BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- First Duke, now North Carolina.
Dowdell scored 23 points and had four steals, Gordon added 17
points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals and the
ball-hawking Hokies likely ended North Carolina's stay at No. 1
after only a week with a stunning 94-88 victory Saturday.
It ended with some tension -- the Tar Heels cut a 22-point
deficit to 91-88 with 16.9 seconds left -- but then Dowdell made one
free throw, Gordon made two more and the final seconds ticked off,
bringing hundreds of frenzied fans rushing onto the court.
"They scared us at the end," Gordon said. "They were hitting
shots like the Phoenix Suns. They're No. 1 for a reason, but
tonight, it was our night."
The Hokies (13-4, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) joined Boston
College (12-4, 4-0), which won earlier, as the only teams still
unbeaten in ACC play.
And they did it not only because of their guard play, but also
because of Coleman Collins, who had 12 points and frustrated Tyler
Hansbrough inside; because of A.D. Vassallo, who scored 17 off the
bench; and because of Nigel Munson, who scored 10.
There were also key moments for Deron Washington, Cheick Diakite
and Lewis Witcher, who all got in foul trouble but combined for 12
points and helped the Hokies slow down the Tar Heels inside game,
and former walk-on Chris Tucker, who hit a 3-pointer.
"That's kind of the pleasure of coaching," Hokies coach Seth
Greenberg said of seeing guys who work hard and don't always get to
play get in and make contributions.
"It was great," Vassallo said, "guys coming in and giving us
a big lift."
Turned out, they needed it all as the Tar Heels went from
trailing by 20 with six minutes left to getting within three and
silencing the crowd with 16.9 seconds to go.
But then Dowdell hit one of two free throws, Gordon got fouled
at the other end and hit two more and the Hokies had their
second-ever victory against a team ranked No. 1.
"They've had two pretty big wins the last two Saturdays, to say
the least," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "It's a different
ballgame now in this league."
The Hokies, who came in leading the ACC by a wide margin in
averaging 9.5 fewer turnovers than their opponents, turned 17
turnovers into 20 points against the Heels.
"In the ACC, it doesn't matter who it is or where it is, you
always have to play hard," said Hansbrough, who finished with 19
hard-earned points and 15 rebounds.
"I think at times we had some let-downs that hurt us."
North Carolina (15-2, 2-1) got to see what Duke learned a week
ago when the Hokies won 69-67 in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium
-- these Hokies will take the ball away from you, not make many
mistakes and force teams to play smart or risk disappointment.
And this time, they did it with a crowd on their side and in
"If you don't get jacked up for Carolina and Duke, you need to
quit and go be a ballerina or something," Gordon said. "We came
out hard. No reason to be scared."
Not even an early 17-9 lead for the Tar Heels was cause for
Greenberg called a time out even though the next dead ball would
have brought an officials' time out, and whatever he said in the
huddle registered, and fast.
Beginning with two free throws by Collins, the Hokies
went on a 21-4 run over the next 8:15, holding the Tar Heels
without a point for 5½ minutes as the crowd at Cassell Coliseum
showed its delirium with ear-piercing screaming and whistling.
Leading 30-21, the Hokies saw North Carolina close to within
four, but then the Hokies scored seven straight late in the half
and led 47-37 at halftime.
The stage was set for the deeper Tar Heels to assert themselves
after halftime, but as if to show they weren't in over their heads,
the Hokies scored 19 of the first 26 points after halftime, opening
a 66-44 lead with 12 minutes left, and then hung on.
"We don't want anything but tears of joy in this locker room,"
Williams, who started with freshmen Wayne Ellington and Ty
Lawson it the backcourt, said it might be true that that Hokies
guard tandem simply showed its experience advantage in the game,
but added: "that would be simplifying it too much."
Instead, he hopes his guys learned something with more
conference play ahead.
"I hope it was a big eye-opener," he said. "We'll find out."
The Tar Heels' next game is at Clemson, which suffered it's
first lost Saturday.