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    New Orleans knocks off No. 21 Men's Hoops, 65-63
     
     

    Updated: 11:18 p.m., 11/18/2007, to add quotes, stats.

    BY TIM PEELER

    RALEIGH, N.C. As they thought about it in the post-game lockerroom, NC State’s players and head coach Sidney Lowe knew it wasn’t the 3-point shot that New Orleans junior T.J. Worley banked in with 1.7 seconds to play that beat the No. 21 ranked Wolfpack Sunday night at the RBC Center.

    They knew it wasn’t the intentional foul called on junior Courtney Fells that turned into a four-point play with less than a minute to go that did them in.

    It was the Wolfpack's own lack of purpose and defensive ability that allowed the Privateers (2-0) to come back from an 11-point second-half deficit and upset the home-standing Wolfpack, 65-63, in front of 13,072 spectators.

    “We didn’t come out and play the way we felt we were capable,” said Lowe, whose team committed 14 turnovers, was out-rebounded 41-37 and shot poorly from the field in the second half. “I don’t want to take anything away from New Orleans. They made the hustle plays.

    “But I think tonight was more about our mental toughness we just didn’t have it. We talked about stopping what they wanted to do, and we weren’t able to stay in front of them and stop their drives.”

    With 15:36 remaining in the game, the Wolfpack led 41-30. Over the next five minutes, thanks to scoring by Worley and other slashers on the Privateer roster, New Orleans fought back to grab the lead, 44-43, on a Shaun Reynolds jumper.

    The Wolfpack seemed to regain momentum with three consecutive three-point possessions, a 3-pointer by senior Gavin Grant and back-to-back three-point plays by Grant and sophomore point guard Farnold Degand, giving the Wolfpack a 52-46 lead with seven minutes to play.

    But the Privateers stayed within striking distance. With less than a minute to play, Fells grabbed New Orleans senior Bo McCalebb as he drove for a basket and was called for an intentional foul. McCalebb, his school’s all-time leading scorer, sank both free throws, and Kyndall Dykes scored on a layup to finish off the four-point possession and cut State’s lead to 61-60 with 44 seconds remaining.

    McCalebb, fouled by Grant while going for a loose-ball rebound, sank a pair of free throws to give his team a lead with 14 seconds to play, giving him a team-high 20 points for the game. Grant immediately answered with a driving layup that fell through the basket with seven seconds to play.

    The Privateers in-bounded the ball quickly and Worley took a wild shot at the top of the key over three Wolfpack defenders. The ball banked off the back-board and fell through with 1.7 seconds to play.

    "I can't believe he banked that ball in," Grant said.

    The Wolfpack called two timeouts to set up a final play, but the inbounds pass three-quarters of the length of the floor was slapped out of J.J. Hickson’s hands and the game ended.

    “I don’t want to say we took them lightly, because I don’t think we did,” said Grant, who scored 20 points in the contest on seven of eight shooting. “But the game shouldn’t have come down to those last couple of seconds and we are paying for it now. We talked about, before the game, how these [mid-major] teams are upsetting teams all across the country and we didn’t want it to happen to us. But it did.”

    Freshman J.J. Hickson, who scored a game-high 22 points with his 10-for-18 shooting night and posted his first career double-double with 13 rebounds, were the Wolfpack’s only two players in double figures. Fells, sophomore Brandon Costner and junior Ben McCauley three starters from last season with Grant combined to shoot 4-for-13 from the field and scored 10 points between them.

    “Tonight, I thought we were a little selfish at times,” Lowe said.

    The Wolfpack spends the next three-and-a-half weeks on the road or taking fall semester exams. After playing three games later this week in Orlando in the Old Spice Challenge,

    “I want to see if we grow and take this [loss] and use it,” Lowe said. “It told the team that I hope they really hurt right now, because I don’t want them to ever have that feeling again. This can be a motivating thing.

    “Hopefully, we will learn from this and go to Orlando and play well.”

    Lowe takes his team to East Lansing, Mich., to play Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28. The Wolfpack takes 10 days off before playing at East Carolina on Dec. 8. It next plays at the RBC Center on Dec. 15 against South Carolina State.

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


     

     

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