NOTES: Pack, Heels Battle Tonight

NC State makes the short drive over to Chapel Hill today to battle rival North Carolina in a huge game for both teams. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm, and the game will be televised on ESPN.

• This is the 220th meeting between NC State and North Carolina.
• Thursday's game is a matchup of two of the top scoring teams in the ACC. State is averaging 76.9 points per game (3rd - ACC) and UNC is scoring 85.1 per game (1st - ACC).
• State is looking snap a 10-game skid to the Tar Heels.
• The Pack is off to a 4-1 start in ACC play for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
• The Pack is 2-0 on the road in ACC play this year, surpassing its league road record from a year ago. It's the most road wins by State since the 2005-06 season when it went 4-4 away from home.

• With four ACC wins, NC State is one shy of equaling its league total for all of last season.
• Mark Gottfried has never faced North Carolina as a head coach.
• Scott Wood is 48-of-48 from the line this year and has hit a school record 58 straight dating back to last year. He set the ACC all-time mark for consecutive free throws with a 7-for-7 day vs. Miami.
• Wood leads the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage (.453) and 3-pointers made (53, 2.8 per game). His streak of 17 consecutive games with a made three-pointer is the longest in the conference.
• Lorenzo Brown's 6.9 assists per game average is the highest for a Pack player since Chris Corchiani handed out 9.6 a game in 1991 to lead the nation.
• The Wolfpack's offensive output (76.9 ppg) trails only UNC and Duke among ACC teams.
• NC State's .750 free-throw percentage is second to Virginia Tech (.751) in the ACC.
• The Pack is only ACC program with five players listed among league's scoring leaders. Each player is averaging 11 points or better per game.
• The Pack's strength of schedule is 51st according to Collegerpi. com (as of 1/25/12) and its NCAA RPI is 55th.

This is NC State coach Mark Gottfried's first time coaching against the Tar Heels. He did face UNC in his first year as an assistant at UCLA. The Bruins fell to the Tar Heels, 80-73, at the Smith Center on Jan. 2, 1988.

The Tar Heels enter Thursday's game following a seven-day break since their last outing, a 82-68 win in Blacksburg over Virginia Tech. UNC is 4-1 over its last five games with the loss coming on the road at Florida State, 90-57, on Jan. 14.

North Carolina is led by Harrison Barnes, who is averaging 17.4 points per game (2nd - ACC). Along the front line, John Henson and Tyler Zeller are two of the nation's best big men with Henson averaging a double-double of 14.5 point per contest and 10.1 rebounds per game, while Zeller is posting averages of 14.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg.

The Heels will be without the services of guard Dexter Strickland, who tore his ACL in the victory over the Hokies. Before his injury, Strickland was averaging 7.2. points per game and 2.1 assists per game.

Twenty games into his inaugural campaign at NC State, Mark Gottfried has settled into a fairly steady rotation of eight players. In addition to usual starters Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, C.J. Leslie, C.J. Williams and Richard Howell, center DeShawn Painter, guard Alex Johnson and to a lesser extent, forward Thomas de Thaey make up the subsitution rotation.

The versatility of the Pack's individual players makes a smaller rotation workable, as Brown can move from point guard to shooting guard, Williams can play shooting guard or small forward and Howell can play both the four and five spots.

Playing a ranked North Carolina foe is not an uncommon event for NC State, as Thursday's meeting will be the 117th time NC State has faced a top-25 UNC squad. The Pack is 30-86 against the Tar Heels in those previous games.

NC State is definitely one of the most generous teams in the ACC this season when it comes to sharing the ball. Although the Pack ranks second in the league in assists per game with 17.4 (North Carolina leads with 18.4), Mark Gottfried's team leads the rest of the league by a large margin when it comes to number of assisted field goals made.

State has an assist on 347 of its 558 made shots this season - in other words, .622 of the team's shots come off a pass.

With a 4-1 mark in ACC play, a 2-0 mark against conference teams on the road and three straight league victories, NC State is posting some of its most successful numbers in recent years.

The Pack's 4-1 start in ACC play is its best in seven years, when the 2003-04 also started out with a 4-1 conference slate. If Mark Gottfried's team were to win at Chapel Hill on Thursday night, it will mark the first time since 1988-89 that the Pack has started with a 5-1 league mark.

With wins at Wake Forest and Miami under its belt, the Pack has also posted its best early record against ACC squads on the road since the 2001-02 squad started with a 3-0 mark in ACC road games.

And prior to the current three-game winning streak against league teams, the last time State has won three straight was in 2005-06 (that team won four consecutive league games).

Heading into the Wake Forest game on January 14, NC State's three-point field goal defense was literally one of the worst in the nation. Seventeen games into the season, the Wolfpack ranked 312th nationally in defending beyond the arc, as opponents were shooting .392 (123-314).

In the last three games, however, the Wolfpack has looked determined to turn that statistic around. In the wins over Wake Forest, Boston College and Miami, the opposition combined to shoot just .194 from three-point land.

One marked improvement on this year's version of the Wolfpack is its proficiency from the free throw line. After 20 games a year ago, the Pack was shooting .707 from the charity stripe, while this season, the Pack connecting at a .750 clip (the second-best mark in the ACC).

Free throw shooting obviously has a huge impact on the Pack's fortunes, as the squad is shooting .779 from the charity stripe in its 15 wins and just .657 in its five losses. State has gotten to the line 27 less times through 20 games this season, but has connected on just one less. All but one of the Pack's starters have increased their free show shooting this season.

