Mark Gottfried has brought a fast-paced, high energy offense to NC State as evidenced by the team's scoring numbers. The Wolfpack currently ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference and ranks 11th nationally in scoring with 79.6 points per game.
The Pack's offensive production has improved dramatically since Gottfried took over the program prior to last season. In 2010-11, the campaign prior to his arrival, State ranked 115th nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring with 70.7 point per game. Last year, his first season with the Wolfpack, the average was up slightly to 72.9 points per game - the nation's 59th-best mark at season's end.
The NC State single season record for points per game is 92.9, set in 1973. However, the Pack's current mark would rank as the highest in over 15 years (81.2 in 1996) if the season ended today. State has already scored at least 80 points in 11 contests this season - the highest total for a Wolfpack squad since 2005-06 (13).
Mark Gottfried is bringing top-level talent to Raleigh, as both of his recruiting classes have been ranked in the top-10 nationally. Last year, having just seven months till the fall signing period, Gottfried brought in the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation, including three McDonald's All-Americans.
It marked the first time the Wolfpack had three McDonald's All-Americans in the same class since 1979. Gottfried followed up with three more recruits signed in November and that class currently ranks ninth nationally.
Gottfried came to NC State with the reputation of being a first-class recruiter. In three of his final four seasons at Alabama, Gottfried's recruiting classes were nationally ranked: 10th in 2005, 27th in 2007, and 16th in 2008. In three of his final four seasons at Alabama, Gottfried's recruiting classes were nationally ranked: 10th in 2005, 27th in 2007, and 16th in 2008.
NC STATE VS. CLEMSON
Sunday's game is the first of two contests against the Tigers this season, marking only the third time in the last 10 years the two teams have played home-and-home games against each other.
NC State and Clemson are 2-2 against each other since the Pack took a 59-57 victory in the first round of the 2010 ACC Tournament, but the Tigers won five in a row from 2007 to 2010, their second longest winning streak in the series. The longest was a six-game streak from 1993-95.
The Wolfpack posted a 15-game winning streak from 1941 to 1956. The Pack has four other winning streaks of six games or more since the teams first played in Raleigh during the 1923- 24 season.
Through the years, NC State has had more success against the Tigers than any other charter member of the ACC, posting a 97-48 overall record (.669).
That is the second-highest winning percentage against any current member of the ACC, just behind a 35-14 mark (.714) against Virginia Tech, which joined the ACC for the 2004-05 season.
LAST TIME OUT VS. THE TIGERS
In its only overtime contest of the season, NC State fell at Clemson, 72-69, on Feb. 25, 2012, as the Tigers handed the Wolfpack its fourth consecutive defeat.
The tightly contested game saw the two teams exchange the lead 15 times and tie 16 times before the Tigers prevailed in the extra session. The Wolfpack held the statistical advantage in rebounding (36-32), points in the paint (36-28), second chance points (17-14), fast break points and field goal percentage (.500-.439). The difference in the game would come down to the free throw line, where the Tigers made the most of their chances, converting 76.2 (16-of-21) from the charity stripe, while the Pack connected on a season-low 38.5 (5-of-13) at the line, including a 1-for-4 performance in the final five minutes.
In the final minute of regulation, C.J. Leslie gave the Pack a 62-60 lead by converting two of the few free throws it made on the afternoon, but Clemson's Tanner Smith sent the game into overtime on with a pair from the line with 4.1 seconds left.
Lorenzo Brown gave NC State an early lead in overtime, 69-66, on two driving baskets. It would be the last points that the Pack would score as Clemson posted the next six including Andre Young's game winner with 11.5 left on the clock.
Leslie's 3-point attempt to force another overtime was off the mark on the game's final possession.
Leslie and Brown tied for game-high scoring honors with 18 points each and C.J. Williams added 16.
Following the loss, the Wolfpack won six of its next eight games to end the season, including the last two games of the regular season, two games in the ACC Tournament and two games in the NCAA Tournament.
THE CLEMSON CONNECTION
The NC State coaching staff has a Clemson connection via associate head coach Bobby Lutz.
After two years of coaching at western North Carolina high schools, Lutz became a graduate assistant for head coach Cliff Ellis in 1984 and spent two seasons with the Tigers, during which Clemson made to back-to-back National Invitation Tournament appearances.
Lutz also earned one of his five college degrees from Clemson. He earned bachelor's degrees in psychology and economics from UNC Charlotte in 1980, posting a 3.82 grade point average.
He then earned another bachelor's degree in 1981 secondary education from Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, N.C., a master's degree in teaching for secondary social studies from Winthrop in 1985 and a master's degree in education in administration and supervision from Clemson in 1986.
