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.
And Wake Forest has been in perpetual rebuilding mode since Bzdelik took over in 2010, with only one fourth-year scholarship senior on the roster for the second straight year.
''Even Duke - they've got young players,'' Gottfried said. ''People forget that (phenom Jabari) Parker's a freshman and those type of things. I'm watching North Carolina and they're playing young guys. We're playing young guys. So sometimes you can be very high and very low.''
No team has shown more inconsistency than North Carolina - which has wins over three top-10-at-the-time teams in Kentucky, Louisville and Michigan State, and losses to Belmont, UAB and every ACC team they've played so far.
The Tar Heels also have been dealing with NCAA distractions, announcing last month that they won't pursue reinstatement for leading scorer P.J. Hairston after his rules violations included using rental vehicles tied to a felon and party promoter in Durham.
Guard Leslie McDonald missed the first nine games for receiving improper benefits and North Carolina has lost four of its seven games since his return.
The stat sheet points out obvious holes for each team.
No ACC team shoots better or scores more than Duke - but the Blue Devils simply haven't been able to defend, ranking 13th in scoring defense and 14th in field goal percentage defense.
''We're a very young team and we get predicted to do something based on me being old,'' the 67-year-old Krzyzewski said after the Clemson loss. ''That's the way it is. And we have to measure up to something we probably weren't good enough to do to begin with.''
North Carolina is the ACC's top offensive rebounding team - but the Tar Heels, the league's worst team from the free-throw line, are 14th in rebounding defense and have lost five games by six or fewer points.
''We just need to get better in so many different areas,'' Williams said. ''You're not going to just get your teeth cleaned. You're going to go get some work done on every tooth.''
N.C. State ranks 14th in 3-point shooting and 13th in rebounding margin. Wake Forest is 14th in free-throw shooting, 12th in defending the 3-point line and last in rebounding defense.
And everything came together last Saturday in a decidedly imperfect storm.
At the same time North Carolina lost by 12 at Syracuse, Wake Forest fell by 15 points at Pittsburgh. Clemson used a strong second half to beat Duke 72-59 and the Wolfpack made it 0-for-4 on Tobacco Road with its 76-45 loss to Virginia.
Another instance of the four schools losing on the same day couldn't be found. Wake Forest's media guide doesn't list complete dates of games played before the 1950-51 season and N.C. State's doesn't before 1946-47.
If nothing else, all four won't lose on any day this week - because they're going to play each other.
N.C. State visits Wake Forest on Wednesday night and plays at Duke on Saturday.
''There's a lot of success with these programs, and it's stood the test of time,'' Williams said. ''So my first inclination would be to say, `Let's not bury us yet.'''
RALEIGH, N.C. —
Looks as if there's a dead end on Tobacco Road.
‘Team behind the Team’
For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.
Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2
The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.
MLB: Rangers struggle in 9-3 loss to A's
A rough month didn't get any better for Texas on Sunday night, even though the game-time temperature of 100 degrees would have seemed to be in the Rangers' favor against Oakland.
However, they trailed 5-0 in the second inning en route to a 9-3 loss to the Athletics. Texas has lost 15 of its last 18 and dropped to 4-19 in July.
Lost Red Sox title ring returned by Yankees fan
A lost Red Sox World Series ring is back on the finger of its owner, thanks to a nifty pickup by an ardent New York Yankees fan.
Manhattan restaurant owner Luigi Militello could hardly believe it when he found the shiny 2013 championship ring on a restroom sink at his Luke's Bar and Grill on Thursday night.
MLB: First-place Dodgers complete sweep of Giants
Manager Don Mattingly hardly considers a late-July sweep in San Francisco a turning point to put his Dodgers in the driver's seat atop the NL West.
Yet coming off consecutive series losses at St. Louis and Pittsburgh, Los Angeles needed some sort of spark as August approaches. The Dodgers found it in the ballpark of their biggest rival, and left the Bay Area in first place following an emphatic three-game swing.
Carl Crawford hit an RBI triple to back Hyun-Jin Ryu's third straight victory, and division-leading Los Angeles beat the Giants 4-3 Sunday night to establish some momentum behind their pitching and offense.
NBA: Lakers set on hiring Byron Scott for new coach
The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they're apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days.
Scott said this weekend that he has been hired by the Lakers, but the club insisted Sunday that no deal has been reached.
NASCAR: Jeff Gordon claims fifth Brickyard 400 title
With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.
Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.
MLB: Thomas, Torre highlight HOF class
Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.
Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.
Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.
Blackmon a 'big deal' for the wrong reasons
The sports world is littered with gifted athletes whose self-destructive tendencies derailed what should have been promising careers. Ex-Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon appears to be on that well-worn path with his latest arrest.
BASEBALL: Three Rivers Bandits notch 8th-straight win
The Three Rivers Bandits seem to be getting hot when they need to be, heading into next week’s state tournament.
The Bartlesville Indians were victims of the heat as the Bandits swept a doubleheader from them, 2-0 and then 9-2, on Saturday at Connors State College for their eighth straight win.
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