A Golden Opportunity

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- N.C. State came tantalizingly close to getting the marquee win it needed to build up its NCAA Tournament resume at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse on Feb. 15. On Friday, the Wolfpack will get a chance to redeem itself.

N.C. State came tantalizingly close to getting the marquee win it needed to build up its NCAA Tournament resume at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse on Feb. 15. On Friday, the Wolfpack will get a chance to redeem itself.

After using a late run against Miami on Thursday to book its spot in the quarterfinals, the Pack will once again face a team that features a stifling zone defense with much on the line. This time, State will have fans on its side.

"It is going to be huge," N.C. State freshman forward Kyle Washington said. "When we were out there and we were going on a run, we got so hyped. That is excited. It is exciting to be back in Greensboro and feel like you are back in Raleigh."

N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried spoke to the media after the Pack's win over Miami on Thursday and recalled how close his team came to pulling off a major upset. However Gottfried, who reached the 20 win plateau for the third time in his three seasons at N.C. State, was also leery of the threat the Orange pose, particularly at full strength.

"First of all, they are really a great team," Gottfried said. "They spent more weeks at No. 1 than anybody else in the country. We played well up there, but we let one get away. We were in a position to win and we did not close it out."

"I think with Jerami Grant back now, they're playing with great confidence and they're really good," Gottfried added. "The only time they really have not been good has been when he was out. I think our guys will be excited about it."

The Wolfpack, buoyed by the sensational play of ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren, have won three straight do-or-die games after a home loss to Miami less than two weeks ago.

In its victory in the rematch against the Hurricanes on Thursday, Warren's play was complemented by junior guard Ralston Turner, who finished with 22 points. The transfer from LSU posted 16 points in the first half of State's victory over the Canes in Coral Gables on Feb. 8.

"T.J. is a great player," Gottfried said. "We all know it. Our players know T.J. is a great player, but he needs other people to score. Ralston stepped up. It is so great to see young guys step up."

Tip off for the quarterfinal matchup between the Pack and the Orange is set for 7 p.m. on Friday. If State can move on they will face the Duke/Clemson winner in the second semifinal on Saturday, but first they have to deal with Syracuse.

"It's not about payback," said Gottfried. "It's about opportunity. And we've got an opportunity that is golden. Couldn't ask for a better one."


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