NOTES: Huge Game For State

NC State hosts Miami today in the PNC Arena in a huge conference game for the Wolfpack.

Mark Gottfried has brought a fast-paced, high energy offense to NC State as evidenced by the team's scoring numbers. The Wolfpack currently ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and is tied for 10th nationally in scoring with 78.6 points per game.

The Pack's offensive production has improved dramatically since Gottfried took over the program prior to last season. In 2010-11, the campaign prior to his arrival, State ranked 115th nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring with 70.7 point per game. Last year, his first season with the Wolfpack, the average was up slightly to 72.9 points per game - the nation's 59th-best mark at season's end.

The NC State single season record for points per game is 92.9, set in 1973. However, the Pack's current mark would rank as the highest in over 15 years (81.2 in 1996) if the season ended today. State has already scored at least 80 points in 12 contests this season - the highest total for a Wolfpack squad since 2005-06 (13).

Mark Gottfried is bringing top-level talent to Raleigh, as both of his recruiting classes have been ranked in the top-10 nationally. Last year, having just seven months till the fall signing period, Gottfried brought in the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation, including three McDonald's All-Americans.

It marked the first time the Wolfpack had three McDonald's All-Americans in the same class since 1979. Gottfried followed up with three more recruits signed in November and that class currently ranks ninth nationally.

Gottfried came to NC State with the reputation of being a first-class recruiter. In three of his final four seasons at Alabama, Gottfried's recruiting classes were nationally ranked: 10th in 2005, 27th in 2007, and 16th in 2008.

NC State has faced Miami fewer times than any other current member of the ACC - just a dozen times. The two teams met for the first time in 1940 and the other eight meetings have all come since the Hurricanes joined the league in 2004-05.

The Wolfpack has won four in a row in the series and all four games in the PNC Arena. Miami is the only league opponent to have never won on NC State's home court.

One streak will come to an end in the battle of ranked opponents, when NC State hosts Miami at PNC Arena on Saturday.

NC State posts a perfect 4-0 record in home ACC games this season, while Miami is 4-0 in road conference action. The Pack sits tied atop the conference with three other teams that have already recorded four home conference wins, while Miami has four of the ACC's 12 total road victories so far in 2012-13.

Both squads have improved in these categories from a year ago, as NC State was 4-4 in home ACC action under first-year head coach Mark Gottfried and Miami was 3-5 in road ACC action in Jim Larranaga's first season last year.

Another streak that will end on one side or another is that the Wolfpack has won all 12 of its home games in 2012-13 and Miami has won eight games in a row.

NC State swept the two meetings with Miami last season - victories which could have been the deciding factor in which team earned an NCAA Tournament berth and which one received an NIT bid. The Wolfpack win also gave State the tiebreaker with Miami for final seeding in the ACC Tournament.

In the first meeting, NC State made a January, 22 trip to Miami to face the ‘Canes at Bank United Center. Scott Wood was the Pack's player of the game with a contest-high 21 points, going 5-for-9 from the field, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range to help State to a 78-73 victory. Wood was also 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, a performance that would help him set the ACC consecutive free throw record at 58, four more than the previous mark set by J.J. Redick (2003-04).

The Feb. 29 meeting in the Pack's home finale was crucial, as NC State entered the game with four consecutive losses. The Wolfpack came away with a 77-73 victory shooting 5-of-8 from the free throw line in the final minutes to secure the win.

Not only will the Feb. 3 Super Bowl be a family affair between brothers Jim and John Harbaugh as they coach the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, respectively, but it will also have a family connection with NC State ties.

Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried is the Harbaughs second cousin, as their grandmothers were sisters. In other words, Gottfried's father, Joe, and Jim and John's dad, Jack, are first cousins. Jack Harbaugh is the Wolfpack head coach's godfather.

Gottfried's oldest son Brandon also played football for a season under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford before he left to coach the 49ers. Gottfried's uncle, Mike, coached football at Pitt from 1986-89 and both John and Jack were on his staff in 1987.

The Harbaughs have one other basketball connection: their sister, Joani, is married to Indiana coach Tom Crean.

Senior Richard Howell enters the Miami game tied for third nationally with 13 double-doubles this season, just two away from the top mark nationally of 15 by Mike Muscala of Bucknell and Jerrelle Benimon of Towson.

Howell has posted double-digit point and rebound totals in each of the last four games and is looking to become the first Wolfpack player since Kenny Carr in 1977 to record a double-double in five straight contests. Carr is also the last player to average double figures in both points and rebounds in the same season (1976).

For the season, Howell has posted 13 double-doubles, which ranks as the most for a Wolfpack player since center Todd Fuller had 13 as a junior in 1994-95 and ties as the eighth-highest mark in school history. The most for any Wolfpack player over the last four decades is 7-foot-2 center Tommy Burleson's 26 during the Wolfpack's 1974 NCAA championship season. Burleson also had 21 as a sophomore and 19 as a junior for a total of 66 in his three-year career.

Six points. That's all that separates the 2012-13 Wolfpack from its current 5-3 mark in ACC action and a perfect 8-0 slate. NC State's ACC losses at Maryland, at Wake Forest and at Virginia were decided by a combined six points, and all were decided in the final 10 seconds.

Over the last four games, the Pack has come out firing and grabbed early leads. NC State has led virtually the entire way in each of the last four first halves of action.

In the 80 minutes of action in the first half of the last four games, the Pack has only trailed for 1:29, when Wake Forest scored the game's first basket.

The Pack has shot 48.8 percent from the floor, and an even more impressive 51.9 percent from three-point range in the first half of those contests. In each of the last four games, the Pack has built a double digit lead (Clemson 11, Wake Forest 16, North Carolina 23, Virginia 11), and has gone into the half up by an average of 11.5 points.

