Most of the time this would be a hard question: Where were you 15 years ago tonight?
According to the Special Collections Research Center at NCSU Libraries(the source for the scoreboard pic as well), this is a picture of the first basket (not sure if it is the first overall basket or State’s first basket).
The Wolfpack, coached by Herb Sendek, started Justin Gainey and Anthony Grundy in the backcourt and Damien Wilkins, Kenny Inge & Damon Thornton up front. Archie Miller, Cliff Crawford, Marshall Williams, Cornelius Williams & Ron Kelley came off the bench.
In typical NC State fashion, the game did not start well as Georgia scored the first 10 points and led by as many as 12 in the first half. At halftime Georgia led 38-31 as the Bulldogs shot 56.5% and the Pack only 39.3%. In the second half the Pack battled back and finally took the lead 55-53 on 2 Ron Kelley free throws. With the score tied at 63, Archie Miller hit a 3 pointer with 58 seconds left to seal the win. (Thanks to Tony Haynes’s gopack.com recap that is still online for these details that are hard to find and/or remember)
State had 4 players in double figures, Grundy with 13, Gainey with 12, Thornton with 11 and Inge with 10. Inge and Thornton led the team in rebounds with 7 and blocked shots with 2 each, while Grundy led the team in assists with 4 and steals with 7.
State would win their first 14 games in the new arena, going 17-3 at home that season. State’s record in the arena after the Hofstra win this season stands at 185-68 (.731).
Here are a few more bits of trivia from the game:
• Georgia’s Shaun Coleman scored the first basket in the arena, Damon Thornton had the first State basket
• Jim Harrick was coaching the Bulldogs that night, current head coach Mark Gottfried was an assistant under Harrick at UCLA and Harrick has been a mentor/consultant for Gottfried while in Raleigh.
• Damien Wilkins would transfer from NC State to Georgia, the same school where his uncle Dominique played.
• One of the 3 officials that night was none other than Karl Hess, who would later have a much more memorable performance in the same building.
• The Carolina Hurricanes opened the arena a few weeks earlier on October 29 in a 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. The first goal in the building was scored by Hurricane Andrei “The Russian Tank” Kovalenko.