NOTES: Home Game For State

NC State returns to action tonight against Jacksonville at 7:00 pm. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

Five Storylines
In NC State’s season opener vs. Jackson State, Ralston Turner surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career.

In Monday night’s game vs. Hofstra, the 6-5 senior struck for a career-best 24 points. Turner shot 8-for-15 from the floor against Hofstra and made five 3-pointers. Turner, in his fifth year after playing two seasons at LSU before coming to State, averaged 10.5 points per game last season.

After two games this season, one apparent strength for NC State is the team’s backcourt. Cat Barber and Trevor Lacey are averaging a combined 39.0 points and 13.0 rebounds with 16 assists and just three turnovers.

The duo combined for 47 points, eight assists and four steals in the Pack’s 93-68 victory over Jackson State. Barber poured in a career-high 25 points with six rebounds and six assists (and no turnovers). Lacey, making his NC State debut, scored 22 points (20 in the first half) on 8-for-10 shooting. That production continued vs. Hofstra with Barber posting a solid all-around game (15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) and Lacey having his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wolfpack is 180-68 all-time at PNC Arena. NC State went 12-6 at PNC last season and 17-1 there in 2012-13. Mark Gottfried owns a 39-13 record in the arena, which is the eighth-largest in all of college basketball.

Thursday night’s game will mark exactly 15 years and one day since NC State began playing at what is now PNC Arena. The first game there was Nov. 19, 1999, a 67-63 win for the Wolfpack over Georgia. That Georgia team was coached by Jim Harrick, a long-time mentor to Mark Gottfried dating back to the 1980s. That first season,NC State would win its first 14 games in what was known as the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena.

Mark Gottfried, in his fourth season at NC State, will be working toward mentoring his team into the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. The Wolfpack has made the Big Dance in each of his first three seasons, making Gottfried the first Pack coach and just the third in ACC history to achieve that feat. It marks the first time NC State had made three straight tournaments since 2004-06.

2-0 Wolfpack Hosts Jacksonville
The NC State men’s basketball team will aim for a 3-0 start for the third time in four years when it hosts the Jacksonville Dolphins Thursday night at 7 p.m. It’s the first meeting between the two schools since January 1969.

Count On Ralston To Get At Least One
Ralston Turner, a 6-5 fifth-year senior guard, was one of the top 3-point shooters in the ACC last season. He enters the season having made a 3-pointer in his last 20 games. That streak is the longest in the ACC.

More Long-Range Shooters
Ralston Turner, who shot 5-for-9 from 3-point range against Hofstra and was among the league leaders in treys made last season, is no longer NC State’s lone threat from beyond the arc. NC State appears to have more weapons on the perimeter this season.

Trevor Lacey and Cat Barber each made three 3-pointers against Jackson State as the Pack shot 8-for-20 from beyond the arc. Lacey was a .400 3-point shooter at Alabama and he buried 62 treys as a sophomore in 2012-13. Another formidable outside threat will be Caleb Martin, a 6-6 freshman who was 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the exhibition vs. Queens.

Ralston Passes 1,000
Fifth-year senior Ralston Turner passed the 1,000-point mark for his career on Friday. He enters Monday’s game with 1,029 career points, 410 of which have come at NCSU. Turner has made 344 field goals in his career (239 at NC State), 178 of them from 3-point range. He’s made 83 treys at NC State.

Heading into his sophomore season, Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber has taken the point guard keys for Mark Gottfried’s NC State Wolfpack vehicle.

Barber is driving that vehicle to averages of 20.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0assists per game with just one turnover. Barber, who averaged 8.5 points per game and started 18 times last season, is one of the quickest players in all of college basketball. Mark Gottfried has also called Barber “one of the best on-the-ball defenders I’ve coached.” Barber drew a team-best 16 charges last season.

Line Of Defense
This year’s Wolfpack team promises to be much quicker on defense. Mark Gottfried has said he expects to exploit that increased quickness to result in more ball pressure and full-court pressing. The Wolfpack nabbed eight steals while limiting Jackson State to .281 shooting.

It was the lowest opponent shooting percentage since last year’s Northwestern game, when NC State forced NU into .250 shooting. On Monday, the Pack held Hofstra to just .309 shooting while also blocking seven shots.

Board Work
Lennard Freeman was NC State’s leading returning rebounder but didn’t start on the greatest note in the season opener. He fouled out after grabbing just three boards. He picked it up in a big way on Monday, tying a career high wtih 13 rebounds. NC State’s coaches have challenged the 6-9 sophomore Kyle Washington to rebound more. He pulled in nine boards in 18 minutes of playing time vs. Jackson State, one rebound shy of his career high, which he set three times last season.

Length And (Less) Width
BeeJay Anya is one of the largest players in college basketball. He’s actually trimmed down considerably, having lost nearly 60 pounds since last season. But it’s his wingspan that sets him apart. He has a measured wingspan of 7-9, the longest wingspan recorded in the NBA Draft Express database for basketball prospects.

ACC's King Of Twitter
Last season, The Sporting News evaluated the prominent college basketball coaches related to their presence on Twitter. TSN named Mark Gottfried (@Mark_Gottfried) the ACC’s King of Twitter. As of this week, Gottfried has 33,335 followers. He ranks 13th among college coaches in Twitter followers.

As a team, the NC State Twitter account boasts 33,631 followers. That total ranks 15th in all of college basketball.

Speaker Series
Three influential and inspring speakers came to address the Wolfpack in the preseason. Nate McMillan came to campus at the end of September, Vinny Del Negro spoke to the team before Throwback with the Pack and General Raymond Odierno came to the Dail Center on Nov. 6.

Schedule Tough
Mark Gottfried will tell you last year’s tough schedule was the difference in NC State playing in the NCAA Tournament instead of the NIT. NC State’s 2013-14 schedule was ranked 21st toughest in the nation. Mark Gottfried has adopted a similar philosophy this season, scheduling nine teams who played in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

Coaching Brain Trust
Mark Gottfried has built one of the most experienced coaching staffs in all of college basketball. In addition to the third-year NC State coach, the Wolfpack are mentored by three other former head coaches.

Associate coach Bobby Lutz won 399 games as a head coach at Charlotte and Pfeiffer, Orlando Early was the head coach for five seasons at Louisiana-Monroe and Dereck Whittenburg ran the programs at Wagner and Fordham.

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