In the second half, the numbers have been a little different. The Pack has been outscored in the second half of the last four games by an average margin of 9.8 points.

In those four contests, the opponents have combined to shoot just 38.8 percent (50-129) in first half action, but that percentage jumps to 52.1 percent (61-117) after the break.

NC State's C.J. Leslie is definitely counted on by his team for his scoring. Leslie leads the Wolfpack with 15.6 points per game, the fifthbest mark in the ACC heading into the game with Miami. He has posted the Pack's high point total in seven contests this season. Leslie is also counted on for rebounding.

Although his rebounding numbers sometime go unnoticed because of Richard Howell's prowess in that category, he ranks 10th in the league with 7.3 boards per game.

The junior has also been counted on for accuracy. His .557 field goal percentage ranks fourth in the current league rankings.

Leslie, Duke's Mason Plumlee and UNC's James Michael McAdoo are the only players in the ACC to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. Leslie is tied with Howell for the team lead in blocked shots with 21.

Senior sharpshooter Scott Wood has played in a team-high 124 career games and has started 122 of those contests.

In NC State history, only 2004 ACC Player of the Year Julius Hodge started more contests. Hodge got the nod 125 times.

NC State currently ranks second in the ACC in scoring at 78.6 points per game, which ties as the 10th-best mark nationally. The Pack is one of six teams with five double-figure scorers, so it's probably safe to say that the offense is the driving force behind State's success.

In the Pack's 16 wins, Mark Gottfried's squad is averaging 83.3 points per game while shooting 53.1 percent from the field (474-893). In those 16 wins, NC State has been held under 70 points only once.

However, when the Pack's offense has stalled, the results have not been positive. In its five losses, NC State averaged just 63.4 points a game, shooting 42.1 percent from the floor (127-302). In three of those five games, NC State was held under 60 points.

The game at Wake Forest on Jan. 22 may have marked the first time in school history that two players have reached the 1,000-point total for their career in the same game. Senior Richard Howell and junior Lorenzo Brown both reached that milestone and now boast 1,036 and 1,025 career points respectively. Now, all four of the Wolfpack's upperclassmen are members of the 1,000-point club.

Scott Wood scored his 1,000th point in last season's opening-round win over San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament and now has 1,270 career points.

Junior C.J. Leslie earned his place in the fraternity in the first half in NC State's win over Western Michigan on Dec. 29. He became the 46th player in NC State's storied basketball history to score his 1,000th point and now boasts 1,159 for his career.

The last time NC State had three 1,000-point scorers on the same team was in 2008-09, with Brandon Costner (1,273), Ben McCauley (1,138) and Courtney Fells (1,060).

The 1982-83 squad also had a trio of 1,000 scorers led by Thurl Bailey (1,495), Dereck Whittenburg (1,272) and Sidney Lowe (1,048). That squad went on to win the national title.

Only 10 previous times have a pair of players in the same recruiting class each scored 1,000 point during their careers, the last was the trio of Costner, Fells and McCauley. Howell and Wood became the 11th and Brown and Leslie are the 12th.

Early in the Wolfpack's win over top-ranked Duke on Jan. 12, Mark Gottfried asked his team during a time out if anyone was going to rebound.

Senior Richard Howell spoke up quickly and told his head coach not to worry - that if nobody else got any, he would get them all.

Howell lived up to his word in that game and in the five games since, as he has been active on the glass more than ever before. He currently ranks a close second in the ACC in rebounds per game with 11.0 (just behind Duke's Mason Plumlee at 11.1).

In games against ACC competition, his average is an even more impressive 13.4, which leads all league players. Howell also leads the conference in offensive boards, pulling down 4.0 a contest, 5.4 vs. league opponents.

In each of the past nine games and 13 of the last 15, Howell has rebounded in double digits. That nine-game streak of double-digit rebound games is the the most for a Pack player since All-American Tommy Burleson did it in 10 straight games in 1972-73.

Howell also continues his climb in the NC State record book. He now ranks sixth in school history in that career category with 907. He ranks second in school history in offensive rebounds with 345, just 25 from tying the school record.

With the game close in the final minute, there is nobody NC State coach Mark Gottfried wants more to go to the free throw line than senior Scott Wood.

Wood's .912 mark from the line would lead the ACC if he had enough makes to qualify (he averages 2.476 made FTs per game and the minimum is 2.5).

Over the last 13 games, Wood has shot 38-of-40 (.950) from the charity stripe, and in the final minute of ACC games this season, has sunk 18- of-20 (.900) attempts.

For his career, Wood has hit 88.1 percent from the free throw line. He is well ahead of the pace to establish a new school record, as the current school record holder for career free throw percentage is Terry Gannon (1982-85) at 85.4 percent.

Last season, Wood set the ACC record for consecutive free throws made with 66 straight during the season. That streak is the fourth longest in NCAA history.

NC State continues to be among the national leaders in field goal percentage. The Pack led the nation for several weeks and now ranks fourth with a .503 mark.

The Pack boasts three of the top five shooters in the ACC. Freshman T.J. Warren leads the league and ranks 11th nationally with a .633 mark, while Richard Howell is third and C.J. Leslie is fourth with marks of .575 and .557 respectively.

After posting a .529 (474-895) mark in the first 16 games of the season, State has shot just .423 (127-300) in the last five games - all versus ACC competition.

In 14 of 21 contests this season, State has shot .500 or better, including a season best .614 in its season-opening victory over Miami of Ohio. In its first three games against ACC competition, State hit .500 from the field.

State has shot .531 (442-828) in its 16 wins and just .421 (127-302) in its five losses. Another common factor in the five losses has been that they all occurred away from the friendly confines of the PNC Arena.

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