CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- All Devin Gray can remember about last year's ACC tournament was he went 0-for-the-semifinal. The 6-foot-7 forward from Baltimore missed all 15 shots he attempted in Clemson's 69-61 loss to Georgia Tech.
The former St. Frances star made up for it last night, scoring 23 points, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking three shots in a 76-63 victory over ninth-seeded North Carolina State in this year's preliminary game.
The victory put the eighth-seeded Tigers (16-14) into today's second quarterfinal game against top-seeded Duke (22-4) and likely assured them of an NIT bid. The defeat ended the season for the Wolfpack, which finished 11-19.
"I wanted to put last year behind me," said Gray, who took 15 shots again, hitting 10 of them. "I just wanted to come out and help us win."
Now Gray will try to help Clemson pull off the first major upset in this year's tournament. Despite the disparity in seeds, it could be an interesting matchup. The Tigers lost to the Blue Devils during the regular season by only six at home and by four at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"We get hyped up to play Duke," said Gray, who scored 36 points in those two games, 22 in the last meeting. "And the ball seems to go in."
Bid at stake
In his 13th year at Georgia Tech, Bobby Cremins has become one of the most successful coaches in ACC tournament history. Since 1985, his Yellow Jackets have won three championships, including two of the past three, and once were runners-up.
In his fifth season at Wake Forest, Dave Odom has been one of the least successful coaches in the ACC tournament. His Demon Deacons, despite going twice to the NCAA tournament and reaching the Sweet 16 last season, never have won an ACC tournament game.
"Maybe I should call Bobby and ask him how they do it," Odom said earlier this week.
Cremins hopes to keep his run going, and Odom hopes to reverse his misfortunes, when sixth-seeded Georgia Tech (16-11) plays third-seeded Wake Forest (19-10) in the last quarterfinal tonight at the Charlotte Coliseum.
A victory for the Yellow Jackets would secure an at-large bid to theNCAA tournament that many believe they have already, and a win for the Demon Deacons would prevent Odom from tying Clemson coach Ellis' modern record for futility. Ellis lost his first five ACC tournament games before winning as the top seed in 1990.
Since 1985, Cremins is the only coach aside from Duke's Mike Krzyzewski to have won three titles, and the only coach of a non-North Carolina school to have won at least three ACC titles. North Carolina's Dean Smith has won 11, Everett Case won four at North Carolina State and Vic Bubas four at Duke.
The 800 club
Speaking of Smith, if his second-ranked Tar Heels advance to Sunday's final, that will mean the 63-year-old coach will have won his 800th career game. North Carolina's 24-6 regular-season record gave Smith 798 victories going into tonight's game at 7 against seventh-seeded Florida State.
"Nobody has really talked about it," said Smith, who either here or during the NCAA tournament probably will become the second Division I coach in history to win 800, following Adolph Rupp of Kentucky (876 in 41 seasons).
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect to the voting for the All-ACC teams -- aside from North Carolina State's Todd Fuller being named to the third team, and Maryland's Matt Kovarik getting a vote for the all-freshman team -- was Duke All-American Grant Hill not being named a unanimous choice.
One voter, whose identity has not been revealed, put Hill on the second team. Krzyzewski said: "That's what makes people interesting. But it's the responsibility of any voter to put their prejudices aside -- whether it's because of a school, or race or any other reason."
ACC MEN'S TOURNAMENT
Site: Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum
TV: Today's afternoon quarterfinals on Channel 45, night quarterfinals on Channel 54; semifinals and final on Channel 2.
Who's hot: North Carolina and Duke have each won four of their last five and seven of 10.
Who's not: North Carolina State has lost five of its past seven and Clemson has lost six of its past nine.
Who's in the NCAA tournament: Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Maryland
Who needs to win title to get in: North Carolina State, Clemson and Florida State
Who's on the bubble: Virginia and Georgia Tech
Players to stop: Grant Hill (Duke), Donald Williams (North Carolina), Randolph Childress (Wake Forest), Joe Smith (Maryland), Junior Burrough (Virginia), Travis Best (Georgia Tech), Bob Sura (Florida State), Sharone Wright (Clemson), Todd Fuller (North Carolina State)
Players to watch: Antonio Lang (Duke), Rasheed Wallace (North Carolina), Trelonnie Owens (Wake Forest), Keith Booth (Maryland), Harold Deane (Virginia), Martice Moore (Georgia Tech), Jeff Brown (Clemson), Lakista McCuller, (North Carolina State)
Notable achievements: North Carolina coach Dean Smith needs two wins to reach No. 800 for his career, becoming the only Division I coach aside from Kentucky's Adolph Rupp to do it.