It was a mostly quiet Thursday across the country in college basketball without a single matchup between Top 25 teams, but it was not a night without drama.
Clemson lost in heartbreaking fashion, Arizona went dunk-crazy and Arizona State takes another loss, this one at home.
Here’s everything you need to know about Thursday night around the country:
1. CLEMSON A FREE THROW SHORT IN RALEIGH
Down five with under 10 seconds to go, Clemson looked like it was cooked. There was no way for the Tigers to make the final few ticks all that interesting against NC State. The Gabe DeVoe got a tip-in to pull within three. Then NC State turned the ball over. Then the Wolfpack fouled DeVoe as he was shooting a potential game-tying 3-pointer. So they made it crazy interest – and ultimately heartbreaking.
DeVoe went to the line and made the first two free throws before seeing the third and game-extending attempt spin out, giving NC State yet another big win and stopping a 10-game win streak for Brad Brownell’s group.
Just a gut-punch for DeVoe, who will likely be reliving that 15-foot toss the rest of his life, even though Clemson was only in position to tie it there largely thanks to his efforts. That probably won’t make sleeping any easier, though.
But how about the Wolfpack? NC State, picked to finish 12th in the ACC by the league’s coaches, is starting to put together a resume that the NCAA tournament selection committee may have to ponder. Kevin Keatts now has wins over Arizona, Duke and Clemson (plus Penn State) in his first year at the helm. Sure, the Wolfpack lost to Northern Iowa and UNC-Greensboro in the non-conference, but let’s consider more recent history.
NC State came back from an 11-point first-half deficit against the Blue Devils by scoring 1.28 points per possession (shoutout to going 23 of 25 from the charity stripe and Duke’s brutal defense), and followed that up with another win against a ranked opponent Thursday. That’s a nice little one-two punch. Yes, both games were at home. Yes, those non-conference struggles could easily haunt the Pack. Yes, maybe this is just a two-game blip. But NC State deserves a second look, at least until they head to Charlottesville on Sunday to face Virginia.
2. ARIZONA STATE SLIPPING
One of the early-season darlings of the sport is suddenly reeling. Eleventh-ranked Arizona State lost for the third time in four games Thursday with a 76-72 home loss to Oregon.
The Sun Devils are now 1-3 in Pac 12 play with Ls courtesy of Arizona, Colorado and the Ducks. The 12-0 start to the year has faded quickly into memory for coach Bobby Hurley.
Arizona State got 21 points from Kodi Justice, but Tra Holder was just 4 of 13 from the floor as the Sun Devils faltered. Oregon, which hasn’t beaten any team even worth mentioning all year until tonight, had four players score at least 13 points, led by 18 apiece from Elijah Brown and Payton Pritchard.
3. ARIZONA THROWS DOWN ON BEAVERS
Arizona really wasn’t impressive once again. Just a few days removed from that loss in Boulder to Colorado, the Wildcats struggled to put away Oregon State before prevailing late. That makes back-to-back lackluster performances that will keep questions about Sean Miller’s team relevant the further they get away from what looked like a potential turning point with that win against Arizona State last month.
Overall, pretty ‘Meh’ performance out of Arizona. But that ‘Meh’ wasn’t without its ‘Whoa’ moments, namely with Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins going bonkers on a pair of dunks.
So there’s that.