NC State will take a short bus ride down I-40, as the Wolfpack steps out of conference play for the final time this season, playing Elon on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will be played at the Greensboro Coliseum, the site of this year's ACC Tournament, and the second straight season NC State has played a regular season game at the arena (defeated UNC Greensboro on New Year's Eve, 89-67).
The Wolfpack (9-4) has been on a roll since coming back from the holiday break, as NC State has notched its two biggest wins of the season this past week, 82-51 over Alabama A&M last Tuesday and 76-54 over San Diego this past Saturday.
The Phoenix (6-7) come in winners of their last two, both on the road, and four of their last six overall. This will be the second game Elon has played at the Greensboro Coliseum, previously falling to Wake Forest, 89-70, on November 20.
This game will not be televised.
The Series Versus Elon
NC State will be facing Elon for only the third time since the 1926- 27 season. The Pack hosted Elon in the second game of the 2004-05 season, as NC State came away with a 71-45 win in the BCA Invitational, and once again defeated Elon last season in Raleigh, 79-76.
In the overall series, NC State leads 19-8. Prior to that 2004-05 meeting, NC State and Elon faced off 26 times from the 1913-14 season to the 1926-27 season. NC State is 180-28 all-time against teams from the Southern Conference.
Last Season Versus Elon
In a game that featured 11 lead changes in the second half, NC State held on to down Elon, 79-76, at the RBC Center on December 17. Down 39-33 at the half, the Pack opened the second half on a 7-0 run and captured its first lead since scoring the first basket 15 seconds into the game. The game would stay within five points, until the Pack captured a 69-63 lead with 2:48 that the Pack would not relinquish. Elon opened the game on a 15-7 run, and led by as many as 11 points at the 2:19 mark in the first half. Dennis Horner scored a then career-best 23 points while Tracy Smith added 21 points.
Last Time Out for NC State
Tracy Smith returned after missing 10 games after knee surgery, and led the Wolfpack with a game-high 16 points as NC State defeated visiting San Diego, 76-54, Saturday afternoon at the RBC Center. The Pack opened the game on an 8-0 run, and never lost the lead, building a 43-25 lead at the half.
For the second straight game, the Pack shot over 50.0 percent from the field, as NC State hit 55.2 percent (32-58) of its shots from the floor. Richard Howell recorded a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds, while freshmen Lorenzo Brown (14) and Ryan Harrow (12) were also in double figures.
Senior Tracy Smith missed 10 games after undergoing knee surgery in mid-November, but finally made his return in the win over San Diego on Saturday. Smith started on the bench, and checked into the contest at the 15:10 mark. On his very first touch, Smith converted his first field goal attempt in nearly six weeks. He finished the contest with a game-high 16 points (7-of-12 shooting) and played 25 minutes.
After playing only six minutes against East Carolina in the Charleston Classic on Nov. 18, Smith returned to Raleigh to get an evaluation on his knee. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Nov. 19. The joint was debrided and no major damage was found. He played a total of just 34 minutes in the first two games of the season before missing nearly six weeks of action.
Pack Familiar With Greensboro Coliseum
NC State's returning players will have a bit of a familiar feel when they play at the Greensboro Coliseum this week, as the Pack played four games there last season, going 3-1. The Pack went 2-1 in the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum last year, reaching the semifinals. NC State started with defeating Clemson (59-57) and then Florida State (58-52), before falling to Georgia Tech (57-54).
During the regular season, NC State opened with a 23-8 run, and defeated UNC Greensboro on New Year's Eve, 89-67. In all, the Pack's seven returning scholarship players from last season played a total of 24 games in the Greensboro Coliseum, with 13 combined starts.
Something About Greensboro
In four career games at the Greensboro Coliseum, Scott Wood has made 15-of-24 three-pointers for a sizzling 62.5 percent. In the Pack's four games there last season, Wood averaged 12.0 an outing.
