RALEIGH — Mark Gottfried provided the current N.C. State players with a history lesson Thursday.
Gottfried informed his team, with a message on the white dry-erase board at the team’s practice facility, that the Wolfpack hasn’t swept North Carolina since the 2002-03 season.
The Wolfpack has only won both regular-season games against the Tar Heels three times since David Thompson dominated the rivalry nearly 40 years ago.
Junior guard Lorenzo Brown, who was instrumental in the Wolfpack’s 91-83 win against UNC in Raleigh on Jan. 26, still wasn’t sure about all the particulars but he got the gist of Gottfried’s message.
“It was a long time ago,” said Brown, who had 20 points and 11 assists in the first meeting. “Hopefully we can do it again on Saturday.”
It was 10 years ago when Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek’s teams swept UNC, then under coach Matt Doherty, in both 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Roy Williams succeeded Doherty the following season and the Tar Heels haven’t lost to the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill since.
Even with the late January loss, Williams is 19-2 against N.C. State and 9-0 at the Smith Center. UNC had won 13 in a row before the eight-point loss at PNC Arena.
History has been on UNC’s side since the start of ACC play in 1953-54. In the 59 ACC seasons, N.C. State has swept the season series (tournament games included) six times (compared to 27 times for the Tar Heels).
The most unlikely Wolfpack sweep came during the 1991-92 season. N.C. State finished the conference schedule at 6-10, but had a pair of wins over UNC, which was ranked in the top 10 both times.
Forward Tom Gugliotta scored a career-best 36 points in State’s 99-88 win over UNC at Reynolds Coliseum. More than two decades later, Gugliotta can still remember details about the game.
“(UNC 7-footer) Kevin Salvadori was on me to start the game,” Gugliotta said Thursday. “He was a big, tall kid and he wasn’t comfortable away from the basket.”
Gugliotta, who finished with eight 3-pointers, started the game fast and never really slowed down.
“Reynolds felt like my backyard,” Gugliotta said. “That basket was twice as big as any other basket, I just had a comfort level there.”
Mark Davis, who was a freshman guard on that team, said he still remembers the noise at Reynolds.
“It was electric in there,” Davis said Thursday. “It was the loudest it ever it was.
“I was just an 18-year-old kid from Mississippi and I didn’t realize how big of a rivalry it was until that game.”
Davis played an integral role in the Wolfpack’s 99-94 win in Chapel Hill later that season. N.C. State had actually lost nine straight games after the first UNC win.
“I remember going into that game, we still felt confident,” Gugliotta said. “We just said, let’s just go out and play and see what happens.”
Davis had seven 3-pointers and 25 points in the win at Chapel Hill, Gugliotta added 24 and Kevin Thompson had 29 points.
While the 1991-92 sweep was unexpected, the Wolfpack wins in 2001-02 were anticipated. Thousands of N.C. State fans took over the upper deck of the Smith Center on Jan. 23, 2001.
UNC was in the process of hitting rock bottom under Doherty, an 8-20 nightmare of a season, and the N.C. State fans had come to dance at the funeral.
Cliff Crawford, a junior guard on the ’01-02 N.C. State team, remembers when the N.C. State fans finished the national anthem with “and the home of the Wolfpack.”
“When you were in the building, you could feel it,” Crawford said. “It was like we had no choice but to win. There was no way we were losing that game.”
Sendek’s sixth team broke through that night for a 77-59 win, ending a seven-game UNC winning streak. State won the rematch in Raleigh 98-76, which remains the Wolfpack’s most-lopsided win in the series since 1962.
The next season, Doherty added the core of the 2005 national title team, in point guard Raymond Felton and forward Sean May. The Wolfpack won the first game in Raleigh, 86-77, despite 28 points from Felton, which was offset by 30 from the Wolfpack’s Julius Hodge.
“Julius loved to fry them,” Crawford said. “He took those games very personally.”
Hodge had 21 points in the 75-67 win in Chapel Hill, but N.C. State needed overtime – and a 22-of-22 performance from the free-throw line – to pull off the sweep.
Ten years later, the detail Crawford remembers most is the number of N.C. State fans, and the amount of red, at the Smith Center.
“It’s never going to be like that again,” Crawford said.