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Richard Howell: 'My Ears Were About To Pop Out.'

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USA TODAY Sports

The atmosphere at PNC Arena has all too often been lacking at basketball games over the years. Part of that is simply the nature of the building, and the other part is that NC State simply hasn't been very good. On the occasions where the stakes are high, though, and the team delivers a good performance, the place can get as loud as any arena in the country. Richard Howell and the rest of the team got to experience that today:

"I definitely wanted to be a part of this -- this rivalry, mix it up a bit," the senior forward said. "It definitely took time to get here but patience pays off. It’s definitely working now. It was crazy. My ears were about to pop out."

I've probably experienced more raucous moments at hockey games than at State basketball games over the years, but I hope this is the start of a new trend. This is the sign of a program playing games that matter again. Games that have conference implications, games that can help a team looking forward to March and the NCAA tournament. Damn it's good to have these moments back.

It's just a different feeling now. Sidney Lowe delivered upsets of Duke and UNC at home, but they were ultimately hollow, because those Wolfpack teams weren't good enough to make the NCAAs, much less challenge for a conference title. Those also were upsets made by obviously overmatched teams. But it's not like that anymore.