A pair of 3-0 teams will do battle Sunday afternoon when the NC State men’s basketball team hosts South Florida at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
The Starting 5
1. FIRST 4-0 START A win Sunday afternoon would lift the Wolfpack to a 4-0 start, the first such start under Mark Gottfried. NC State was last 4-0 to start a season back in 2009-10, when the Wolfpack started 5-0. That team ended up 20-16 and in the NIT. A win would also give NC State its sixth four-game winning streak under Gottfried. A recent notable 4-0 stretch came last March, when the Pack won its last two reg ular season games and its first two in the ACC Tournament.
2.OPPONENTS FEELING REJECTED
Led by BeeJay Anya’s school-record 10 rejections, NC State recorded 14 blocked shots in Thursday’s 79-43 win over Jacksonville. The Wolfpack, which only allowed 13 made field goals while blocking those 14 shots, currently lea ds the ACC in blocked shots (9.33 per game). Anya leads the conference with 14 swats, and no other ACC player has more than nine.
3. NC STATE AT HOME
The Wolfpack is 181-68 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 40-13 record in the arena, which is the eighth-largest in all of college basketball.
4. NC STATE’S BACKCOURT HOLDING COURT
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 30.6 points and 12.7 rebounds with 22 assists and just nine 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 ass ists (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.
Ralston Turner also got into the act, scoring a career-high 24 points in the win over Hofstra.
5. 3 SEASONS, 3 NCAAS
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.
JUST LIKE FOOTBALL
Against South Florida, NC State will be aiming to duplicate the Wolfpack football team’s performance against the Bulls. Dave Doeren’s Wolfpack went to Tampa and routed USF 49-17 back on Sept. 13.
USUALLY RALSTON GETS 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 recently had a streak of 20 consecutive games with at least one made 3-pointer, which led the ACC.
That streak was snapped when Turner went 0-for-4 vs. Jacksonville.
NC State has defensively smothered its first three opponents, holding teams to .277 shooting and 12.7 turnovers per game while leading the ACC in blocked shots. The Wolfpack has held Jackson State and Jacksonville to worse than 30 percent shooting, and Hofstra shot just .309. JU shot just .232 against the Pack, the lowest field goal percentage for an opponent since Jan. 9, 2008 vs. NC Central (.203).
CALEB MARTIN’S BREAKOUT
Caleb Martin made a splash in NC State’s exhibition win over Queens, scoring 16 points and making four 3-pointers. The freshman was quiet in the first two regular season games but broke out vs. Jacksonville.
The 6-6 freshman scored 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting in 21 minutes off the bench and also had a highlight blocked shot on a JU fast break.
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 scored 15 points vs. Jacksonville.