did together. So I decided that it was better to just move on.”

“I thank the fans,” he added. “I’m glad we could get it done. I said we could get it done in four years, and we did.”

Although the value of his contract with the Islanders has not been publicly disclosed, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Trotz is set to earn “at least $4 million” per year—or more than twice what he was earning in Washington.

A source told NBC Sports Washington earlier this week that Trotz, who directed the Caps to their first Stanley Cup two weeks ago, sought $5 million per season for five seasons. The five-year term, that source said, was a non-starter as far as the Caps were concerned, given the relatively short shelf life of NHL coaches and the fact that Trotz had already been in Washington for four seasons.

When it became clear that the sides weren’t going to close the considerable gap between their positions, Trotz offered to step down and the resignation was accepted, making the 55-year-old a free agent.

When “I got the [counteroffer], I guess I knew it was time to go in a different direction,” he said.

In New York, Trotz replaces Doug Weight, who was fired earlier this month along with GM Garth Snow. Lou Lamoriello, a longtime NHL executive, took over for Snow and immediately started a search for a new head coach.

Once Trotz became available, it didn’t take Lamoriello to zero in on the NHL's fifth all-time winningest coach. The two met, exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they had found a good fit in one another. Trotz said he's already reached out to the Islanders' star captain, John Tavares, who could become the biggest prize on the free agent market on July 1. 

And, like that, Trotz now is the coach of a Metropolitan Division foe. The Caps and Isles will face off four times next season, beginning with a Nov. 26meeting in New York.

It’ll be weird, for sure. But professional sports is a business. And all sides involved in the Trotz saga were served a painful reminder of that this week.

Asked if he felt wanted in Washington, Trotz said: “Well, I’ll leave that up to the Caps to answer that. I think, absolutely. We just won a cup together and so I don't think that was an issue. I think it was more principle.”

In the end, Trotz wanted to be compensated like one of the top coaches in the game. And now he will, settling in behind big market coaches such as Toronto’s Mike Babcock ($6.25 million per year), Chicago’s Joel Quenneville ($6 million) and Montreal’s Claude Julien ($5 million).

“It’s good to be wanted,” he said. “It happened really quickly because you go from one emotion of winning the cup to the next emotion of leaving the team that you just won the Cup with, and you have to make some quick decisions. I know the timing of it—end of the season, the draft coming up, free agency [and] all that—there was some urgency on that. Both parties knew that, so we went to work at it and got it done.”

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