Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: Airtime begins @ 6:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network
NC State Information
NC State Projected Starting Line-up
G Ryan Harrow
G Lorenzo Brown
F Scott Wood
F C.J. Leslie
F Tracy Smith
Virginia Projected Starting Line-up
G Sammy Zeglinski
G Mustapha Farrakhan
G Jontel Evans
G Joe Harris
C Assane Sene
Players to Watch
Tracy Smith -- Virginia starts four guards and has just one true post big men in center Assane Sene. Smith needs to have a huge game for the Wolfpack.
Mustapha Farrakhan -- Farrakhan leads Virginia in scoring (13.2 ppg) and minutes played. The Cavs don't have many explosive offensive weapons so they tend to win when Farrakhan plays well.
NC State Notebook
NOTING THE PACK
• NC State is 0-3 all-time at John Paul Jones Arena, last winning in Charlottesville in 2004- 05.
• After starting ACC play 2-7, NC State has gone 3-2 and pulled into a tie for eighth place with Miami and Virginia. NC State has the tiebreaker over Miami, and faces UVA only once this season.
• NC State's nine conference losses have been to teams that have a combined 70.6 (88-37) winning percentage. NC State's opponents in its losses post the highest winning percentage in the conference.
• C.J.Leslie has averaged 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds over his last seven games. In ACC games, Leslie ranks second in both scoring (12.5) and rebounding (6.5) among league rookies.
• Leslie is tied for the conference lead in being named ACC Rookie of the Week three times. Ryan Harrow was also named once.
• In NC State's five ACC wins the Pack has a +7.4 rebounding advantage and in the nine losses the rebounding margin is -7.3.
• Over the last two games, Jordan Vandenberg has averaged 6.0 points and 15.5 minutes. In the 16 games prior to those games, he played a combined 13 minutes and had not scored since Dec. 19.
• Tracy Smith has averaged 16.6 points over the last five games, after averaging 10.0 points the previous four games.
• Lorenzo Brown has averaged 10.4 points over the last 10 games, including a career- best 20 points at North Carolina and 15 points at Duke. He has also dished out 5.6 assists per game over the last eight games.
• NC State has had the same starting five of Harrow, Brown, Wood, Leslie and Smith for the last five games.
• NC State is a perfect 9-0 this season when shooting over 50.0 percent from the floor.
NC State Travels to Virginia
NC State wraps up the final week of ACC play starting with a road trip up to Virginia on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Wolfpack (15-13, 5-9 ACC) will return to Raleigh to host Florida State on Sunday night to conclude the regular season.
The Cavaliers (14-14, 5-9 ACC) have dropped four of their last six conference games, including a 63-44 home loss to Boston College on Saturday. This game will be televised on RSN with Bob Rathbun and Dan Bonner.
The Series Versus Virginia
NC State holds an 80-56 advantage in the all-time series with Virginia, which dates back to the 1912-13 season. The Pack holds a 38-18 advantage in games played in Raleigh and 19-2 edge at neutral sites, but Virginia holds a 36-23 mark in games in Charlottesville.
NC State has won in three of its last seven trips to Virginia, but posts an 0-3 record at the John Paul Jones Arena. The Pack's last win at UVA came during the 2004-05 season.
Last Season Season Versus Virginia
Virginia swept the season series last season. In Raleigh on January 9, NC State lost a 10-point second-half lead as Virginia downed the Pack, 70-62, in the ACC opener. NC State closed the first half on a 16-6 run, and opened the second half on a 12-6 run to grab a double-digit lead of 42-32 at the 13:31 mark. After a charging call on the Pack at 11:20, Virginia would go on a 13-3 run and capture its first lead of the second half at 49-48 with 6:17 left. Virginia closed the game by making 17 straight free throws, and went 19-of-20 for the game, while the Pack made just 16-of-26 attempts.
Tracy Smith led the Pack with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Dennis Horner added 12 points.
In Charlottesville on February 3, NC State had its lowest scoring total since 2006, and its lowest total in an ACC game since 2000, as the Pack fell, 59-47. NC State led by as many as seven points (26-18 with 3:20 left in 1st half), and was up 28-25 at the half.
