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    BACK TO '83: Wake Rips Wolfpack, 91-73; Faces Memphis State Next
     
     

    BY TIM PEELER

     

    GREENSBORO, N.C. Jim Valvano tried, extremely hard, to find a bright side to his team’s second consecutive 18-point defeat.

     

    “I’ve said this before, but I prefer to get our butts beat on the road,” Valvano said after watching his team lose 91-73 Saturday afternoon to Wake Forest at the Greensboro Coliseum. “We’re going to improve and get better. We have a lot of our home games later in the season when we will be better.”

     

    But less than 24 hours after losing for the fourth time in five games, the Wolfpack hits its homecourt Sunday against Memphis State, which until last week was ranked No. 1 in the nation, in a nationally televised contest that is slated to tip off at 1 p.m.

     

    So the coach’s silver lining had a gray tarnish that matched the gray clouds surrounding his team, which has yet to recover from the loss of senior leader Dereck Whittenburg to a broken foot a little over 10 days ago.

     

    The Wolfpack did get 17 points from senior point guard Sidney Lowe, who will likely have to continue his increased offensive output in Whittenburg’s absence. But Valvano admitted his team looked young and inexperienced against the veteran Demon Deacons, who made 14 steals and forced 15 Wolfpack turnovers.

     

    Valvano’s team not only had a hard time holding onto the ball, it also had a difficult time finding the basket. It made just 39.1 percent of its shots, including two dry stretches in each half that doomed any chance to steal a road victory. The Pack opened the game by missing eight of its first 10 shots, then missed seven of 10 shots during a crucial stretch of the second half.

     

    “We’re not ready to play yet without Whittenburg,” said freshman Ernie Myers, who took over the starting shooting guard position for Whittenburg. “We’re trying to work on different setups on offense and defense. But we’ve got to replace the 20 or so points a game we lost when Whit went out.

     

    “But more, we aren’t passing well. We’re not hitting our outside shots. We’ve got to do those things, but we didn’t do them today, obviously.”

     

    Inexplicably, the once-ranked Wolfpack (8-5 overall, 2-3 ACC) had trouble just getting the ball to one another against a streaking Wake Forest squad that is now tied for the ACC lead with North Carolina. The Deacons (13-2, 4-0) meet North Carolina next week in the Coliseum for the conference lead.

     

    “It wasn’t so much their pressure defense,” Lowe said. “But their half-court defense hurt us. They did a lot of trapping and caused us a lot of problems because we didn’t execute as well as we’re supposed to.

     

    “I’m not surprised we lost to them, because they are a good ball club, but we shouldn’t have lost to them by as much as we did.”

     

    The Deacons, led by sophomore guard Delaney Rudd’s career-high 22 points, scored easily on fast breaks throughout the second half, as Wake tightened its man-to-man pressure on defense and shot a sizzling 79 percent from the field after intermission. The Deacons shut down the Wolfpack’s frontcourt scoring and let its backcourt wreak havoc on the NC State guards.

     

    Senior Thurl Bailey, who scored 12 points in the first half, made just two of 11 shots after halftime to finish with 16 points and 10 rebounds in the game. But Lowe and Bailey were the team’s only double-digit scorers on a day when little went right for Valvano and his squad.

     

    “We knew our defense would have to be equal to the task, and I thought it was,” said Deacon head coach Carl Tacy, who recorded his 200th career victory. “It gave us the fast breaks and steals that we got. We stayed in pretty good shape defensively with different sets, and changes here and there got them out of their offensive rhythm. But it was the transition game with the fast breaks that came in the second half that spelled the difference.”

     

    Wake had five players in double digits, led by Rudd and including forward John Toms with 16, forward Alvis Rogers with 14, guard Danny Young with 12 and guard Kenny Green with 10.

     

    “They are a very quick team with Young, Rudd, Toms, Rogers and Teachey,” Valvano said. “They are going to beat some teams with that quickness. They are tailor-made for the (shot-clock) rule. A team that can pound the ball inside can hurt them, but we weren’t able to do that for 40 minutes.”

     

    The only other bright spot for Valvano and his charges is that the brutal January stretch of games will come to an end after Sunday’s 1 p.m. game against Memphis State, allowing his team to work on its many shortcomings without having to worry about a nationally ranked opponent. Three of the Wolfpack’s four opponents in this stretch Virginia, North Carolina and Memphis State have been ranked No. 1 in the country at some point this season.

     

    The third-ranked Tigers (13-1) come to Reynolds Coliseum with only one loss all season, against Virginia Tech.

     

    “We scheduled the Memphis State game with the idea that we’d be the best team we could be at this point,” Valvano said. “Obviously, that is not the case.”

     

    In an unusual move, the non-conference game will count as a Metro Conference game for the Tigers, because of that league’s unbalanced schedule.


    You may contact Tim Peeler at tim_peeler@ncsu.edu.

     

     


     

     

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