NOTES: Huge Game For State

NC State could earn an ACC Tournament bye with a victory this afternoon at Florida State. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

In his second season, the Pack has posted back-to-back 20+ win campaigns for the first time since 2005-06 and 2006-07. After posting 24 wins last season, the second-most for a Pack rookie head coach, and 22 wins so far this season, his 46 combined wins are the most in back-to-back years since 1987-88 and 1988-89 (46 wins).

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 is 12th nationally, in scoring with 78.1 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 points per game. Last year, his first with the Wolfpack, the average was up slightly to 72.9 points per game - the nation's 59th-best mark at season's end.

State has already scored at least 80 points in 18 contests this season - the highest total for a Wolfpack squad since 1990-91 (20 in 31 games).

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 and once again boasts a McDonald's All-American.

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.

Saturday's meeting will be the 50th all-time meeting between NC State and Florida State, in a series which dates back to 1955-56. The Pack holds a 28-21 edge in the series. The Seminoles are 11-7 against NC State in Tallahassee, with all of those contests in the Tucker Center. Since 1999-00, the Pack is 7-2 at FSU.

Freshman T.J. Warren had career highs in points (31) and rebounds (13) to lead the Wolfpack to an 84-66 victory Feb. 19 at PNC Arena.

Warren was one of three Pack players in double figures, as junior C.J. Leslie added 19 point and 10 rebounds and senior Scott Wood had 13 points.

The Pack owned the boards all night long, with a 45-21 rebounding advantage over the Seminoles. State's offensive rebounding total of 21 matched FSU's overall total.

The Pack jumped out to an early lead and never trailed, claiming a double-digit lead midway through the first half.

Two of NC State's top scoring performances by a freshman have come at the expense of Florida State.

In the first matchup between the two teams this season, an 84-66 win in Raleigh on Feb. 19, freshman T.J. Warren recorded his first career double-double, exploding for career highs of 31 points and 13 rebounds. He was 12-of-15 from the field, and a perfect 2-of-2 from three-point range as well as 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

The Seminoles must have had a case a déjà vu, as it wasn't the first time a current member of the Pack torched them for 31 points as a rookie.

Back in 2010, Scott Wood hit 7-of-11 three-pointers enroute to a career-high 31 points in helping the Pack to an 88-81 win in Tallahassee. The 31 points scored by both players ties as the third-most ever for a Pack freshman in a single game.

In the current RPI, NC State sits at No. 27. The Pack posts three wins against teams currently in the RPI top-50. The Pack currently holds the 32nd-toughest strength of schedule. In the current BPI rankings, the Pack is 20th, with the 14th-toughest schedule.

With a win at Florida State this weekend, NC State would clinch an opening-round bye in the upcoming ACC Tournament. A bye would be the Pack's first since 2006 when it entered as the fourth seed.

With a win, NC State would be the No. 3 seed if Duke wins at North Carolina on Saturday. The Pack would be the No. 4 seed with a win and the Tar Heels beating Duke.

NC State could also get a bye with a loss, if Virginia loses at home to Maryland on Sunday night. A NC State loss and UVA win would push the Pack back to the fifth seed.

Under first year head coach Mark Gottfried last season, the Pack won six of its final eight games of the season en route to a Sweet 16 appearance.

History seems to be repeating itself this year. NC State has won six of its last seven games, and sits at 11-6 in ACC play after starting out 5-5. The Pack has won three straight, and has won three in a row in ACC action three different times this year.

During this current stretch, balanced scoring has been a key, as the Pack's starting five are each averaging between 13.6-11.4 over the last seven games.

Head coach Mark Gottfried has had an impressive start to his NC State career.

With the win over Wake Forest on Wednesday, the Pack picked up its 22nd win of the season. After posting 24 wins last season, the Pack has back-to-back 20+ win seasons for the first time since 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Gottfried has now won more games in his first two seasons with the Pack (46) than any coach in school history with the exception of Everett Case (55) in 1947 and 1948.

Overall, the 46 combined wins over the last two seasons are the most in back-to-back years since 1987-88 and 1988-89 (46 wins). If the Pack picks up its 47th win at Florida State, it will be the most in back-to-back years since winning 48 in 1982 and 1983.

NC State has won three straight heading into the regular season finale at Florida State, and the play from two of the Pack's rookies has been a large factor.

In the last three games, forward T.J. Warren has been in the starting lineup and averaged 14.0 points, while guard Rodney Purvis has come off the bench and averaged 13.7 points.

The duo combined to shoot 35-of-59 (.593) from the field, including 5-of-10 from three point range.

