The NC State men’s basketball team welcomes Tennessee to PNC Arena Wednesday, Dec. 17 for a nationally-televised contest at 7 p.m. The Wolfpack defeated the Volunteers in Knoxville last season, a key road win that helped the Pack into the 2014 NCAA Tournament
THE STARTING FIVE
1.‘GOTT’ History With Tennessee
Mark Gottfried is certainly familiar with the Tennessee Volunteers, having fashioned a 16-6 combined record against Tennessee as both a player and head coach.
He was 9-5 against UT as coach at Alabama after winning six of seven vs. Tennessee as an Alabama player (1984-87). Gottfried captured two important wins over Tennessee when UT was highly-ranked. His Bama squad beat No. 7 Tennessee 80-75 on Feb. 26, 2000. When Bruce Pearl had Tennessee ranked No. 8, Gottfried defeated the Vols 92-79 in Tuscaloosa. Gottfried had a 6-0 record vs. Tennessee when UT was coached by Buzz Peterson. Last season, Gottfried’s team won 65-58 in Knoxville, a key road win that bolstered NC State’s tournament profile in March.
2. #TLACEY Bounced Back
NC State’s leading scorer, Trevor Lacey, missed last Friday’s game vs. Charleston Southern with an ankle injury. He returned two days later vs. Wofford and scored 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting, with many of those shots being con tested. He came less than a tenth of a second from finishing wit h 21 points and a game-winning buzzer beater in the wild finish last Sunday vs. Wofford.
3. ACC Freshman Of The Week
Caleb Martin, a 6-6 freshman from Mocksville, N.C., was voted ACC Freshman of the Week after a career-best outing last Friday night. Martin posted career highs of 17 points and seven rebounds in NC State’s 86-50 win over Charleston Southern. For the week, Martin averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in two games.
4. Opponents Feeling Rejected
NC State is among the national leaders in blocked shots. The Wolfpack is currently first in the ACC and sixth in the nation with 6.90 blocked shots per game.
NCSU is led in this area by BeeJay Anya, who stands fourth in the country with 3.7 blocks per game. Earlier this season, Anya set a school record with 10 rejections in the Pack’s win over Jacksonville. The Pack blocked 14 shots in that game and have six additional outings with six or more blocks.
5. Taking Care Of The Ball NC State is fifth in the ACC committing just 10.9 turnovers per contest. What’s more is that the Wolfpack ranks 23rd in the nation in turnover percentage (16.2%). That means NC State turns the ball over roughly once in every six possessions. That 16.2 percent mark ranks third in the ACC (behind Duke and Notre Dame).
WOLFPACK GUARD PLAY
Cat Barber, Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner are the team’s leading scorers, with the trio combining to score 41.9 points per game. Each player has at least one game with 23 points or more. Lacey scored a career-high 26 points vs. Richmond and 22 vs. Jackson State. Barber poured in a career-high 25 points with six rebounds and six assists against Jackson State. Turner went for a career-high 24 vs. Hofstra and 23 against Richmond. Barber and Lacey are also the team’s primary ballhandlers.
TREVOR AND RALSTON VS. TENNESSEE
NC State’s two top scorers, Trevor Lacey (Alabama) and Ralston Turner (LSU), are transfers from the SEC who are familiar with UT. Wednesday will be Lacey’s fifth game vs. Tennessee and Turner’s third : Lacey vs. Tennessee (4 games, 12.5 ppg, 3.5 rebounds, 15-for-43 FG, 6-for-17 3FG) Turner vs. Tennessee (2 games, 4.5 ppg, 2.0 rebounds, 3-for-9 FG, 2-for-5 3FG) TREVOR’S LAST 5 GAMES Dating back to his career-best game in NC State’s win over Richmond, Trevor Lacey has been hot in the last five games in which he’s played. Lacey is averaging 17.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting .596 from the floor. He has shot better than 50 percent in each of those five games.
TENNESSEE IN PNC ARENA
Although Tennessee has a new coach and an overhauled roster, the Volunteers recently played in PNC Arena. The Volunteers played in Raleigh during last year’s NCAA Tournament and defeated UMass (86-67) and Mercer (83-63) on the way to a Sweet 16 appearance.
3 SEASONS, 3 NCAA TRIPS
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 fourth in ACC history to achieve that feat. It marks the first time NC State had made three straight tournament s since 2004-06.
NC STATE AT HOME
The Wolfpack is 185-68 all-time at PNC Arena. NC State went 12-6 at PNC last season and 15-1 there in the 2012-13 season. Mark Gottfried owns a 46-13 record in the arena, which is the eighth-largest in all of college basketball.
GUARDING THE ARC
NC State is among the nation’s best in guarding against the 3-point shot. The Wolfpack stands seventh in the ACC and 36th in the country by holding opponents to .287 from beyond the arc.
CAT GETTING TO THE LINE
Cat Barber has shot 61 foul shots this season, averaging 6.1 FT attempts per game. That mark is third in the ACC. Overall, Barber is second in the ACC in free throw attempts per game.
The Wolfpack is currently 10th in the nation in effective FG defense (.403) and sixth in the country in blocked shots (6.90).
The Pack has held five of its opponents to worse than 35 percent shooting. Jacksonville shot just .232 against the Pack, the lowest field goal percentage for an opponent since Jan. 9, 2008 vs. NC Central (.203). NC State blocked 14 Jacksonville shots while allowing just 13 made baskets.
NC State shot .553 from the floor vs. Wake, the first time it has shot 55% in a game since a .582 mark vs. ECU on 12/21/13. The last ACC game with 55% shooting came on 2/27/13, when the Pack shot .559 in a win over Boston College.
WINNING THE TRANSFER GAME
While hundreds of players transfer schools each spring in college basketball, few coaches have been able to capitalize on that better than Mark Gottfried.
His first squad at NCSU included transfer Alex Johnson (CSU Bakersfield), a key component in the team’s 2012 Sweet 16 run. Next came Ralston Turner (LSU), a double-digit scorer and starting wing player. Trevor Lacey (Alabama) is currently NC State’s on-court leader and leading scorer.
Currently sitting out is Terry Henderson (West Virginia), a long-
LENNARD DOING HIS THING
Lennard Freeman has quietly been one of NC State’s most productive players. Freeman ranks 10th in the ACC with 8.2 rebounds per game. He pulled in 13 rebounds vs. Hofstra, had a double-double vs. Jacksonville (10 pts, 12 rebs) and then grabbed 10 boards against USF.
NC State is much improved on the glass. NC State ranked 326th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage (64.3%) last season. That number has improved to 74.5%, which ranks 41st in the country.
NC State is currently third in the ACC in total rebounds per game (43.3), trailing just Louisville and UNC. The Wolfpack is fifth in the ACC in rebounding margin.