Another meeting between two longtime rivals is in the books, and yet again N.C. State fans are unsatisfied with the result.
UNC-Chapel Hill effectively ended any chance of the Wolfpack grabbing an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with an 85-84 overtime win in Raleigh Wednesday night. UNC sophomore point guard Marcus Paige made a layup with 0.9 seconds left, breaking the hearts of the 19,500 State fans that packed PNC Arena hoping to see the Pack topple its archrival.
Sophomore forward T.J. Warren played his heart out, scoring a career-high 36 points. If there’s a better candidate out there for ACC Player of the Year, I’ll eat my own underwear without salt or pepper.
Junior guard Ralston Turner added 16 points, including a huge 3-pointer with 48 seconds left to answer a three from Paige at the other end. But when two players score well over half of your team’s points, your team has issues, period.
State brought its best. Carolina brought its best. The Heels were simply a little bit better. That’s the long and short of it. It was a great college basketball game, and anyone who thinks otherwise should just quit watching basketball altogether.
As usual, Wolfpack students and fans took to social media blaming the officiating for the loss. They didn’t blame costly turnover deep in overtime that allowed the Tar Heels to tie the game. There was no mention of a missed free throw with 7.7 seconds left. Pack fans also conveniently forgot how State’s defense rolled out the red carpet for Paige, allowing the sophomore to waltz straight to the basket for the game-winning score. Michael Jackson could’ve done the moonwalk down that lane and scored with no trouble. By the time Warren came over to valiantly contest the shot, it was too late.
According to Wolfpack fans, it was clearly the officiating that caused N.C. State to lose to its biggest rival for the 22nd time in 24 meetings, just like it always is when State loses to a team wearing blue. Frankly, it’s embarrassing to see our fans spew stuff like that on the Internet.
Here’s some news for you, Wolfpack Nation: When you’ve only beaten a team twice in 10 years, it’s not the refs’ fault.
And for State fans to be throwing debris on the court at the end of the game is simply unacceptable. For as much as we brag about being great fans, we sure don’t act like it.
Such a scene would never happen at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It would never happen at the Dean Smith Center. It would never happen at probably 99 percent of sports venues.
Good fans don’t act like kindergartners when their team loses. Good fans don’t consistently point fingers at officials when things don’t go their way.
And good teams find ways to win. The Wolfpack has been on the wrong end of too many close games this season. That isn’t to say State is a bad team, because if it was, the Pack would have a lot fewer than 17 wins this season.
But the writing was on the wall when North Carolina Central came into PNC and beat the Wolfpack back in November. It was on the wall when the Pack traveled to cellar-dweller Wake Forest Jan. 15 and lost on a last-second layup. This just isn’t a tournament team, folks, and State has a very long way to go before it can call itself equals on the basketball court with its fellow Tobacco Road schools.
That’s likely not what State fans want to hear, but that’s reality. It’s about time this fan base has a dose of reality anyway-- they’ve been out of touch with it for far too long .