After opening up its ACC slate with a 90-69 win over Wake Forest this past weekend, NC State hits the road for two straight conference games, starting tonight at Boston College at 9 p.m.
The Wolfpack (11-4, 1-0 ACC) will be looking to open its conference slate with two straight wins for the first time since the 2003-04 season. Overall, NC State has won five straight games, and seven of the last eight.
The Eagles (12-4, 2-0 ACC) sit atop the ACC standings winning their first two conference games. In December, Boston College won at Maryland, and this past weekend downed visiting Georgia Tech, 86-75.
This game will be televised on the ESPNU with Kevin Negandhi and Len Elmore.
The Series Versus Boston College
Tuesday's matchup with Boston College is only the 11th meeting between the two schools, but the series does date back to 1967-68. The Eagles hold a 7-3 advantage in the series, with a 4-3 mark since BC joined the ACC.
Boston College holds a 3-1 advantage in games played in Chestnut Hill, and the Eagles are 3-2 in games in Raleigh, and also won the only meeting on a neutral site.
The two squads met at the Boston Garden Invitational on Dec. 20, 1967, with BC winning 72-55 at that neutral site. The squads then traded home-and-home games in 2003 and 2004 before BC joined the ACC, with the Eagles winning 93-81 in Raleigh (1/16/03), and also edging the Pack in overtime, 66-65, in Chestnut Hill (1/20/04).
The two teams split a pair of match-ups in the first season BC was in the ACC, 2005-06.
NC State's lone win at BC was an 18 point win (78-60) versus the No. 15 Eagles in 2006. The rematch that season in Raleigh was an exciting one, with the Eagles winning 74-72 in double overtime.
The Eagles returned to Raleigh and posted a 74-58 win in 2007, and in 2008 the Pack fell at BC, 82-65. In 2008-09, each team won on its home court, and last season the Pack came away with a 66-54 home win in the final regular season game of the season.
Last Season Versus Boston College
The two teams met in the final regular season game of the season in Raleigh last season. NC State concluded its regular season winning for the third time in the last four games, as the Pack downed Boston College 66-54 on Senior Day at the RBC Center. The first half featured five ties and three lead changes, as NC State went into the half with a slight 24-23 lead.
In the second half, NC State shot 59.1 percent (13-22) from the floor, and had zero turnovers. The Eagles held a 47-43 lead with 7:10 left, but the Pack would go on a 19-5 run and grab a 62-52 lead with 2:14 remaining. Tracy Smith led the Pack with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Dennis Horner and C.J. Williams both added 14 points.
Last Time Out for NC State
NC State opened ACC play with a 90-69 win over Wake Forest at the RBC Center on Saturday. The Pack opened the game on a 6-0 run, and never lost the lead, with the lead reaching as high as 29 points late in the second half. The 90 points are the most in an ACC game under Sidney Lowe, and the Pack also started its ACC slate with a win for the first time under Lowe. Tracy Smith recorded his first double- double since last season, as he has 23 points and 11 rebounds. C.J. Leslie finished with 19 points, while C.J. Williams tied a career-best with 16 points.).
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 January 1.
In his three games back from injury, Smith has averaged 18.0 points, shooting 60.0 percent (21-35) in 28.3 minutes of action in wins over San Diego, Elon and Wake Forest. In his first game back against San Diego, 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.
Smith then returned to the starting lineup at Elon on January 5, and scored 15 points, with nine coming in the second half after the Pack was down at the break. In the season opener against Wake Forest, Smith record his first double-double of the season, 23 points and 11 rebounds. The 23 points matched an ACC-best for Smith.
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.
Hot After the Break
Coming back from a short holiday break, NC State has been impressive in its four games thus far, winning by an average of 22.3 points. 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, and won at Elon on January 5, 87-72. In the ACC opener, the Pack downed Wake Forest at home, 90-69.
NC State has shot over 50.0 percent in all four games, the most consecutive games it has done so since early in the 2008-09 season. NC State has not had five straight games over 50.0 percent since its postseason run in Lowe's first season of 2006-07. In those three games, the Pack shot 55.3 percent (125-226) from the floor, while holding its two opponents to just 35.7 percent (86-241).
Time to Re-Pack the Bags
The Pack's trip to Boston College marks the first time NC State will be leaving the state of North Carolina since December 4.
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. The Wolfpack then returned home for a six-game homestand, and seven of eight games at home, the only road trip was a short drive to the Greensboro Coliseum to take on Elon. During that long stretch, the Pack won seven of eight games, only falling to Arizona at home.
Smith Reaches Milestone
In the ACC season opener against Wake Forest, senior Tracy Smith scored his 1,000th career point. Smith currently has 1,013 career points, which ranks 44th in school history. He is also 49 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.
Taking Care of the Rebounds
Last season, NC State finished last in the ACC in rebounding margin, at -0.6 per game. Things have changed this season, as the Pack is currently fifth in the conference, outrebounding the opposition 4.8 boards a game.
NC Stater has also outrebounded its opponents in nine straight games, its longest such streak of games since 11 straight to start the 1998-99 season.
NC State is one of only two ACC schools that currently has a pair of players ranked in the top-12 in the conference standings in rebounding (North Carolina). C.J. Leslie is sixth in the ACC, pulling down 7.9 rebounds a game, while Richard Howell currently ranks 12th with 6.6 boards an outing.
