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WWAY's Sunday night sports - Nov. 25

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RALEIGH, NC (NC State) -– Coach Tom O’Brien, who has overseen the Wolfpack football program for six years, has been relieved of his duties at NC State, Director of Athletics Deborah A. Yow announced today.

She will meet with the media at 5 p.m. today (Sunday, Nov. 25) on the Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Club level of the C. Richard Vaughn Towers at Carter-Finley Stadium.

"Coach O’Brien’s service to NC State over the last six years has been sincerely appreciated by Wolfpack Nation,” stated Yow. “We especially appreciate his attention toward NCAA rules compliance, a value that will continue to be held by NC State. We wish him well in future pursuits.”

O’Brien compiled a 22-26 ACC record and was 11-19 against ACC Atlantic Division opponents (1-14 on the road and 9-5 at home).

Against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, O’Brien’s Wolfpack was 32-35.

His overall record in six years was 40-35, which included eight wins against Football Championship Series (FCS) opponents. Among the six seasons, there was one winning ACC record, 5-3, in 2010 and a final national ranking at #25 the same year.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have coached at North Carolina State University and I feel that the program is in a better place now than when I started,” said O’Brien. “I’m proud of the young men that I have coached here, for their accomplishments on the field and in the classroom. Wolfpack football is as sound academically as it’s ever been with a [single year] APR of 990 to be reported this spring. I appreciate all of my coaches and wish them the best and I look forward to life after football.”

Coach Dana Bible, Offensive Coordinator, will serve as interim head coach for the upcoming bowl game. All assistants have been retained to continue bowl preparations and will have the opportunity to pursue positions with the new head coach.

A national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) -- Senior forward Keith Rendleman’s 23 points and 15 rebounds helped push UNCW past Hampton, 61-60, to win the Wilmington Division of the Nations of Coaches Classic at Trask Coliseum Sunday afternoon.

The Seahawks, who remained perfect at home with a 3-0 mark, evened their record at 3-3. The Pirates (0-5) dropped their fifth straight game and remain winless on the year after surrendering a slim one-point lead with 1:37 remaining in the game.

UNCW was led offensively by Rendleman’s double-double, the 24th of his career and second of the season. Sophomore guard Freddie Jackson came through late as he contributed seven of his 12 points in the second half.
The Pirates followed the lead of senior center David Bruce who totaled 13 points before fouling out in the second half. They also had a huge contribution from their bench, who outscored the Seahawks bench, 23-9.
In the first meeting between the two programs since the 1973-74 season, Hampton maintained a slight advantage before a layup by UNCW’s sophomore guard Freddie Jackson and two free throws from Rendleman at the 12-minute mark gave the Seahawks their first lead of the second half at 43-42.

The Pirates continued to battle back as senior guard Jasper Williams drained his third three-pointer of the game to extend their lead to 49-45 with 8:16 remaining in the game. The Seahawks gave one last push as junior forward Shane Reybold put in his only basket of the game and Jackson added a fast break layup to give the Seahawks one last lead at 61-60 and 62 seconds on the clock. This would be the eighth and final lead change as the Seahawk defense would dig in and not allow the Pirates to get off a shot before the buzzer sounded.
In the opening half, behind transition baskets by Jackson and Rendleman, the Seahawks bolted out to a 5-0 lead just 1:53 into the contest. That lead would grow to 10-4 following a three-pointer by Chris Dixon at the 16-minute mark. That triple would be the last field goal for the Seahawks as Hampton fashioned a 10-0 run over the next 7:14 to take a 17-10 lead on a jumper by David Bruce, who finished with a team-high 13 points off the bench.

UNCW climbed back into the game and drew even at 22-all on a three-pointer from Jackson, but HU would score seven of the final 10 points of the half and carry a 29-25 lead into the intermission of a buzzer-beating three by Ramon Mercado.

GAME NOTES: This was only the fourth meeting all-time between UNCW and Hampton … The Seahawks won the last meeting between these two teams 86-76 back in the 1973-74 season … UNCW now holds a 3-1 record against Hampton … The Seahawks used their fifth starting lineup in six games this year … Rendleman extended his streak of scoring in double figures to 18 games (longest active in CAA) … UNCW set season-highs in Free Throws made (21) and attempted (39) … The game featured five ties and eight lead changes.

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GREENSBORO, NC (ACC) -– North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper has been awarded the 2012 Jacobs Blocking Trophy, Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford announced Sunday. In doing so, Cooper, becomes the first North Carolina player to receive the Jacobs Trophy since 1988.

The Jacobs Blocking Trophy has been awarded annually since 1953 to the player voted the most outstanding blocker in the ACC by a poll of the league’s head coaches and defensive coordinators. The trophy is given in memory of William P. Jacobs, who served as president of Presbyterian College from 1935 to 1945. The trophy will be presented at the ACC’s Night of Legends event which will be held this Friday (6 pm) at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of festivities held around the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.

Cooper, a 6-3, 295-pound senior from Wilmington, N.C., was the runaway winner with a total of 29 points far outdistancing Clemson senior center Dalton Freeman (8) and North Carolina junior tackle James Hurst (6) to capture the 59th ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy. No trophy was given in 1996. In all, 13 different ACC offensive linemen received votes in the balloting, but Cooper was named as the top choice on all but two ballots.

A four-year starter for North Carolina at guard and 2nd-team All-ACC selection in 2010 and 2011, Cooper last week became the first Tar Heel to be named a finalist for the prestigious Outland Trophy. He set a school record for games started yesterday when he started against Maryland, his 47th career start. Cooper has twice been honored as the ACC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week this year for his play against Miami (Oct. 13) and NC State (Oct. 27). This year he has averaged a 90 percent grade and posted 10 or more knockdown blocks in nine of 12 contests.

"This is a tremendous honor for Jonathan,” said North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora. “Coop is a tremendous player. He’s very athletic, he moves his feet like a tight end and can be dominant at the point of attack. I told our coaching staff that we should be happy we were able to coach him for one year because you might not ever see another player like him. He’s that special.

“I’ve learned from him this year and our team has benefitted from his leadership and service. As good a player as he is on the field, he’s even a better person off the field.”

Cooper helped lead a North Carolina offensive line which paved the way for an offense to be ranked 11th nationally scoring offense, averaging a school-best 40.6 points per game. UNC also ranks 17th nationally in total offense, averaging 485.6 yards a game, the best in school history.

He becomes the eighth North Carolina player to be named a recipient of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, but the first in 24 years since former Tar Heel center Jeff Garnica captured the 1988 Trophy. Other UNC winners include Ron Wooten (1980), Ken Huff (1974), Ron Rusnak (1972), Geoff Hamlin (1971), Eddie Kesler (1964) and Jim LeCompte (1961).

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