WOLFPACK STARTS HOME SWING VS. WINTHROP
The NC State men’s basketball team will welcome an unbeaten Winthrop team to PNC Arena Friday night at 7 p.m. The home contest is the first of three straight games at home for the Wolfpack, which is riding the momentum of a win over nationally-ranked LSU in Brooklyn.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. COMING HOME AFTER A MARQUEE WIN
NC State is bringing the momentum of a neutral-court win over a nationally-ranked opponent back home to PNC Arena for a stretch of home games. The Wolfpack’s overtime win over LSU in the Barclays Center is followed by three consecutive home games. Friday’s game against Winthrop is the start of a stretch that will see the Pack also host Michigan and Patriot League favorite Bucknell before final exams. Four of the Wolfpack’s next five games are at PNC Arena.
2. CAT’S CLASSIC
Cat Barber was named to the all-tournament team at the Legends Classic after leading the team to a 3-1 record in the event. Barber ran the Wolfpack in Brooklyn to the tune of 15 assists against three turnovers while averaging 21.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Barber made 24 of his 26 foul shots at the Barclay Center, including the final six free throws that put the LSU victory on ice. He also assisted on the Pack’s last field goal of the game, a game-changing, fast-break lay-up by Maverick Rowan. In his postgame comments, Mark Gottfried called his point guard’s play in Brooklyn “phenomenal.”
3. DOUBLE TROUBLE
While going up against freshman phenom Ben Simmons of LSU, it was the Martin twins who came out on top. Caleb and Cody Martin combined for 30 points and 19 rebounds, as Caleb Martin made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points while his older brother posted his first career double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). The twins also combined for seven assists and five steals while each played 37 minutes. Cody drew the primary responsibility of slowing down the 6-10 Simmons who totaled four points on 1-for-6 shooting before fouling out. With Simmons playing with four fouls in overtime, the Wolfpack isolated Cody Martin vs. Simmons, who committed his final foul when the Wolfpack twin attacked him on the offensive end.
4. 20 YEARS AGO TO THE DAY
Coincidentally, NC State and Winthrop met on the hardwood exactly 20 years before Friday’s game. The Wolfpack cruised past Winthrop 97-48 on Nov. 27, 1995 at Reynolds Coliseum. The Pack, which led by 25 at halftime, got 23 points and 10 rebounds from 1996 NBA Draft pick Todd Fuller and 20 points from Jason Sutton. NC State shot 13-for-28 from 3-point range that night, as Fuller made four long-range shots.
5. A ROTATION BUILT FOR MARCH
Under normal circumstances, a tourney-bound basketball team would pare down its rotation during the postseason. NC State hasn’t been afforded those normal circumstances. The Wolfpack is essentially playing a seven-player rotation. In the two games in Brooklyn this week, seven players played all 425 possible minutes (Shaun Kirk appeared for 0:06 of game time vs. Arizona State). NC State’s primary seven-player rotation has played 1,014 of the season’s 1,025 minutes (98.9 percent). Cat Barber is playing an ACC-leading 39.2 minutes per game, while Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan are each playing more than 33 minutes per game.
HENDERSON EXPECTED TO MISS 6-8 WEEKS
Terry Henderson, a redshirt junior from Raleigh who was projected as a starter for NC State this season, is expected to miss a minimum of 6-8 weeks after tearing ligaments in his right ankle in the season opener on Nov. 13. He suffered the setback just seven minutes into his Wolfpack career after sitting out the 2014-15 season as a transfer. He averaged 11.7 points per game as a sophomore at West Virginia in 2013-14.
HOME SWEET PNC
NC State, in its 16th season at PNC Arena, owns a 193-74 all-time record at the multi-purpose building in west Raleigh. Mark Gottfried owns a 54-18 mark at PNC Arena, which is the eighth-largest home court in all of college basketball.
OVERTIME IN NO TIME AT ALL
NC State’s overtime win over LSU came in no time at all. The 45-minute contest was played in a real-time mark of 2 hours, 2 minutes. It is believed to be the fastest-played overtime game in recent college basketball history.
THE ACC’S BEST FREE THROW SHOOTER
Cat Barber, an all-tourney team pick at the Legends Classic, is currently the best free throw shooter in the ACC. The 6-2 point guard leads the ACC with 47 made foul shots and he stands third in the league in free throw percentage. Barber was 24- for-26 at the line in the two games in Brooklyn.
Cat Barber nearly recorded a triple-double in the Pack’s win over South Alabama. Barber posted 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to go along with eight assists in the win. Barber, who is shooting just 7-for-27 from the floor, made 11 of his 12 foul shots in the game. There has only been one triple-double in NC State history (Julius Hodge, December 2002 vs. North Carolina A&T (11 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists).
CALEB’S ADJUSTMENT MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Caleb Martin came to NC State known as a deadly long-range shooter. However, he shot just .305 from 3-point range last season and less than 36 percent on all of his attempts. In the offseason, Martin tweaked his shooting form to be “quieter” and more straight-ahead. Specifially, he now keeps the ball more the the right and has removed a hitch from his motion.
The changes have paid off as he is leading the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (3.60) while shooting .439 from 3-point land.
MORE ON BIG CAT
While Anthony Barber is famously known as Cat, his mother, Pamela Barber, has always called him Big Cat. Barber, a second team preseason All-ACC pick, was the ‘Big Cat’ down the stretch for the Pack last season, averaging 14.6 points and 4.0 assists per game over the last 14 games of the season. Included in that run was a career-best performance of 34 points in the ACC second round against Pittsburgh.
BeeJay Anya, who led the ACC with 2.53 blocks per game last season, is one rejection away from second place on NC State’s all-time career blocks list. He swatted 91 shots last season, which was the second-highest total in NC State history. Anya has 149 blocked shots one shy of Kevin Thompson (1989-93) for second place in school history.
CODY SHAKES ILLNESS FOR BEST GAMES
Cody Martin sat out last Sunday’s practice in Brooklyn due to illness. he felt better Monday and was cleared to play against Arizona State, when he scored a season-high 10 points. He followed that with a new career highs of 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in the LSU victory. Cody Martin averaged 12.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two games in NYC.