Virginia opened the second half on a 15-4 run, in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. NC State finished with just 19 second-half points, hitting only 29.2 percent (7-24) from the field. Richard Howell was the Pack's top scorer for the first time in his career as he had 14 off the bench.
Last Time Out for NC State
NC State made 8-of-10 free throws in the final 52 seconds, as the Wolfpack held on for a 79-74 win over Georgia Tech at the RBC Center on Saturday.
NC State built its lead to as many as 12 points late in the first half, but Georgia Tech would even the score at 54-54 with 10:29 to play. The Pack responded with an 11-0 run over the next 4:03 and never lost the lead. Scott Wood scored a season-high 20 points, while Tracy Smith added 18 points. NC State improved to 9-1 at the RBC Center against the Yellow Jackets, and has won 12 of the last 13 in Raleigh against Georgia Tech.
Fighting for Position
With two regular season contests left, the Wolfpack has the opportunity to keep moving up in the ACC standings. Over the last three weeks, NC State has posted a 3-2 record in conference games and is in a three-way tie for eighth place at 5-9. Virginia and Miami also sit at 5-9 on the season.
NC State holds the tie breaker over Miami due to an earlier 72-70 win over the Canes, and NC State and Virginia meet on Tuesday in their lone regular season contest.
Maryland and Boston College each sit at 7-7 in the standings, but the Pack loses the tiebreaker to both due to losing at Maryland and at Boston College earlier this season.
Leslie Making Case for Rookie of the Year
C.J. Leslie's recent strong play has cemented his status as a leading candidate for ACC Rookie of the Year. Leslie is tied for the conference lead in winning ACC Rookie of the Week honors, having won three times thus far.
The local product from Holly Springs, N.C., leads the Pack in rebounding at 7.3 boards per game and is second on the team in scoring at 11.4 points. Leslie started the first four ACC games, averaging 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. Then he got sick and came off the bench in two straight games, averaging just 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in those contests.
But Leslie's recent play has been more like the beginning of the ACC season. Over the last seven games that he has played, he has averaged 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He scored 14 points at UNC and then had a team-high 18 points against Virginia Tech. After returning from a one-game suspension, Leslie tied his ACC best with 19 points at Wake Forest. In the win over Clemson, Leslie recorded his first double-double in ACC play with team-highs of 18 points and 10 boards. At Maryland, Leslie played a career-high 38 minutes and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, then in the home loss to No. 19 North Carolina he had team-highs of 13 points and eight boards.
On the season, Leslie ranks third in the ACC among freshmen in scoring (11.4), is second among all rookies in rebounding (7.3), and is second with four double-doubles. In conference games, Leslie ranks second in both scoring (12.5) and rebounding (6.5) among the league rookies. Pack Hoping for Another Late Run: NC State finished ACC play strong last season and is hoping to at least duplicate that late season run this season.
Last season, the Pack started ACC play 2-10, but turned things around at the end of the campaign. NC State won three of its final four ACC regular season games, and then advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. In all, the Pack won five of its final seven games against ACC foes last season.
NC State started conference play 2-7 this season, but has gone 3-2 over the last four games. The Pack wraps up conference play at Virginia on Tuesday and then hosts Florida State on Sunday to close out the regular season.
Pack's Tough Schedule
NC State's nine conference losses this season have been to teams that have a combined 70.6 (89-37) winning percentage in conference play. NC State's opponents in its losses post the highest winning percentage in the conference.
The Pack also faced a challenging non-conference slate, as four teams the Pack played earlier this season have been ranked for much of the year: No. 10 Arizona, No. 11 Georgetown, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 17 Syracuse (ratings not updated for new week).
Finding Help on the Boards
Rebounding for NC State has gone in two very different directions this season. In NC State's five ACC wins, the Pack has a +7.4 advantage in rebound margin. But in the Pack's nine conference losses is -7.3 in rebounding margin.
Before outrebounding both Wake Forest and Clemson recently, the Pack was out-rebounded in six straight ACC contests.
