Winning Cures All?

Different types of devastating losses have confronted North Carolina State in a short period of time. There's only one thing that could help wipe away those disappointments.

Arch rival North Carolina will arrive right on cue Tuesday night, and it might take a season-changing performance for the Wolfpack to make things right. After losses to nationally-ranked Duke and Florida State, this will be the third matchup in six days in which N.C. State takes on a ranked opponent.

"We just proved to the world that we can play with teams like (Duke)," guard Scott Wood said. "We just have to do it every night."

And that's one of the issues facing the Wolfpack. The players have talked about letting the past results slide to the background because there's always another important game ahead. That's the approach coach Mark Gottfried is endorsing.

"We're going to hold our head high and get ready for the next game," Gottfried said.

No doubt, though, that Gottfried was frustrated by the Wolfpack's response two days after failing to hold a 20-point lead at Duke. That's because N.C. State never led in falling to visiting Florida State.

It might sound like a strange tonic, but a rivalry game against North Carolina ought to at least give something for the Wolfpack to look forward to.

"This group has to find a way to regenerate some energy," Gottfried said.

NOTES, QUOTES
Sophomore F C.J. Leslie has shown the ability to work through some tough times. He scored 21 points against Florida State, perhaps most important that some of his damage came in the first half. He was 5-of-8 from the field in the opening half, while the rest of the team shot 1-of-21 from the field.

"It's a team game, so everybody has to come out and play," Leslie said. "Our defense just wasn't there."

-- Coach Mark Gottfried said he was unaware of the details surrounding the ejection of former N.C. State standouts Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta from seats near the scorer's table in Saturday's loss to Florida State.

The ejections of the duo, who were attending the N.C. State home game as fans, drew considerable media attention. N.C. State administrators have been seeking answers about the specifics as well, and there's nothing quite like bringing attention to crowd issues prior to the annual visit of rival North Carolina, which shows up in Raleigh for Tuesday night's game.

-- The Wolfpack's efficiency on offense took a significant dip in the loss to Florida State. The 17 turnovers and 12 assists were out of kilter for a team had that been leading the ACC in assists per game. Five of the turnovers, though, belonged to F C.J. Leslie, who's not a primary ball handler.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14-3 -- The Wolfpack's record when leading at halftime, as it has trailed at the break in only nine games this season, though it couldn't hold a 16-point halftime edge at Duke.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We don't believe in excuses. We just weren't able to make shots (against Florida State)." -- G C.J. Williams, whose team made six first-half shots from the field in scoring 26 points against Florida State after a 46-point first half two days earlier at Duke.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. North Carolina, Feb. 21
KEY MATCHUPS:
The Wolfpack was overwhelmed in a 19-point road loss in late January to the Tar Heels, whose height with C Tyler Zeller and F John Henson can create issues for N.C. State's post players. The Wolfpack will want G Lorenzo Brown to neutralize G Kendall Marshall of the Tar Heels.

--at Clemson, Feb. 25
KEY MATCHUPS:
Wolfpack F C.J. Leslie will meet resistance in the lane from some athletic interior players for Clemson. N.C. State will aim to contain Clemson's guards and try to avoid allowing the Tigers to crank up their offense.

FUTURES MARKET: If the Wolfpack is looking for more help from reserves, it might have to look to freshman F Thomas de Thaey. He has shown signs of athleticism in the post, and that's an area that could give N.C. State a boost.

But it's taking time for de Thaey, who's from Belgium, to adjust, and his development was stunted in the fall while the Wolfpack waited for an eligibility issue to clear up. He has averaged about six minutes of playing time per game, and that's probably not enough to make him an impact player, but he seems to be the best bet outside of the top seven players to offer help this season.

PLAYER NOTES:
Senior G Alex Johnson, who was hitting key shots against Duke, couldn't keep it going against Florida State. Despite playing 18 minutes off the bench, he was 0-for-5 from the field and finished with two points.

-- Sophomore F C.J. Leslie's 21 points against Florida State matched a career high. The mark was originally set in Leslie's collegiate debut last season against Tennessee Tech.

-- F Richard Howell's foul troubles have resurfaced, as he has fouled out of consecutive games. He managed 11 rebounds in 29 minutes in the loss to Florida State. But despite grabbing seven first-half offensive rebounds, he didn't have a field goal during that stretch.


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