Leslie Stepping Up
Over the last nine games, freshman C.J. Leslie has shown why he was one of the top recruits nationally entering this season. Leslie has averaged 12.3 points and 10.1 rebounds, recording three double-doubles in that span.
In the first six games of the season, he pulled down 4.5 boards a game, compared to 10.1 over the last nine contests. At Syracuse, Leslie came off the bench and finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Against Youngstown State, Leslie had team highs of 14 points and 19 rebounds. The 19 rebounds tie for the second-most in a game by an NC State freshman. His third double-double of the season came against Alabama A&M, as he had 14 points and 11 boards. In his ACC opener, Leslie finished with 19 points, with 7-of-8 free throws, in a win over Wake Forest.
Leslie has led the Pack in rebounding in eight of the last 10 games, and now ranks sixth in the ACC with 7.9 rebounds a game. He has scored 19 points in each of the last two games.
Harrow the Scorer
Despite not starting a game this season, freshman guard Ryan Harrow is currently tied for second on the team in scoring with 10.9 points per game. Over his last eight games, Harrow is averaging 11.1 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.
Since coming back from the holiday break, Harrow has averaged 12.3 points in the four games, while shooting 61.3 percent (19-31) from the floor.
He is also taking advantage from the free throw line. Harrow currently leads the ACC in free throw percentage, as he has hit 93.6 percent (44-47) of his attempts this season. He has hit his last 20 free throw attempts.
On the season, NC State is a perfect 8-0 when Harrow scores in double figures.
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 (14.1). In fact, the Pack has recorded an assist on 56.9 percent of its made field goals this season (397 FG, 226 assists).
Four different NC State players have at least 25 assists thus far. Freshman Lorenzo Brown leads the team with 3.5 assists per game, and has finished with five assists or more in five different contests. Fellow freshman Ryan Harrow averages 3.4 assists per game, and finished with an ACC season- best 10 against East Carolina. Senior Javier Gonzalez has dished out 32 assists, while Scott Wood has posted 30.
In the ACC stats, Harrow ranks fourth in assist/turnover ratio (2.2), while Wood is fifth (2.0).
Setting a Rotation
After using five different starting lineups in the first seven games of the season, NC State seems to have established a regular rotation over the last several 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 also been in the starting lineup for most of the season.
The Pack was forced to make adjustments early, as Tracy Smith was out of action for 10 games with a knee injury, but returned to the starting lineup on January 5. When Smith was out of action, sophomore DeShawn Painter filled in at center for the Pack.
Painter Filling in for Smith
When Tracy Smith was out of action following knee surgery, sophomore DeShawn Painter saw an increased role in the Pack's frontcourt.
Painter got the starting nod at center for Smith, and in the 11 games Smith was injured, Painter averaged 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 23.8 minutes per contest. He recorded his first career double- double when he came off the bench and had 12 points and 10 rebounds against East Carolina, new career highs in each category. He has since added a new career-best in scoring, when he finished with 14 points against Delaware State.
Last season, Painter averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds, seeing action in 26 of 36 games.
The Sharp Shooter
Scott Wood made an immediate impact as a freshman last season. The only Wolfpack player to start all 36 games, Wood finished fourth on the team in scoring (7.8 ppg) and was the Pack's top long-range threat, connecting on 37.3 percent (63-169) of his three-point attempts. His 63 three-pointers made are the second-most for any Wolfpack freshman.
He set a new school record for the most three-pointers made in an ACC Tournament game when he hit six against Florida State, and earlier in the season his seven three- pointers at Florida State were the fifth-most in a single game.
This season, Wood has picked up right where he left off. He has started all 15 games and is fourth on the team in scoring with 10.7 points a game. Wood leads the ACC in three-pointers per game (2.7) and is third in three-point percentage (.446).
In the win over Fairleigh Dickinson, Wood hit all four of his three-point attempts, including three in a span of just over two minutes, to help the Pack pull away in a close game. At Syracuse, he hit a season- high six three-pointers and finished with 18 points.
Although he was 0-of-5 from three- point range against Delaware State, his only game this season without a three- pointer, his mid-range jumper with just 2.1 seconds left was the game-winner, and his only basket of the game.
In the Pack's 15 games this season it has been the nationally ranked freshman class that has led the offensive charge. Freshmen Lorenzo Brown, Ryan Harrow and C.J. Leslie have combined to score 43.0 percent of the team's total points, as all three rookies are averaging double figures, and rank among the Pack's top five scorers on the season.
Leslie and Harrow are tied for second on the team at 10.9 points a game, while Brown is fifth at 10.1 points.
NC State's freshman class was ranked No. 5 nationally by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, while ESPN had the Pack at No. 7.
One glance at the ACC stats and you will notice there are no NC State players in the top-20 in scoring (Tracy Smith missed too many games to be ranked in the overall ACC season stats). The Wolfpack offense has been a balanced attack this season, with five players averaging in double figures. Smith leads the squad at 13.6, but the next four scorers are averaging between 10.9 and 10.1 points a game.
In the season stats, it's the Pack's youth that is leading the way. Six of the top seven scorers on the season are either freshmen or sophomores. The freshman and sophomore classes are producing 79.1 percent of NC State's scoring.