The Good Times
gogoraleigh's list of the best moments in RBC Center history got me thinking about the best Wolfpack moments in the new arena. Here are a few:
NC State 67, Georgia 63 (11/19/99) [recap]
It's difficult to remember or imagine now, nearly ten years later (good god), but man, that was an exciting time to be a Wolfpack basketball fan. Especially so for 16-year-old me, as I had little to no recollection of State hoops prior to the Sendek era. Here, finally, with a brand new arena and future superstud (surely!) Damien Wilkins suiting up for the first time, we were turning the corner. My dad went so far as to suggest we'd have a top ten program by the time I enrolled a couple years later. I couldn't fathom that. (And unfortunately, I still can't. New plan: top ten by the time I'm 40. Plan to be revised as necessary.)
Neither Wilkins nor the team had an impressive debut (I believe it was the first time Wilkins showcased his dribble-off-the-shin move to the basket), but both of those omens were forgotten when Archie Miller drained a three from the corner with less than a minute to go to give NC State the lead for good.
NC State 98, North Carolina 76 (2/24/02) [recap/box]
(Yes, the student tickets were green for some reason. And sometimes yellow.)
Pts Poss Off_Eff eFG% TO% OR% FTR
UNC 76 75.8 100.3 52.6 18.5 18.2 36.2
NCSU 98 75.8 129.3 56.7 10.6 28.6 61.7
The Pack had already dispatched the Heels with ease in Chapel Hill, so I doubt many folks expected them to give us any trouble in Raleigh. Yep, just another day of entertainment and sports. Says so right in the name. But Carolina had other ideas; namely, to not be terrible at doing basketball-type things. They were surprisingly sharp in that first half and used some hot shooting to build a 10-point halftime lead. I don't remember feeling a sense of dread at that point--just shock.
While I was still trying to figure out what the hell happened, State went on a 20-5 run to start the second half. The scoring went back and forth for a while, and UNC actually held a 68-66 lead with about eight and a half minutes to go. Those last eight minutes, though... I've never seen anything like it. They put Carolina away by scoring on eight consective possessions, ultimately burying the Heels under a 32-point onslaught. The final tally: 98 points, 62 of which came in the second half, and a deceptively comfortable-looking margin of victory. En route to those 62 second-half points, the Wolfpack shot 69% (eFG) from the field and made 22 of 26 (84.6%) free throw attempts. Unreal.
NC State 80, Duke 71 (1/22/03) [recap/box]
Like most Wolfpack fans, I'm not one to tempt fate, because if I've learned one thing over the years, it's not to give that cruel bastard an opening. What's that? Is that hope you got there, son? WELL HERE'S A FUCKING BIZARRE PALMING CALL ON JUSTIN GAINEY JUST FOR YOU. I CAN DO THIS SHIT ALL CENTURY. NOW GET THEE BACK TO SULKSVILLE.
With the good guys in control late, victory looked like a pretty safe bet, and it was clear that a court-storming was in order. It was my first chance to do it and I didn't know if I'd ever get another opportunity, so I left my upper deck seat early, made my way to one of the lower level section entrances, and waited. I was probably one of the last students to make it onto the court once the buzzer sounded, but that didn't matter.
Clifford Crawford had endured more than half of North Carolina State's 13-game losing streak against No. 3 Duke, so the senior wasn't about to let go of the game ball in the locker room.
Crawford scored 21 points and Julius Hodge added 18 as the Wolfpack snapped its five-year skid against the Blue Devils with an 80-71 victory Wednesday night.
"I am just going to keep this with me," Crawford said as he hugged the ball. "I might even sleep with this tonight."
NC State 73, Wake Forest 68 (2/4/04) [recap/box]
Wake led by as many as 18 points in the first half, 16 at the break. But they went cold in the second and the Pack slowly got back into the game, eventually tying it with about five minutes to go. This was one of those times where the outcome never felt like it was in doubt, despite the fact that it appeared very much so, what with the score being tied and all that. When Marcus Melvin fired up a three that would give them a four-point lead with 30 seconds to go, my only thought was of course this is going in. That's the kind of foreign sensation you don't forget. Usually it's the other team doing the shooting when I have that thought.
That was probably the most fun I've ever had at a basketball game. We celebrated at Reynolds for hours afterward.