(4) Wake Forest 55

(26-4, 13-3 ACC)

NC State 53

(17-12, 7-9 ACC)

    8:00 PM ET, March 6, 2005

    PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

    1 2 T
    #4WAKE 35 2055
    NCST 27 2653

    Top Performers

    Wake Forest: J. Gray 15 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    NC State: I. Evtimov 19 Pts, 6 Reb, 2 Stl

    Wolfpack's NCAA hopes take a hit

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Chris Paul's first-half shot nearly overshadowed his last-second basket to beat North Carolina State.

    The sophomore hit a buzzer-beating runner to lift fourth-ranked Wake Forest past the North Carolina State 55-53 on Sunday night, keeping the Demon Deacons in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

    But Paul also faced plenty of questions afterward about his low blow to Wolfpack star Julius Hodge.

    Either way, the feisty point guard was the center of attention.

    Paul finished with nine points and six assists for the Demon Deacons (26-4, 13-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 10 of 11 and tied the school record for overall victories and conference wins.

    With the Wolfpack (17-12, 7-9) leading 53-50, Justin Gray nailed a 3 right in front of the Wake Forest bench with 12.8 seconds left. Engin Atsur tried to answer with a hurried 3-pointer that fell well short of the rim and out of bounds, giving the Demon Deacons the ball with 4.2 seconds left.

    Paul did the rest. He inbounded the ball to Vytas Danelius, who sent it right back. Paul then weaved through the retreating Wolfpack defenders, bounced off a bump from Atsur and launched a fadeaway shot from about 12 feet.

    The ball swished through the net at the horn, sending the Demon Deacons onto the court for a celebration -- and giving Paul the last word on a testy night in Raleigh.

    In a play that set the tone the rest of the night, Paul gave Hodge a harsh parting gift on senior night, hitting him with a low blow during a battle underneath the basket. Hodge, the reigning ACC player of the year, fell to the court with 12:48 left in the first half.

    With Hodge laying on the ground, his older brother, Steve, walked onto the court to see if Julius was OK -- and to yell toward Paul on the Wake Forest bench. Steve Hodge walked off the court, and arena security soon instructed him to leave the court area.

    Once Hodge got up, he angrily yelled and gestured toward the Demon Deacons' sideline on his way back to the bench.

    Paul said the two were just tangled up.

    "I don't believe I popped him," Paul said. "It was just the heat of the game. I've got too much respect for him to try to pop him on senior night."

    When told that replays showed him hitting Hodge, Paul responded, "I haven't seen the replay."

    The question is whether Paul will face any kind of sanction from the league for the blow. Hodge mentioned his suspension as a freshman for an elbow he threw against Maryland's Steve Blake, which was caught on film and led to a one-game suspension afterward.

    Wake Forest, which finished second in the league standings thanks to North Carolina's win against Duke earlier Sunday, plays Friday in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

    "He punched me in the groin and the ref saw it," Hodge said. "I got suspended for that (as a freshman). ... I never play dirty like that."

    Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said he didn't see the incident. N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said he had reviewed replays of the incident, but declined comment.

    "I think the replay is going to have to speak for me tonight," he said.

    A few minutes after returning to the game, Hodge was whistled for a technical foul when he gave Paul a shove after he was fouled him in the post.

    From there, Paul was booed loudly every time he touched the ball, and N.C. State fans began chanting "Dirty Deacons!"

    Wake Forest shot just 29 percent in the second half, going without a field goal for 10 minutes, but still pulled it out on big shots by Paul and Gray.

    And on the same day top-ranked Illinois, No. 3 Kentucky, No. 6 Duke and No. 7 Kansas all lost, the Demon Deacons saw an opportunity.

    "We thought that might've opened the door a little bit more (for a No. 1 seed) and gave us a chance right here to make a move

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 55 53
    FG Made-Attempted 20-53 (.377) 18-44 (.409)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-23 (.304) 8-21 (.381)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-14 (.571) 9-22 (.409)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (0/0) 17 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 11 4

    2004-05 Season

    Feb 10, 2005 @WAKE 86, NCST 75Recap
    » Mar 6, 2005 WAKE 55, @NCST 53Recap
    Mar 11, 2005 NCST 81, @WAKE 65Recap