The Pack won the rebound battle at Wake Forest 36-26, and then pulled down 46 compared to Clemson's 38. In the six previous games, the Pack had a -9.7 rebounding margin, pulling down 33.5 boards to the opponent's 43.2.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
Over the last two games, NC State has received a big spark off the bench from sophomore center Jordan Vandenberg. The 7-1 footer from Melbourne, Australia, averaged 6.0 points, 3.0 rebounds in 15.5 minutes of action against North Carolina and Georgia Tech. He shot 6-of-7 from the field in the two games.
Against North Carolina, Vandenberg played 15 minutes and finished with four points (his first points scored since Dec. 19). In the win over Georgia Tech, he was a perfect 4-of- 4 from the field (all on dunks) and scored a career-best eight points.
In the 16 games prior to the North Carolina contest, Vandenberg played a combined 13 minutes and did not record any points.
NC State has constantly changed the starting lineup this season, boasting eight different combinations, with five starting for just two games or less. But over the last five games, the Pack has sent out the same starting five of Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, C.J. Leslie and Tracy Smith.
Sophomore Scott Wood has been the only player to start all 28 games, and has started all 64 games of his career.
When healthy, senior Tracy Smith has been the starter at center in 17 games. When Smith was out with a knee injury at the beginning of the season, sophomore DeShawn Painter started 11 contests.
At power forward, sophomore Richard Howell and freshman C.J. Leslie have been splitting the duties. Leslie has been in the starting lineup 20 times, including the last five games with Howell starting eight times this year.
Senior Javier Gonzalez (point guard - 20 starts) and freshman Lorenzo Brown (shooting guard - 24 starts) have started 44 of the possible 56 games at the guard positions this year. But freshman Ryan Harrow has started eight of the last 12 games at point guard, while junior C.J. Williams has started four games at shooting guard.
In the Pack's 28 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 41.2 percent of the team's total points, as all three rookies are averaging between 11.4 and 9.5 points per game, and rank among the Pack's top five scorers on the season.
Leslie is currently second at 11.4 points while Harrow is fourth at 9.8 points a game and Brown is fifth at 9.5 points.
The freshmen trio has also accounted for 54.3 percent of the team's assists and 33.0 percent of the team's rebounds.
The freshman class was ranked No. 5 nationally by both Rivals.com and Scout. com, while ESPN had the Pack at No. 7.
Smith Reaches Another Milestone
In the ACC season opener against Wake Forest on Jan. 8, senior Tracy Smith scored his 1,000th career point. Smith currently has 1,208 career points, which ranks 35th in school history.
He is six points shy of passing Ilian Evtimov and moving into 34th place.
In the game at Wake Forest on Feb. 13, Smith collected his 500th career rebound, and in the process became the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.
Brown Recovers From Slump
Lorenzo Brown struggled in the early part of January, averaging just 5.0 points over a five game stretch.
But over his last 10 games, Brown has averaged 10.4 points, including a career- high 20 points at North Carolina and then 15 points at Duke. Brown has also dished out 5.6 assists over his last eight games, with four games of at least seven assists. He matched his career-high of eight in two straight games, at Maryland and against North Carolina.
Racking Up Assists
Scoring has been an overall team effort for the Wolfpack this season. NC State currently ranks fifth in the ACC in assists per game (14.6). In fact, the Pack has recorded an assist on 55.9 per- cent of its made field goals this season (732 FG, 409 assists). Four different NC State players have at least 40 assists thus far. Freshman Lorenzo Brown leads the Pack, and ranks sixth in the ACC with 3.9 assists per game.
Classmate Ryan Harrow is close behind with 3.5 assists per game. Senior Javier Gonzalez has dished out 62 assists, while Scott Wood has posted 43.
NC State has recorded more assists than its opponents in 16 of 28 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 were the second-most for any Pack freshman. He set a school record for the most three-pointers made in an ACC Tournament game when he hit six against Florida State.
This season, Wood has started all 28 games and ranks third on the team in scoring with 10.0 points. Wood ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage (.432) and fourth in three-pointers per game (2.4).
Although he was 0-of-5 from three- point range against Delaware State, his mid-range jumper with just 2.1 seconds left was the gamewinner, and his only basket of the game.
One glance at the ACC stats and you will notice there are no NC State players ranked 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 at least 9.5 points. Smith leads the squad at 14.6, but the next four scorers are between 11.4 and 9.5 points a game.