Wood was named to the ACC All-Tournament squad. In the first round of the ACC Tournament against Clemson, Wood was a perfect 2-2 from the three-point line and fin- ished with six points. In the quarterfinal win over Florida State, Wood went 6-of-10 from long range and scored a game-high 18 points. In the semifinal loss to Georgia Tech, he was 2-of-5 and had nine points.
In the regular season game against UNCG, Wood went 5-7 from the three-point line and finished with 15 points.
Hot After the Break
Coming back from a short holiday break, NC State has been impressive in its two games thus far. NC State started with an 82-51 win over Alabama A&M on December 28, then downed San Diego, 76-54, on New Year's Day. The two winning margins, 31 points and 22 points, are the highest this season.
In those two games, the Pack shot 54.5 percent (61-112) from the floor, while holding its two opponents to just 32.8 percent (41-125).
Harrow the Scorer
Despite not starting a game this season, freshman guard Ryan Harrow is currently leading the team in scoring with 10.8 points per game.
Over his last six games, Harrow is averaging 12.3 points, including a season-best 20 against USC Upstate. Harrow did not break double figures in any of the four games prior to this stretch, and averaged 6.3 points a game.
He is also taking advantage from the free throw line. Harrow currently leads the ACC in free throw percentage, as he has hit 92.3 per- cent (36-39) of his attempts this season. On the season, NC State is a perfect 7-0 when Harrow scores in double figures.
Almost Time to Re-Pack the Bags
The Elon game on Wednesday will be the Pack's first road trip since December 4. After playing five of its first seven games away from Raleigh to start the season, the Wolfpack returned home for a six-game homestand. NC State will not leave the state of North Carolina until a Jan. 11 trip to Boston College, the first ACC road contest of the season.
The Pack went 5-1 during its homestand.
First was a 79-60 win over USC Upstate in Reynolds Coliseum, followed by a come-from- behind 67-50 win over Youngstown State. The Pack then fell to Arizona, 72-62, and came away with a 72-70 win over Delaware State on December 22. After a short holiday break, the Pack downed Alabama A&M last Tuesday, 82-51, and then San Diego on New Year's Day, 76-54.
The Pack started the season at home against Tennessee Tech, then played three games in four days at the Charleston Classic. After returning home to play Fairleigh Dickinson, the Pack had back-to-back road games at Wisconsin and Syracuse.
Smith Closing in on Milestones
With the return of senior Tracy Smith last game, the Pack's leading scorer and rebounder from last season is on the verge of a few career milestones.
Smith is just 25 points away from becoming the 44th player in NC State history to score 1,000 career points.
He is also 66 rebounds from 500 for his career. He would become the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
Racking Up Assists
Scoring has been an overall team effort for the Wolfpack this season. NC State is currently fifth in the ACC in assists per game (15.2). In fact, the Pack has recorded an assist on 59.2 percent of its made field goals this season (333 FG, 197 assists).
Four different NC State players have at least 25 assists thus far. Freshman Lorenzo Brown ranks ninth in the ACC in assists with 3.7 per game, and has finished with five assists or more in five different games. Fellow freshman Ryan Harrow averages 3.2 assists per game, and finished with an ACC-best 10 against East Carolina. Senior Javier Gonzalez has dished out 30 assists, while Scott Wood has posted 26. In the ACC stats, Harrow ranks sixth in as- sist/turnover ratio (2.2), while Wood is eighth (1.9).
Setting a Rotation
After using five different starting lineups in the first seven games of the season, NC State has started the same lineup the last six games.
Senior point guard Javier Gonzalez and sophomore small forward Scott Wood are the only two NC State players to start every game this season. Freshmen Lorenzo Brown (shooting guard) and C.J. Leslie (power forward) have been joined in the starting lineup by sophomore center DeShawn Painter the last six games.
The Pack was forced to make adjustments early, as senior Tracy Smith was out of action for 10 games with a knee injury, but should be returning to the starting lineup.