About 24 hours after Duke joined North Carolina atop the Atlantic Coast Conference, Wake Forest made it a three-way tie.
Did anyone notice?
"I know a lot of attention goes to Duke and North Carolina," Demon Deacon Coach Skip Prosser said. "We're like those guys chasing Butch and Sundance. They know who we are. They know we aren't going anywhere."
Justin Gray scored 18 points, and No. 6 Wake Forest held off North Carolina State, 86-75, Thursday night at Winston-Salem, N.C., to win for the fifth time in six games.
Sixth-man Taron Downey was four for four on three-point attempts and finished with 14 points to help the Demon Deacons, 20-3 overall and 8-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, stop a pair of rallies in the second half.
Star guard Chris Paul had 13 points, eight assists and five steals.
"I did find my groove out there," Downey said. "Every good shooter wants to shoot that second one after he makes one, and after I made that second one, I had to shoot the third."
The Wolfpack (13-10, 3-7) had won three straight against their oldest rival, but not even Julius Hodge could stop their slide toward the NIT.
Benched for showing up late for a team function -- the second time this season that has happened -- the reigning ACC player of the year made his first 10 shots and scored 27 points.
"They're a heck of a basketball team," Wolfpack Coach Herb Sendek said. "Offensively, I don't see any component they don't have. And they don't let you off the hook when you foul them."
N.C. State is going in the opposite direction. After reaching No. 12 in the Associated Press poll in December, the Wolfpack has lost four of five.
No. 21 Cincinnati 65, Xavier 54 -- Eric Hicks and Jason Maxiell dominated the Musketeers' depleted front line, leading the Bearcats (18-5) in Cincinnati's annual crosstown grudge match.
The Bearcats used their biggest advantage -- the one upfront -- while pulling away to only their third victory in the last nine games against the Musketeers (11-9), who often used a zone defense but had neither the size nor the experience to pull off the upset.
Three of Xavier's post players are hurt, including leading scorer and rebounder Brian Thornton.
The Bearcats led by only six at halftime, then turned up the intensity with their man-to-man defense. Xavier went without a basket for the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second half.
Cincinnati's defense holds opponents to 36.2% shooting from the field, a figure that leads the nation.
Texas El Paso 93, Fresno State 80 -- The Miners (19-5, 9-3 Western Athletic Conference) have not lost a conference game at home since Jan. 3, 2004. They improved to 13-1 at home this season and 29-2 over the past two seasons. They scored 30 points off 18 turnovers by the Bulldogs (13-8, 7-5).
College of Charleston 66, The Citadel 63 -- The Cougars (15-7, 8-4 Southern Conference) used a 21-2 run with 4:40 left at Charleston, S.C., to come from 16 points behind and beat the Bulldogs (12-10, 4-8).