Gameday: NC State vs. Florida State

NC State closes out the regular season this evening against Florida State in the RBC Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:15, and the game will be televised on FSN.

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Tip-Off: 6:15 p.m.

Television: FSN

Radio: Airtime begins @ 5:45 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information

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    Florida State Information

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    NC State Projected Starting Line-up
    G Javier Gonzalez
    G Lorenzo Brown
    F Scott Wood
    F C.J. Leslie
    F Tracy Smith

    Florida State Projected Starting Line-up
    G Derwin Kitchen
    G Michael Snaer
    G Deividas Dulkys
    F Okaro White
    C Bernard James

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    Tracy Smith --
    Look for NC State to try and establish Smith early against the Seminoles. It won't be easy, but the Wolfpack needs Smith to have a big game.

    Florida State
    Bernard James --
    The junior center had a big game against the Wolfpack at FSU, and the Noles will likely be looking to establishing him again tonight.


    TSX: NC State Report

    Senior guard Javier Gonzalez was clearly the Wolfpack's best player in their 69-58 loss at Virginia on March 1.

    Yet after a scintillating first half in which he nailed three 3-pointers, Gonzalez started the second half on the bench.

    Coach Sidney Lowe inexplicably continued to play struggling freshmen Ryan Harrow (0-of-4, no assists) and Lorenzo Brown (3-of-8, four turnovers, three assists) over Gonzalez (6-of-10, 16 points, four assists, two turnovers).

    Every time Gonzalez entered the game, he gave North Carolina State a much needed lift. By the time Lowe adjusted, it was too late. Gonzalez's 25 productive minutes weren't enough as the Wolfpack lost for the third time in four games.

    The defeat was another example of N.C. State (15-14, 5-10 in the ACC) failing to maximize its talent under Lowe.

    The argument for keeping Lowe last spring, after the Wolfpack missed the NCAA Tournament for a fourth consecutive time, centered on preserving a heralded recruiting class featuring Harrow, Brown and C.J. Leslie.

    Lowe stayed, and the freshmen have shown plenty of promise. But N.C. State appears no closer to becoming a serious threat in the ACC.

    The Wolfpack conclude the regular season at home against Florida State on Sunday. Then, barring a miracle run in the ACC Tournament, Lowe could be looking for work.

    BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: N.C. State let plodding Virginia dictate the tempo in the Cavaliers' 69-58 home victory on March 1. That minimized opportunities for N.C. State's top scorer, Tracy Smith, who took only four shots, making three. The Wolfpack hoisted only 49 shots while committing 15 turnovers. N.C. State also failed to take advantage of its superior front line, with far too much dribbling on the perimeter.

    NOTES, QUOTES
    -- The Wolfpack's last victory at Virginia came in 2004-05. N.C. State fell to 0-4 at John Paul Jones Arena with the March 1 loss to the Cavaliers.

    -- Through the March 1 loss at Virginia, N.C. State had used the same starting five of Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, C.J. Leslie and Tracy Smith for six consecutive games (3-3).

    -- Senior forward Tracy Smith, who had averaged 16.6 points over the previous five games, was held to 10 points and only four shots in the March 1 loss at Virginia. Smith played only 18 minutes, grabbing three rebounds.

    -- Sophomore center Jordan Vandenberg, an Australian who stands 7-foot-1, played 22 minutes in the March 1 loss at Virginia, but did not take a shot and collected only three rebounds. It was a step back for the Aussie, who had averaged 6.0 points in 15.5 minutes against North Carolina and Georgia Tech.

    -- Getting the ball in the hands of senior F Tracy Smith is a big key for North Carolina State. Smith was 8-for-10 from the field and scored 18 points in the win Feb. 26 over Georgia Tech, his 15th time in double figures in 16 games since returning from knee surgery.

    -- After going 37-for-43 from the free-throw line in the previous two games against Maryland and North Carolina, North Carolina State was back to its normal high 60s against Georgia Tech, going 17-of-25 (68.0 percent) from the stripe.

    -- Freshman G Ryan Harrow has struggled since coming back from an illness that benched him for games against North Carolina on Jan. 29 and Virginia Tech on Feb. 2. He had 10 points in the win Feb. 26 over Georgia Tech, but six of the points came at the free-throw line, where he had a rare two misses. He is averaging only 5.7 ppg over his last six games.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 9-1 -- N.C. State's record against Gerogia Tech in the RBC Center after a 79-74 victory on Feb. 26.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what Tracy does. He's an automatic scorer." -- Freshman G Lorenzo Brown, to the Raleigh News & Observer, after senior F Tracy Smith came up with three key baskets late in the win over Georgia Tech.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    GAME PREVIEW:
    --vs. Florida State, March 6
    KEY MATCHUPS:
    FSU will be without F Chris Singleton, but Singleton didn't have a big impact in the first game, settling for 11 points and five rebounds in the Seminoles' 13-point in Tallahassee. F Bernard James (16 points, seven boards, four steals), G Michael Snaer (13 points), and F Terrance Shannon (12 points, nine rebounds) led that FSU win.

    FUTURES MARKET: With sophomore F Richard Howell recovering from a concussion, sophomore F Jordan Vandenberg saw increased playing time against North Carolina and Georgia Tech. He scored a career-high eight points and had three rebounds against the Yellow Jackets on Feb. 2. "We have worked with Jordan to help him earn more playing time,." coach Sidney Lowe said. "He's done a great job every time we have put him in there."

    PLAYER NOTES
    -- Sophomore F Richard Howell returned to play against Georgia Tech after sitting out the previous game against North Carolina with a concussion. In 24 minutes against the Yellow Jackets, he scored only three points but had seven rebounds, a team-high, and three steals.

