PACK GOES TO FLORIDA LOOKING FOR ROAD WIN
Following a week off for final exams at NC State, the Wolfpack men’s basketball team heads to South Florida Sunday, Dec. 13. The two teams met in Raleigh last season, with the Pack claiming a 68-65 decision.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION
The Wolfpack is averaging nearly 80 points per game this season, and it reached rare heights on the offensive end of the floor in last week’s 99-86 victory over Bucknell. The Wolfpack’s 99-point output was the team’s most under Gottfried and the highest point total in a game since the Pack beat ECU 100-66 in 2004. State shot .544 from the floor, the team’s highest mark since shooting .556 last season against West Virginia in Madison Square Garden. Individually, the win featured three Wolfpackers (Cat Barber, Maverick Rowan, Caleb Martin) scoring 20 points or more. It was the first time three NC State players scored 20 or more points in the same game since 1990.
2. CAT GETTING TO THE LINE AT A RECORD RATE
Using his quickness and ballhandling, Cat Barber has found his way to the free throw line at a record rate. He ranks third in the nation with 89 foul shot attempts, and is on pace to break the school record for free throw attempts in a season (355 by Mel Thompson in 1954). Additionally, he draws 8.5 fouls per game, which ranks 15th in the nation and third among players playing in Power 5 conferences. NC State is 5-1 when Barber, who averages 11.1 free throw attempts per game, shoots 10 or more free throws.
3. RETURN GAME
Sunday’s contest is the second half of a home-and-home series between the Wolfpack and the Bulls. As part of the Global Sports Invitational last season, NC State downed South Florida 68-65 in Raleigh last November. Cat Barber scored 10 points and BeeJay Anya totaled eight points, nine rebounds and six blocks to lead NC State, which led 65-56 with 2:11 left before the Bulls made a late push.
4. CALEB AND MAVERICK MAKING ALL THE TREYS
Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan are among this season’s most prolific 3-point shooters in the ACC. In fact, the young wing players have been the team’s complete attack on the perimeter, combining to make all 46 of the team’s 3-point shots. Martin stands second in the ACC with 3.38 made 3-pointers per game and Rowan is tied for seventh in the league with 2.38 per game As a team, NC State takes 27.6 percent of its total shots from 3-point range (315th highest in the nation).
5. POST PLAYER SHUFFLE
Mark Gottfried has said multiple times this season NC State will need more production out of post players, Lennard Freeman, BeeJay Anya and Abdul-Malik Abu. In the Bucknell win, Gottfried inserted Anya into the starting lineup in place of Freeman. Coming off the bench resulted in Freeman’s best performance of the season, his first double-double of the season where he tied his career high of 13 rebounds. Abu shook a mini-slump and produced 11 points and nine rebounds against Bucknell.
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.
SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE ON THE PERIMETER
NC State has seen several players find a hot hand this season, and the result has been the Pack ranking 277th in the nation in 3-point field goal defense (.373). Sunday’s game at USF, statistically, figures to help the Wolfpack improve in that area. The Bulls shoot just .232 from 3-point range on the year, which is the worst percentage in the nation. USF doesn’t have a single player shooting better than .278 from long range this season.
A ROTATION BUILT FOR POSTSEASON - ALREADY
It’s not uncommon for a team to tighten its rotation at the end of the season, as conference and national tournaments approach. NC State, however, has been forced to go with a condensed lineup, playing essentially a seven-player rotation. State’s seven main players have played 1,606 of the team’s possible 1,625 minutes (98.83%).
CAT GETTING TO THE LINE
Cat Barber has already taken 89 foul shots this season, ranking third in the nation.
ROLLIN’ ON 20s
Maverick Rowan scored a career-high 27 points last weekend, with Cat Barber getting 24 and Caleb Martin adding 21. It was the first time three Wolfpackers scored 20 points in the same game since Nov. 28, 1990 when Chris Corchiani (36 points), Rodney Monroe (25) and Bryant Feggins (23) did so in a 135-88 win over Charleston Southern.
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 and less than 36 percent on all of his attempts last season. 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 second in the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (3.38) while shooting .415 from 3-point land.
BeeJay Anya, the current ACC leader with 2.75 blocks per game, has moved into second place on NC State’s all-time career blocks list. He enters Sunday with 159 career blocked shots, 47 short of the school record held by Thurl Bailey (1979-83). He swatted 91 shots last season, which was the second-highest total in NC State history. He is also the ACC’s active leader in blocked shots, one ahead of Clemson’s Landry Nnoko.