The NC State men’s basketball team will play three of its next four game on the road, starting with a noon contest Saturday, Jan. 31 at Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack has five of the last six meetings against the Yellow Jackets, including four straight.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. Facing The Toughest Schedule
According to ESPN.com’s Daily RPI, NC State has played the nation’s third-toughest schedule. The Wolfpack is halfway through the ACC portion of its schedule and its conference strength of schedule is ninth in the nation. The Pack has already played eight games against the current RPI top 50, highlighted by an 87-75 win over Duke back on Jan. 11.
Overall, the Wolfpack has three wins against top 60 teams and all nine of NC State’s losses are to teams in the top 85 of the RPI.
2. Wolfpack Success Against Yellow Jackets
Under Mark Gottfried, NC State is 4-1 against Georgia Tech. After losing his first meeting with the Yellow Jackets in 2012, Gottfried has coached the Pack to four straight wins against the Atlanta school. The Wolfpack captured a pair of 13-point wins against Georgia Tech during the 2012-13 season and also scored an 80-78 overtime win in the two teams’ only meeting last year. T.J. Warren’s runner with 6.2 seconds remaining was the difference, as the win over Georgia Tech was part of a three-game win streak that helped NC State gain momentum last season.
3. Pack Relies On Perimeter Players
It’s no secret NC State’s on-court success is driven by its perimeter players, primarily leading scorers Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner. In NCSU’s 13 wins this season, Lacey and Turner combine for 33.2 points per game on .474 field goal shooting and 8.9 rebounds per game. In nine losses, the duo combines for 25.0 points on .398 shooting and 6.7 rebounds.
4. Bouncing Back After Home Losses
In recent years, the Wolfpack has shown the ability to recover and win after a home loss. NC State is 7-3 in the game after a home loss since the start of last season, including a 3-1 mark this year. Following home losses this season, NC State has bounced back to defeat Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Florida State. Last season’s victories over Florida Gulf Coast, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and UNC Greensboro came after home losses as well.
5. Increased Post Production
One question for this year’s NC State squad has been finding the right combinations and match-ups for the team’s four post players. The Wolfpack bigs, led by Kyle Washington, have shown improvement. Washington has lifted his season scoring average to 7.6 points per game and has six double-digit scoring outings, including career bests of 17 points each vs. UNC-Chapel Hill and at Purdue.
Additionally, freshman Abdul-Malik Abu is averaging 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds over the last three games. Abu notched his first career double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in NC State’s game vs. Clemson.
BOUNCING BACK AFTER HOME ISN’T SWEET
NC State has a history of bouncing back and showing resiliency. The Wolfpack has a 6-4 record under Mark Gottfried in the game after a double-digit home loss. After a 2-3 mark in such games in 2011-12, the Wolfpack has won four of its last five games immediately after losing by 10 or more at home. Last year, NC State defeated Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Florida Gulf Coast immediately after a double-digit home loss. This season, NC State has captured a win in that situation over Pittsbugh on Jan. 3.
PASSING THE EYE TEST
While NC State has had some near misses against the nation’s top competition, there can be little doubt the Wolfpack fares well competitively against top-ranked teams. NC State is three possessions away from a 7-1 league record and three additional wins over RPI top 40 teams.
- In 81-79 loss to UNC: had tip-in attempt hit the rim with 0.2 seconds left that would’ve tied the game.
- In 65-60 loss at Miami: shot 3-pointer to take the lead with 43 seconds left.
- In 81-78 loss to Notre Dame: had ball with 71-69 lead with 15 seconds left.
TREVOR AMONG THE ACC’S BEST
Trevor Lacey’s play is critical to the Wolfpack on the court. As a result, his name is littered all over the ACC leadboards. Lacey currently ranks fifth in the league in scoring (16.5), fourth in 3-point percentage (.421), seventh in 3-pointers made (2.29), ninth in free throw percentage (.767) and fourth in minutes played (35.71).
NEED TREVOR TO SCORE
Trevor Lacey has produced seven outings with 20+ points, and NC State is 6-1 in those games. The only loss came on Dec. 20 to West Virginia, a game the Pack lost but got 24 points from Lacey. NC State owns a 4-2 record when Lacey makes seven or more field goals and 6-4 when he makes three or more 3-pointers.
Abdul-Malik Abu, known around the program simply as Malik, has shown great improvement in recent weeks. Abu posted his first career double-double in the Clemson game, totaling 15 points and 12 rebounds. He averaged 13.5 points per game in games vs. Miami and Notre Dame. He had a career night in NC State’s game at Miami, scoring 19 points on 9-for-14 shooting.
NC STATE AT HOME
The Wolfpack is 189-72 all-time at PNC Arena, including an 11-4 mark this season. NC State went 12-6 at PNC last season and 15-1 there in the 2012-13 season. Mark Gottfried owns a 50-17 record in the arena, which is the eighth-largest in all of college basketball.
NC State is second in the ACC with 5.64 blocks per game, trailing just Louisville. NCSU is led in this area by ACC blocks leader BeeJay Anya, who averages a league-best 2.68 rejections per game. The Pack has seven outings with seven or more blocked shots. NC State blocked 10 shots on Jan. 11 vs. Duke.
BEEJAY’S BLOCKS WATCH
With nine regular season games remaining, BeeJay Anya is already fourth on NC State’s single-season blocks chart with 59. He needs four more swats to tie Chuck Nevitt (1981-82) for third.
DEFENSE IN ACC GAMES
NC State ranks fifth in ACC play by holding league opponents to .414 shooting. Only North Carolina (.556) and Clemson (.472) shot better than 44 percent against the Pack.
TREVOR APPROACHING 1,000
Trevor Lacey enters Saturday’s game vs. Georgia Tech with 993 career points (646 of which came during two seasons at Alabama). Lacey has tallied 347 career points at NC State.
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 for a non-7-foot player in the NBA Draft Express database for basketball prospects. Only 7-6 Mamadou N’Ddiaye (UC-Irvine) has a longer listed wingspan.
Heading into this weekend, NC State has played seven games against teams currently included in ESPN.com’s latest bracket projection (Notre Dame, Miami, North Carolina, Wofford, Duke, Cincinnati, Virginia). The Wolfpack still has to play both UNC and UVa once more, as well as a road game at Louisville.