The Norman Transcript

National Sports

January 14, 2014

Tobacco Road schools off to stumbling start in ACC competition

RALEIGH, N.C. — Looks as if there’s a dead end on Tobacco Road.

Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest entered the week a combined 3-9 in Atlantic Coast Conference play after losing on the same day for perhaps the first time in the storied history of this hoops hotbed.

The Tar Heels (10-6, 0-3) have last place all to themselves.

The Blue Devils, Wolfpack and Demon Deacons (each 1-2 in the ACC) are part of an eight-team tie for next-to-last.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Monday that his team and Duke in particular “really have been pretty doggone good and have stood the test of time.”

He wonders if “this is a bad year or a bad month or a bad week or two bad games. Who knows?”

Preseason favorite Duke tumbled from No. 7 to No. 23 in two weeks after its worst start to ACC play since 2006-07.

A 13-point loss at Clemson last week prompted Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski to say “we’re not a good team right now.”

N.C. State’s 31-point loss to Virginia marked its worst loss in the 15-year history of PNC Arena.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest has dropped both of its conference road games by at least 15 points apiece and is 1-26 under fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik on the road in ACC play.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried was talking specifically about his team Monday, but he could have been discussing the rest of his instate rivals when he said “we had a difficult day. We’ve got to get ourselves back up.”

Part of the problem for each school has been inexperience.

The only Duke starter who was in the program as recently as 2011-12 is point guard Quinn Cook. N.C. State has only three players back from last season.

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