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    BACK TO '83: Bailey Serves UNLV Crow in 71-70 Win

    March 20, 1983 




    CORVALIS, Ore. What side dish is best served with crow? Hushpuppies? French fries? How about a nice Destiny salad?


    Whatever it might be, send the special-delivery package here, to Gill Coliseum, in care of Nevada-Las Vegas forward Sidney Green, the man who unleashed the fury of NC State senior Thurl Bailey.


    The day before Sunday’s second-round game in the NCAA West Region Green made gave an inspiration for the ages, saying at a Saturday press conference “Bailey hasn’t didn’t impress me that well.” Perhaps he hadn’t right up until the time that Bailey twice out-hustled Green for rebounds in a furious flurry at the end of the game, scoring the go-ahead basket with three seconds to play.


    The Pack’s defense then held on to prevent a final desperation shot by the Rebels, taking the 71-70 victory, as Jim Valvano’s team won its fifth straight game in the waning seconds or in overtime, dating back to last week’s ACC Tournament. Three of those five wins over North Carolina, Virginia and Pepperdine have been against teams that have ranked No. 1 in the nation at some point this season.


    “We can lose, I know that,” said Bailey, who has tasted defeat 10 times with his teammates this season. “But also, I know that we can’t be beaten easily. We’ve gone too far against all the odds. I’m beginning to think it might just be in the cards for us.”


    Here’s why: With 11:40 to play, the Runnin’ Rebels led 52-40, primarily on the strength of Green’s superb play. The one-time NC State recruit, now in his final season with Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebels, was masterful in staking his team to its lead with his inside scoring, finishing with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds.


    But the Wolfpack has trailed in the second half in all five of those post-season wins, so falling behind isn’t that big a deal.  And it didn’t hurt that Green picked up his fourth foul with 4:32 to play.


    “I didn’t call a time out and say We’ve got them right where we want them,’” Valvano said of the big deficit. “All I asked the kids was just don’t quit. When we start to do things at the end of the game, you have to have a chance for things to go well. Our job is to be in a position to win.”


    Bailey put them there by scoring 10 of the Wolfpack’s next 16 points, including a three-point play after drawing Green’s fourth foul. In a little over five minutes, it was a two-point ballgame, and the two teams stayed close the rest of the way. The Pack, however, never managed to regain the lead it lost with 8:10 to play until the game’s final moments.


    And play was intense. Valvano even went on the floor to scream at Vegas point guard Danny Tarkanian, the son of the opposing coach, who was chirping at the Wolfpack bench.


    With 2:05 remaining on the clock, Green converted a three-point play after Whittenburg fouled him on a dunk, giving Vegas a five-point lead. Lowe, who played most of the game in foul trouble, was mistakenly credited with the foul, causing Valvano near heart failure at the prospect of losing his point guard.


    Little, however, fazes a team that was down by five points with 23 seconds to play in overtime against Pepperdine.


    Ever-improving sophomore Lorenzo Charles was left alone for a dunk with 1:49 to play and Whittenburg converted two free throws with 1:28 to play, cutting the Vegas lead to 69-67.


    What was most costly for the Rebels just like North Carolina, Virginia and Pepperdine before them was their inability to hit critical free throws down the stretch, missing five of their final eight attempts. Freshman Eric Booker went to the line with 1:05 remaining and made only one of two free throws, scoring the Rebels’ final points of the game.


    After Bailey scored with a baseline jumper, the Vegas lead was down to 70-69, putting the Wolfpack within striking distance of yet another unlikely victory.


    NC State sophomore Terry Gannon fouled freshman Eldridge Hudson with 32 seconds to play, and the freshman missed the front end of his one-and-one opportunity. Charles grabbed his 11th rebound of the game his fourth double-figure total in the last five games and quickly passed the ball to Whittenburg. Valvano could have called a timeout, but decided to let his veteran team play on.


    “We were on a roll and didn’t want to give them time to set their defense,” Valvano explained.


    After a couple of crisp passes, the ball went to Whittenburg, who pulled up for an 18-foot jumper with eight seconds on the clock. Afterwards, he admitted that he pulled the trigger too early.


    But that gave Bailey just enough time to grab two rebounds and score the game-winner. He tried to tip in Whittenburg’s first miss, but the ball bounced off the back of the rim. He landed on the tip of his toes, went back up over Green, grabbed the ball and softly hit a three-foot game winner.


    “I still don’t know how that kid got the ball,” Tarkanian said.


    Bailey didn’t either, to be honest.


    “I was just looking to get something up that had a chance to go in,” Bailey said. “I don’t remember anything else about it. I just knew we had to have a field goal to win.


    “When I saw that Dereck was not going to dish off on his drive, I started to get in position for a rebound. When they saw he wasn’t going to pass off, they started to collapse on him. That gave a little opening for the rebound. Sidney Green was in front of me when I tried the first tip, and he got a little piece of the ball. I grabbed that miss and stepped back and put it back up.”


    But none of these post-season wins have ended easily for the Wolfpack the Rebels had three seconds to answer with a miracle of their own. After a long pass to midcourt, and three times outs by the two teams, the Rebels were set for a final shot.


    Tarkanian wanted to get the ball to Larry Anderson, who had scored 12 second-half points, but the junior small forward was double-teamed on the inbounds pass. Junior reserve Eric Booker, who nailed a 40-foot basket at the end of the game to give the Rebels the Pacific Coast Athletic Championship just a week ago, grabbed the inbounds pass and put up a 35-foot desperation shot. It sailed way over the backboard, and the game ended.


    Valvano ran on the court to celebrate, screaming “I love you guys! But you are aging me to death.”


    The Wolfpack which will travel straight to Ogden, Utah, from here without returning to Raleigh before Thursday night’s West Region semifinal against Utah is gaining an air of invincibility. After so many close wins, it’s hard to blame them.


    “I hope there isn’t anything we can’t come back from,” Lowe said. “We’ve just been able to hand in there and come back. I don’t know what too big a lead is, but I hope we will never see that. Regardless of how much we are down, we never give up.”


    Bailey’s 25 points led the team in scoring, but Charles added 17 points and Whittenburg had 13. Lowe, despite his continued foul trouble, had 10 assists in the game, to go along with six points and six rebounds.

    Bailey admitted all the pre-game reminders of Green’s comments that he found taped to his locker were an inspiration.


    “What Sidney said made me play harder,” Bailey said. “When I get upset, I play harder.”


    But he has also completely bought in to the Wolfpack being a so-called team of destiny. With all that has happened in the last 14 days, who could blame him?


    “I’ve looked at the clock when we were behind so many times in the last few games and thought that I might have only a few minutes left in my college career,” Bailey said. “But we’ve been in that situation so often in the last five games and keep coming back that when we got 12 down today, I didn’t even think about it. What happens is you begin to believe you can pull it out again because you have done it so many times already.”


    And that’s why Destiny, for at least another week, marches on.


    You may contact Tim Peeler at





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