With it's win at Miami at Sunday, the Pack picked up its second ACC road victory of the season and surpassed its total from last year. It's the most road wins by a Wolfpack squad since the 2005- 06 season when it finished the year 4-4.

At North Carolina last season, a pair of then-NC State freshmen had impressive games. Lorenzo Brown scored a season-best 20 points and also dished out seven assists. After going 0-for-5 in the first half and scoring just two points, Brown exploded in the second half for 18 points while shooting 8-of-11 from the field. C.J. Leslie also came off the bench that game, and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.

With his four made three-pointers against Miami, Scott Wood has now made 188 during his NC State career, putting him in sixth place in Wolfpack record books. He now needs nine to tie Lakista McCuller for fifth all-time in the program history.

Scott Wood is shooting 45 percent (53-of-117) from 3-point range this season. He leads the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage and is first in 3-point field goals made (2.8 made per game). In wins over Elon and Morehead State, Wood made five 3-pointers.

Wood's 17-game streak with a made 3 pointer is currently the longest active stretch in the ACC.

With his 7-for-7 performance against Miami, Scott Wood established a ACC record for consecutive free throws made, formerly held by Duke's J.J. Redick (54, 2003-04). He has now made 58 straight. Wood is 48-of-48 (1.000, 1st, ACC) from the line this year. His streak extends back to last season when he followed a missed attempt against Virginia Tech with two made free throws to end the game. Wood finished the 2010- 11 season hitting 10 straight from the line.

His 6-of-6 showing in the Maryland victory helped him surpass Rodney Monroe's previous NC State record of 43 consecutive made free throws set from 1990-91.

The NCAA record for consecutive free throws made in a season is 73 by Gary Buchanan of Villanova (Nov. 21, 2000-Feb. 12, 2001) over 21 games. The career mark is 85 by Butler's Darnell Archey, Butler (Feb. 21, 2001- Jan.18, 2003) over a 57-game span.

Lorenzo Brown not only is one of the best distributors of the ball in the ACC, but he also one of the league's top performers in several categories. His 6.9 assists per contest is the second best average in the league (7th nationally) and his 2.2 steals per game are third best in the ACC. Brown is also averaging 12.0 points per game (20th - ACC). His 2.4 assist/turnover ratio is third best among conference players.

Against Syracuse, Brown recorded a career-best 13 assists and notched his first career double-double with 10 points. In Thursday's 87-81 win over Campbell, Brown posted a career-high 24 points. His eight steals against UNC Asheville is tops among ACC players this season.

Lorenzo Brown ranks among the national leaders in assists with 6.9 per game, the second-best mark in the ACC. That tally is the highest for a Wolfpack player since 1991, when Chris Corchiani dished out 9.6 assists per game to lead the nation. In the 21 years since, no State player has averaged more than 4.6 assists per game for the season.

After 20 games, Brown has tallied 138 assists and is just 36 from posting one of the top 10 single-season marks in school history. He would become the first player since Corchiani to move onto the NC State single-season top-10 list.

C.J. Williams is one of the league's most improved players in terms of scoring. Last year, Williams averaged 4.7 points per game (ppg). This season he is averaging 12.0 ppg, a net improvement of +7.3 ppg.

Williams only trails Maryland's Terrell Stoglin (+9.8). Stoglin has improved his scoring from 11.4 ppg to 21.2 ppg. Williams is shooting a career-best 35 percent (21-of-60) from three-point range this season. His previous high for made threes is 16 as a freshman. As a sophomore and junior, Williams shot 22.9 and 22.2 percent, respectively, from behind the arc.

C.J. Leslie has also improved his shooting from the field, mainly to his improved shot selection. Last year through 20 games, he has taken 171 shots and was shooting .427. This season, Leslie has shot just 157, hitting at a .535 rate.

Over the last three games, DeShawn Painter has picked up his production off the bench, averaging 11.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 26.3 minutes per game. In 10 games prior, Painter was posting averages of 4.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 17.2 minutes.

It might've taken C.J. Williams 101 games (25 pts. vs. Syracuse) to score 500 career points, but he has already surpassed the 600-point plateau in just 108 career games.

Williams also made his 100th game in a Wolfpack uniform one to remember. The Fayetteville native went out and led the team to a win over North Carolina Central with a then career- and game-high 21 points. He also hit a career-best eight free throws on a career-high nine attempts.

Junior forward Richard Howell leads the Wolfpack in rebounding with an average of 9.4 boards per game.

He currently ranks second in the ACC in rebounding average behind UNC's John Henson (10.1 rpg).

Richard Howell has posted a trio of performances that rank him among the league's best this year.

Howell's 16 boards hauled down against Boston College are tied for the second most this season by an ACC player. His 17 rebounds against Campbell is tied for the best showing on the boards in the conference this year. Howell shares the mark with North Carolina's John Henson, who logged 17 boards against Wisconsin on Nov. 30.

His 85 percent (11-of-13) shooting display versus Morehead State is the second-best performance by a ACC player this season.

Richard Howell's career- and season-high streak of double-doubles ended at four. During stretch, he averaged 13.8 points and 13.8 rebounds over the streak.

If Howell had registered another double-double versus the Terps, he would have become the first State player since Kenny Carr in 1976-77 season, to log five straight double-doubles.

This season, Howell has a career-high seven double-doubles, giving him 10 during his tenure at NC State.

Pack Pride Top Stories