THE RACE TO 1,000
Senior Richard Howell and junior Lorenzo Brown are both 16 points shy of scoring their 1,000th career point. When and if both players reach that milestone, all four of the Wolfpack's upperclassmen will of the program's 1,000-point club.
Scott Wood scored his 1,000th point in last season's opening-round win over San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
Junior C.J. Leslie earned his place in the fraternity in the first half in NC State's win over Western Michigan on Dec. 29. He became the 46th player in NC State's storied basketball history to score his 1,000th point.
The last time NC State had three 1,000-point scorers on the same team was in 2008-09, with Brandon Costner (1,273), Ben McCauley (1,138) and Courtney Fells (1,060).
The 1982-83 squad also had a trio of 1,000 scorers led by Thurl Bailey (1,495), Dereck Whittenburg (1,272) and Sidney Lowe (1,048). That squad went on to win the national title. Only 10 previous times have a pair of players in the same recruiting class each scored 1,000 point during their careers, the last was the trio of Costner, Fells and McCauley. Howell and Wood would be the 11th and Brown and Leslie would be the 12th.
NC State turned in its lowest shooting performance of the season Wednesday in the one-point loss at Maryland, uncharacteristically connecting on just 31.1 percent of its shots. That was the lowest mark of the season and dropped the Pack from the national lead in field goal percentage to third place, as the Wolfpack is currently connecting at a .515 clip - hitting 492 of its 956 attempts.
In 14 of 17 contests this season, State has shot .500 or better, including a season best .614 in its season-opening victory over Miami of Ohio.
In its first three games against ACC competition, State hit .500 from the field.
The main common denominator in the Wolfpack three losses this season has been poor shooting.
State has shot .539 (419-777) in its 14 wins and just .408 (73-179) in its three losses. Another common factor in the three losses has been that all three occurred away from the friendly confines of the PNC Arena. In home games, State has shot .552, while connecting at just a .462 pace away from home. The Wolfpack posts a 10-0 home record this season.
Since the beginning of the ACC in 1953-54, the NC State men's basketball team has finished the season shooting over 50.0 percent from the field just five times. The Pack's current season total is 51.5 percent, while the school record is 52.1 set by the 1981-82 squad.
In 14 of the Pack's 17 games this season, NC State has shot over 50.0 percent in the game. The last time the Pack shot over 50.0 percent in that many games was during the 2006-07 season, when NC State shot 50.0 percent or better in 19 of the 36 contests.
NC State currently ranks 11th nationally in scoring, as the Pack is averaging 79.6 points per game. Mark Gottfried's team has eclipsed the 80-point mark in 11 of the 17 games this season, including eight of the last 10. The Pack has not averaged 80 points in a season since 1996 (81.2).
THE SELFISH SHARER
Junior point guard Lorenzo Brown was very giving in the Wolfpack's win over top-ranked Duke on Jan. 12. He was also extremely selfish.
Brown generously passed the ball to his teammates in that epic Wolfpack win - dishing out 13 assists to tie his career high in that category.
The oddest thing about that statistic is that Brown had every assist in the game. Nationally, only three times since 1996-97 has a team tallied more than 10 assists in a game with every one going to a single player. Brown ranks fourth in school history with 467 assists and is six away from third place. He had one other 13-assist game in his career. That one also came against the nation's No. 1 team, as he handed out a baker's dozen when top-ranked Syracuse visited the PNC Arena on Dec. 17, 2011.
A STRONG START
NC State's 78-73 victory over Boston College on Jan. 5 in Chestnut Hill, Mass., was the first time the Wolfpack opened ACC play with a road win since Dec. 4, 1997, when the Pack beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta, 71-69.
On Jan. 9, an 83-70 victory over Georgia Tech at PNC Arena gave the Wolfpack its first 2-0 record in league play for the first time since 2003-04, which is also the last time NC State had beaten a top-ranked Duke team prior to this past weekend. Last Saturday, Mark Gottfried and company sent top-ranked Duke packing, winning 84-76 to move to 3-0 in the league for the first time since 1988-89. That year, head coach Jim Valvano led State to its most recent regular-season league championship.
POINTS FOR ALL
NC State and Duke are the only two ACC teams with five or more players averaging in double figures. Only six other teams nationally have five or more double-digit scorers: Detroit, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Oregon and Oregon State. NC State is one of two programs nationally with five players averaging more than 11 points per game.
The Pack is led by junior C.J. Leslie with an average of 16.0 points per contest. Junior Lorenzo Brown is second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 ppg.
Senior Richard Howell is contributing 12.6 ppg, while freshman T.J. Warren is adding 11.6 and senior Scott Wood chips in 12.6 ppg.
The Wolfpack spreads its scoring responsibility around the lineup, with five different players leading the team in scoring more than once, Leslie leads the way with six times as the Pack's top scorer.