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Remembering '74

Here is a great read from the Tampa Tribune: State Vs. Maryland Was Game For Ages

It was before Bird-Magic, before Jordan-Ewing. NCAA rules didn't permit dunking or provide 3-pointers, so there was nothing for ESPN. Just as well, since there wasn't ESPN.

"You can't explain the absurdity of only one of us going to the NCAA Tournament," Elmore said, "Or how we put up 203 points without a 3-pointer, without a dunk, with no shot clock. How do you explain this game?"

If then was now, Maryland, the loser that night, would, at worst, be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they lost everything. The Terrapins were 24-4 before that night. N.C. State was 25-1. Both had lost to seven-time defending national champion UCLA that season. Both wanted the Bruins again.

Len Elmore was a senior. So was the 6-foot-11 McMillen. And there was Lucas, the amazing sophomore point guard, and Mo Howard, a slick shooter from Philadelphia.

But always there was State. Six times in two seasons, North Carolina State beat Maryland in close games.

"They were always just a sliver better," Elmore said.

Thompson, Burleson and Towe were a sight, and not only because they went 57-1 across two seasons.

"I compare that team to a circus," Towe said. "We had the giant. We had the midget and we had the high-wire act. And you had the ringmaster in Coach Sloan."

There was the 7-2 Burleson, listed as 7-4 by N.C. State sports publicity for bad measure. The 5-7 Towe, a junior, answered to Midge for Midget. Everyone answered to Sloan, who shouted orders over his deafening plaid jackets. And floating above them all was David O'Neil Thompson of Shelby, N.C. The Skywalker.

"David Thompson was Michael Jordan's idol," Mo Howard said.

They can still see the three-time All-American catching an alley-oop from Towe, him and his 44-inch vertical leap, before gently dropping the ball into the cylinder as if lowering a baby's head onto a pillow, all for those no-fun fools at the NCAA.