In the season stats, it's the Pack's youth that is leading the way. Five of the top six scorers on the season are either freshmen or sophomores. The freshman and sophomore classes are producing 72.8 percent of NC State's scoring.
TSX: Virginia Report
The Cavaliers recent success -- winning consecutive games and finally surpassing .500 -- couldn't have come at a better time, with many thinking perhaps an invitation to the NIT was a serious possibility.
The small glimmer of hope is what makes the team's loss Feb. 26 to Boston College all the more dispiriting. With the 63-44 blowout, the Cavaliers may have squandered any chance of getting into a respectable postseason tournament.
Combine that with the nature of the loss --Virginia led by as much as 9 points in the first half, and controlled the first 15 minutes of the game -- and its left the Cavaliers with more questions than answers.
"We certainly struggled offensively and we've had games like this before where we weren't able to hit the shots or have enough guys scoring, but this was one of the first games where I felt like we really got outplayed defensively," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
Virginia's players echoed their coaches' sentiment.
"By not playing defense, we weren't giving ourselves the best chance to win it," senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan said. "We were doing what we usually do, but the style of offense they played didn't allow us to get too far in the gap or help too much because of the back cuts. That style of offense is different than what most teams run."
"It's tough but you have to have a short memory," freshman guard Joe Harris said. "You have to forget about this one and move on."
-- Freshman G Joe Harris, moved into the "4" position when Virginia switched to a four guard lineup, had a career high 10 rebounds, five offensive in the team's loss Feb. 26 to Boston College.
"He has what I call a "nose for the ball," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "He goes up and grabs it with his size, being 6-6. If there is one bright spot (in the loss to Boston College) it is that he had 10 rebounds. But he has shown that pretty consistently with his minutes. He has the ability to snatch the rebounds and be quick off his feet."
-- While not much of the season still remains, the Cavaliers have found consistency in at least one thing -- their starting lineup. The Boston College game marked the seventh time in a row that the starting lineup consisted of sophomore G Jontel Evans, senior G Mustapha Farrakhan, freshman G Joe Harris, junior G Sammy Zeglinski, and junior F Assane Sene.
-- Injuries have certainly taken their toll on the Cavaliers. This season, Virginia will likely end the season with a total of 34 "man-games" lost. In the previous two seasons, Virginia lost only five man-games combined.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-7 -- The Cavaliers' shooting from the 3-point arc in the second half Feb. 26 against Boston College, a season low.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When our cold shooting and our offensive output was down, our defense didn't carry us." -- Virginia Coach Tony Bennett, on his team's loss to Boston College.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. N.C. State, March 1
KEY MATCHUPS: On Senior night, Virginia will host an N.C. State team remarkably similar to itself. At 15-13, and 5-9 in the ACC, the Wolfpack are hoping to claw their way to a postseason tournament. If the Cavaliers want to send their veterans off on a high note, they need to find a way to stop senior F Tracy Smith, who is averaging 15.6 points per game since returning from a knee injury on Jan. 1.
-- at Maryland, March 5
KEY MATCHUPS: It'll be a border-state rematch for Virginia's regular-season finale, as the Cavaliers look to avenge the humiliation Maryland gave them at home. In their last matchup, Virginia successfully stopped Maryland's leading scorer, sophomore F Jordan Williams, but let senior G Adrian Bowie score 22 points en route to a 66-42 loss. If the Cavaliers want to end the season with a win, they'll have to find a way to hold down Williams without letting the rest of the Terrapins burn them.
FUTURES MARKET: Virginia recruit Darion Atkins, a 6-foot-8 forward from the Landon School in Bethesda, Md., played the first of what Cavalier fans hope will be many games in the John Paul Jones Arena, as his team traveled down to face Richmond powerhouse Benedictine High. Atkins had 16 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks in his team's 57-55 loss.
-- Junior C Assane Sene scored 10 points Feb. 26 against Boston College, only the third time in his career he has scored in double figures.
"He made some nice plays early," Virginia coach Tony Bennet said. "When he bobbled the one and it when in, I thought this might be his night. He hasn't scored a ton for us, but he started out well and I was hoping we could have used him more."
-- Senior F Will Sherill played just five minutes against Boston College in his second game back after re-injuring his leg Feb. 5 against Miami.