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"I used my Knute Rockne speech No. 116 on Friday and it bombed out. Tonight I just told them, 'Let's go out and play basketball.' " So said North Carolina State's new coach, Jim Valvano, after the Big Four tournament. Valvano, who rattles off one-liners faster than his Wolfpack can score points, suffered through an 87-57 first-round wipeout by Wake Forest and then took third place by beating Duke 74-60. North Carolina, which warmed up for this affair by stopping Mercer 89-74, made it to the finals by edging Duke 78-76 on two late foul shots. In the title game, Wake Forest won 82-71 after having led by as many as 22 points. With MVP Frank Johnson scoring 24 points against the Tar Heels, the Deacons wrapped up the 11th and last All-North Carolina tournament by finishing first for the fourth time, more than any other team.
Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell's plan against Syracuse in the finals of the Carrier Classic was to "get the lead with man-to-man and then go zone." And that's precisely what the Terps did. The Orangemen, up by as many as eight points in the first half, fell behind 52-50 and then had their inside game bottled up by Maryland's zone. MVP Greg Manning of the Terps had 21 points in what turned out to be an 83-73 victory over Syracuse and 29 in a 96-73 win over Wagner.
Virginia, which for years had to scramble for its victories at William & Mary, this time won there with ease, 88-68. The Cavaliers attributed their runaway to the Indian fans, who fired them up with taunts. Ralph Sampson, the target of most of those barbs, attempted to silence his critics with a behind-the-back pass into their midst. Virginia also beat Randolph-Macon, 83-52, Sampson getting six dunks and 26 points, 19 in the first 10 minutes.
Bill Foster was the winning coach as Clemson won 82-69 at South Carolina. Bill Foster was also the losing coach in that game. Both had cause to believe they would win. The Gamecocks' Foster (William E.) felt his team might pull the game out because Zam Fredrick scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half and helped trim a 16-point deficit to four. Bill Foster of the Tigers (William C), though, wound up smiling because his players cashed in on 16 of 17 free throws in the final four minutes. Three days earlier Clemson's Foster had dislocated his left shoulder using a chain saw. By the time he arrived at that night's game against Samford, his Tigers, playing under the guidance of assistant Dwight Rainey, were well on their way to a 102-59 laugher.
South Alabama played four games, starting at home with a win over Wisconsin-Parkside 90-75 and then being shocked by Middle Tennessee State 80-79. Next it was on to the Worcester County National Classic, where the Jaguars got 27 points from Ed Rains while knocking off Assumption 77-66 and 24 points from Rory White while blowing out host Holy Cross 77-53 in the finale.
Georgetown's Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, who has predicted he will someday have a perfect shooting record in a game, almost did it during a 108-73 drubbing of St. Leo's. Floyd sank all 11 of his field-goal tries and two of three foul shots. Against Wheeling, which succumbed 94-58, Sleepy was again wide awake, putting in seven of 11 from the floor and six of seven free throws.
St. John's built a 23-16 lead over Princeton, but then had its inside game shut off by a collapsing zone. The patient Tigers, winless in their two previous outings, wound up handing the Redmen their first loss, 47-46.
At home and away, Frank Brickowski had a hot hand for Penn State. He scored 22 points as the Nittany Lions beat Southern Methodist 72-50 and hit on nine of 11 floor shots as they won 61-54 at Indiana State.