    -- Freshman F C.J. Leslie ended a streak of superlative efforts with subpar production against Georgia Tech. He went into the game averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds over the previous six games but settled for three points and two rebounds in 20 minutes against the Jackets.

    -- Sophomore G Scott Wood scored a season-high 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting (2-for-5 on threes) against the Jackets.


    TSX: Florida State Report

    Florida State had the perfectly scripted ending... all except for the heartbreak.

    The Seminoles, rallying from seven points down in the final four minutes, lead North Carolina on March 2 in the final seconds of Florida State's final home game. The perfect ticket punch for the NCAA Tournament, right?

    Uh, oh. Once again, North Carolina put a dagger into the Seminoles' pending celebration, as freshman star Harrison Barnes nailed a 3-pointer with three seconds to go to give the Tar Heels a 72-70 victory. It was reminiscent of three years ago, when then-freshman star Ty Lawson hit a buzzer shot to beat Florida State in Tallahassee.

    This loss didn't crush Florida State's NCAA Tournament hopes, but it leaves a shred of doubt as the Seminoles head to Tobacco Road for their regular-season finale March 6 at N.C. State. At issue is the emotional effect of a game like this and whether Florida State (20-9, 10-5 ACC) can recover enough to head on the road and play with the same kind of energy. The good news for the Seminoles is how badly N.C. State is struggling.

    The North Carolina game is one the Seminoles knew could be the difference in feeling secure or uncertain heading into the ACC tournament. The Seminoles can finish no worse than fourth place in the regular season, but they would get a third-place finish if they win at N.C. State. It would have all been simplified with a dramatic win against Tar Heels.

    "We can't have a pity party. We got one game left on the road, and it's very important to our basketball team," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

    Playing without star junior Chris Singleton, who missed his fourth game with a fractured foot and may be out for the rest of the season, the Seminoles got 13 points from lone senior Derwin Kitchen and their best combined bench effort (27 points) of the season.

    The Seminoles' performance was especially impressive considering the Tar Heels had won by 20 points on Feb. 6 -- a game Singleton played -- in Chapel Hill, N.C.

    "I hope people understand how good we actually are, because I don't think people understand that. That when we come to play, we're a very, very, very good team," Florida State guard Michael Snaer said.

    BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: The March 2 loss to North Carolina was one of Florida State's best games in several years, considering the competition. There were nine ties, nine different lead changes in the first half. North Carolina went up 67-60 with 3:56 left and seemed to have the game in hand. The solace for Florida State was how the Seminoles rallied with different players to take the lead on two free throws by Derwin Kitchen with 18 seconds to go. Kitchen also hit a running shot with 50 seconds to go to cut North Carolina's lead to one. The Seminoles' lament was missing six free throws in the second half.

    NOTES, QUOTES
    -- The Seminoles shot 48.3 percent, one of their best efforts of the season, and finished with the low total of 10 turnovers in the March 2 loss to North Carolina. They finished with more assists (13) than turnovers for one of the few times this season.

    -- With its win against Miami on Feb. 26, Florida State jumped four spots in the RPI, moving from 52nd to 48th. This makes the Seminoles the third-highest rated ACC team behind Duke and North Carolina.

    -- The Seminoles used the game against Miami to celebrate a reunion of their 1972 team, the only one in school history to reach the Final Four and play for a national title. FSU lost to UCLA in the title game. That team's coach, Hugh Durham, all of his assistants and all but one member of that team came back for the special event. Ron King, the star shooting guard from that squad, wore an all-yellow suit, similar to the all-gold suit he wore when having his jersey retired at FSU in 2009.

    -- The Seminoles' win against Miami assured the third consecutive 10-win ACC seasons. It's the first time that's happened since FSU joined the ACC in 1991-92.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 53 -- Number of ACC victories Florida State has amassed since the 2005-06 season, through Feb. 27. It tied FSU with Maryland, which trailed only Duke and North Carolina for the most among ACC teams during that span.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think we need to start taking any bows at this point. We can't let ourselves get too excited because we have a nationally-ranked team coming here next that embarrassed us. We've got to stay humble." -- Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton, following his team's win Feb. 26 against Miami.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    GAME PREVIEW:
    --at N.C. State, March 6
    KEY MATCHUPS:
    Depending on what happens against the Tar Heels, this final regular-season game could be significant for the Seminoles' seeding in the ACC Tournament and as a possible closing argument for the NCAA Tournament selection committee. It's the only matchup this season with the Wolfpack, which may be fighting for head coach Sidney Lowe's future. The Seminoles' main challenge will be N.C. State's talented freshman forward, C.J. Leslie, who has lived up to advance billing as one of the top players from the 2010 recruiting class. He scored in double figures in six consecutive games, before getting held to just three points in the Feb. 26 win against Georgia Tech. N.C. State has quality guards, led by Scott Wood and Tracy Smith. The Wolfpack could need this win to secure a winning season.

    FUTURES MARKET: Freshman F Okaro White hit the biggest shot of his brief career, banking in a shot with 31 seconds to go, after Miami cut FSU's lead to 62-59 in the Feb. 26 game. White finished with 17 points and seven rebounds as he continues to help fill the void left by Chris Singleton's injury.

    PLAYER NOTES
    -- Junior C Xavier Gibson wowed the crowd March 2 with a one-handed dunk along the baseline while sailing over the head of North Carolina's John Henson, a Tampa resident. Gibson may have played his best game since returning from knee and hand injuries seven games ago. He scored six points, had three rebounds and a block.

    -- Senior G Derwin Kitchen was the only scholarship senior player honored, but the Seminoles also treated two walk-ons who have rarely, Andrew Rutledge and A.J. Yawn, to the same pregame treatment March 2. They got frame jerseys and were joined by their parents.


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