JOHNSON: Pack Ready for Rematch

GREENSBORO, NC -- NC State lost its point guard, and a key ACC game, in Charlottesville earlier this year but has an opportunity to redeem itself on Friday against Virginia.

NC State's last contest with Virginia was not a day Mark Gottfried and his team remember fondly.

"Calvin didn't practice the day before, he didn't come to shootaround," Gottfried said. "I wasn't sure he was going to play, but he fought through it and played and he was under the weather and Lorenzo sprained his ankle about the 9 minute mark so that was a tough day for us."

The Wolfpack had one of its worst offensive performances of the season that night, scoring just 55 points and shooting just 38 percent on its two-point attempts. Leslie, despite the illness that kept him out of the starting line-up, came off the bench to score 20 points and grab 14 rebounds, but he also committed seven turnovers as the offense ground to a halt without Brown.

"It's going to be a very physical game," Leslie said. "The last game was sick. I look forward to playing a lot better."

The Pack actually held a 12-7 lead when Lorenzo Brown went down with an ankle injury about nine minutes into the game. Brown would miss the rest of the game and the next two – both losses against the top two teams in the league – before returning to action. Brown, who said he still isn't back to 100 percent, showed off his often-forgotten defensive prowess by shutting down Erick Green.

"They told me people were saying I couldn't play good defense," Brown said. "It was kind of good that we were playing Virginia Tech tonight because they have the leading scorer. It was the perfect time to try and contain him the best that I could."

Virginia, for its part, finds itself in the same situation as the Pack a year ago. Last year, in Atlanta, the Pack desperately needed a resume-building win over Virginia to help its NCAA tournament chances. This season it's the Cavaliers sitting on the bubble needing another win to feel safe.

Virginia has dug itself into a hole since its home win over Duke two weeks ago. The Cavs lost back-to-back road games at Boston College and Florida State, then needed overtime at home to down Maryland and stay out of the Thursday games. Gottfried, however, doesn't buy that logic and believes that regardless of Friday's outcome the Cavs will be dancing.

"I think we're a NCAA Tournament team and I think Virginia is," Gottfried said. "I think they deserve to be in the tournament. Last year we really needed to turn the perception probably more than Virginia does right now... for us every opportunity we had was life or death. I don't think they are in that situation. I really don't."

Much like on Thursday, the key for the Pack will be stopping an All-ACC guard in Virginia's Joe Harris. He scored 22 points in the first match-up of the season – but most of that came without Brown in the line-up and with T.J. Warren trying to keep up with the veteran on the perimeter.

If the Pack can repeat its defensive pressure from Thursday – using turnovers to fuel its transition game – then the Pack has a good chance of surviving and advancing to another day.


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