Several NC State players continue their climbs in the NC State record books, and a pair of significant milestones are within reach. Richard Howell is just four rebounds away from becoming only the fifth player in school history to record 1,000 rebounds during his career. Howell will also become the fifth player in school history with 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

In last Sunday's win at Georgia Tech, Howell did become the school's all-time leader in career offensive rebounds, as now has 373. He broke the previous career mark of 370 set by Kevin Thompson (1990-93).

Scott Wood is close to establishing his second new school record. He is nine three-pointers away from tying Rodney Monroe's career mark of 322. Wood already has the school record for career starts, with 131 and counting.

Junior point guard Lorenzo Brown returned to action at Clemson on Feb. 10 after missing two starts and most of a third game with an ankle injury - all NC State losses.

Since returning from the injury, Brown has averaged 11.7 points, 7.4 assists and 35.4 minutes in the last seven games. The Pack has gone 6-1 in those contests.

Although he wasn't at full speed in his first game back at Clemson, Brown came off the bench and sparked the Pack's comeback win with 15 points and four assists in 32 minutes.

It was Brown driving to the basket and then dishing to Scott Wood in the corner that led to Wood's game-winning three-pointer with just 1.0 left on the clock in the 58-57 win.

Brown then returned to the starting lineup the next game, and played a career-high 42 minutes in the overtime win over Virginia Tech on Feb. 16, dishing out seven assists and chipping in 15 points.

Brown went down with the ankle injury midway through the first half at Virginia on Jan. 29, and missed the rest of that game and then the Pack's next two, against nationally ranked foes Miami and Duke.

The Miami contest on Feb. 2 contest marked the first game of Brown's career that he missed, breaking a string of 59 straight starts dating back to his freshman season. Over those two-plus games in Brown's absence, NC State went from averaging 79.7 points to 72.7 points, while assists were also down from 15.3 in the first 20 games to 11.0.

Freshman forward T.J. Warren was inserted into the Pack's starting lineup in the last five games, and the rookie has responded by posting the first two double-doubles of his career and averaging 16.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Warren had a monster night in the thrashing of Florida State, with 31 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes for his first career double dip. That point total was the third-highest ever by a Wolfpack freshman.

At UNC, he recorded his second straight double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

Warren ranks second among ACC freshmen, and 23rd overall, in scoring with 12.3 points per game. He has scored 20 or more points five times this season - more than any player on the Wolfpack squad. He leads the ACC in field goal percentage with a .613 mark, ranking 17th nationally.

NC State is currently second in the ACC and 12th nationally in scoring at 78.1 points per game. The Pack is one of six teams nationally with five double-figure scorers, so it's probably safe to say that the offense is the driving force behind State's success.

In the Pack's 22 wins, Mark Gottfried's squad is averaging 81.7 points per game while shooting 51.2 percent from the field. In those 22 wins, NC State has been held under 70 points only twice.

However, when the Pack's offense has stalled, the results have not been positive. In its eight losses, NC State averaged just 68.1 points per game, shooting 45.1 percent from the floor. In four of those eight games, NC State was held under 70 points.

It has been almost four decades since an NC State basketball player had more double-doubles than senior Richard Howell has posted in 2012-13. Howell leads the ACC with 16 double-doubles on the season, and also a league-best nine in conference play. Howell's season mark ranks sixth nationally, and he is just one of five BCS players to average a double-double in conference play this year. Not since Tommy Burleson had 26 in 1973-74 has a Pack player posted a higher total.

Howell had posted double-digit point and rebound totals in 15 of the last 25 outings. SHOULDA, WOOD-A, COULDA
Senior Scott Wood now has 313 career 3-pointers for the Wolfpack, which leads all active ACC players by over 100 and ranks eighth in league history. He ranks second in NC State history behind Wolfpack career-scoring leader Rodney Monroe's 322 career treys.

Wood is one of just 10 players in ACC history to hit 300 or more 3-point baskets since the bonus shot was introduced experimentally for the 1982-83 season and permanently in 1986-87.

He is just nine makes away from tying Monroe's school record. Over the last two seasons, he has hit at least one three-pointer in 61-of-65 games, and at least two in 50-of-65 games.

All four of the Pack's upperclassmen are climbing up the charts in the ACC and NC State record books in various categories:
• Scott Wood set a new NC State record for career starts with his 126th on Feb. 16 vs. Virginia Tech. He broke the record set by Julius Hodge, and now has 131 for his career.

• Wood now ranks eighth in ACC history - second in NC State history - in career three-point field goals made with 313.

• Richard Howell now ranks fifth in school history in career rebounds with 996.

• Lorenzo Brown is only the third player in NC State history with 500+ career assists (Chris Corchiani & Sidney Lowe). He now has 546.

• C.J. Leslie moved into fifth place in school history for career blocks, he now has 129 for his career.

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