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Tar Heels Making Last Appearance in Reynolds

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The hostility bar at Reynolds Coliseum will likely be raised another notch Saturday night when No. 9 North Carolina makes its final appearance against arch-rival N.C. State in the 50-year-old building.

The Tar Heels (14-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have a chance to even their all-time record at 29-29 in Reynolds and are seeking revenge following the Wolfpack's victory at the Smith Center last season, knocking North Carolina out of the No. 1 ranking.

North Carolina will also welcome back suspended forward Vasco Evtimov, adding even more spice to one of the nation's fiercest rivalries.

Then again, it always seems to be something with these two.

``It's just like when you're a baseball fan with places like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, some of the old parks are sure fun to go in to,'' North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge said when asked about playing in Reynolds for the final time.

Then Guthridge added some good-natured ribbing to construction crews working on N.C. State's new arena.

``I'm also not sure it's our last game there. Remember, we had several `last games' in Carmichael Auditorium'' before moving to the Smith Center in the 1980s, Guthridge joked. ``It all depends on the construction.''

The Wolfpack (11-5, 2-3) has a quick turnaround, having beaten Virginia 82-72 Thursday night. Herb Sendek said Friday his team worked mostly on its mental approach heading into the key ACC game.

Sendek wants his team focused on the Xs and Os, and not the happenings around them in Reynolds.

``We will focus on our preparation, we don't rely a whole lot on fire and brimstone,'' Sendek said. ``That's not to say that we discount the importance of emotion and energy. But in terms of what actually carries over in the course of 40 minutes, it's your habits and your preparation - not jumping up and down in the locker room, hitting your head on the ceiling because you're excited about the game.''

Sendek was then asked if North Carolina brings out the best in the Reynolds fans.

``There are several teams that bring out the best in our crowd,'' he said. ``I think (the fans) will be jumping. I hope our team will be jumping.''

Sendek said he's worried about North Carolina's frontline size and the steady play of point guard Ed Cota. Then there's the addition of the 6-foot-10, 225-pound Evtimov.

Evtimov, who has missed 18 games after being suspended by the NCAA for gaining an ``unfair competitive advantage'' while playing for a club team in France, will play in the first half, Guthridge said.

``I'm not sure how much, it just depends on the way things are going,'' Guthridge said. ``The thing that he has to concentrate on - and we all do - is patience. This is his first game and we're played 18 games and State has played 16, so a lot of players have game experience.''

``We're well aware of his talent and ability,'' Sendek said of Evtimov. ``Like so many of their players he was a McDonald's All-American, one of the most highly sought after players in the country. He is a big, strong, physical body, but he also has excellent skills.''

In other ACC action Saturday, No. 2 Duke hosts Florida State, while Wake Forest is at slumping Georgia Tech.

On Sunday, Clemson is at Virginia. No. 5 Maryland has the weekend off before hosting Georgia Tech on Tuesday night.

Duke (16-1, 5-0) will be gunning for its 12th straight victory and 32nd in a row at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Florida State is 3-1 in the league after winning at Georgia Tech and at home against Clemson, but the Seminoles (9-6) are 0-8 all-time in Cameron.

``We are a versatile team and hopefully we'll become more versatile,'' said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team leads the nation in scoring at 95.2 points a game and is first in the ACC in scoring margin (27.9), field goal percentage (52.2 percent), 3-point percentage (40.5 percent) and free throw percentage (74.1 percent).

``This league helps you become versatile because if you're not you're going to get beat. If you're not, it throws you off sometimes.''

Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets (10-6, 1-3) have lost three straight, while Wake Forest (11-5, 2-2) is coming off a 10-point home loss to Duke.

``When something like this happens you just have to go inside and you've got to dig to find out what's causing this,'' Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins said of his team's slump.