WOLFPACK FACES TEST AT MISSOURI
NC State takes a three-game win streak on the road this weekend when it plays at Missouri Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. ET (5 CT). The Wolfpack has won five of its last six games, including a 76-63 win on Wednesday that featured a Cat Barber 3-pointer at the buzzer.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. THE CENTURY ‘MARK’
Mark Gottfried has now won 99 games in his first 154 contests at NC State. A win Saturday at Missouri would make him the second-fastest Wolfpack coach to 100 wins in school history. The legendary Everett Case reached 100 wins at NC State in just 120 games. Jim Valvano reached the mark in 156 games, meaning one win in either of the next two games would tie Gottfried with Valvano for the school’s second-fastest to 100 Wolfpack victories.
2. BIG SHOT BY BIG CAT
Cat Barber, known to his mother back in Virginia as Big Cat, made a big shot in NC State’s 76-73 win over High Point on Wednesday night. With the game tied at 73, with 13.3 seconds remaining, NC State came out of a timeout and went to Barber. He drove left, briefly collided with teammate Caleb Martin, regained composure and created space against his defender. His fallaway 3-pointer from the left wing fell through the net as time expired and gave NC State a win over the Big South Conference’s preseason favorite. The game-winning trey was his third of the game and was the No. 2 play on Thursday’s ESPN Sportscenter.
3. DELAYED RETURN GAME
Saturday’s contest in Columbia is the second half of a home-and-home series between the Wolfpack and the Tigers. Missouri, ranked 25th at the time, came to PNC Arena two years ago and edged the Pack 68-64. The two teams planned on playing last December but a date could not be found that was agreeable to both schools, which then delayed the Pack’s return game to this season.
4. PACK’S POST PRODUCTION
NC State has been led by perimeter players Cat Barber, Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan, but increased production from State’s post players could be the key to the Pack’s success. Lennard Freeman, BeeJay Anya and Abdul-Malik Abu have each had their best moments over the last three games. In the Bucknell win, Freeman recorded a double-double (10 points,13 rebounds). Against South Florida, Abu had a double-double that featured a career-best 14 rebounds and dunked four times. He then totaled 13 points and nine rebounds against High Point. Anya had perhaps his finest outing as a Wolfpacker at USF, totaling a career-high 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting with seven rebounds and five blocks.
5. SUCCESS AGAINST HIS OLD LEAGUE
Mark Gottfried coached 341 games at SEC school Alabama, and he has found success against his old conference during his time at NC State. The Wolfpack is 4-2 against SEC opponents since 2011. Gottfried’s NC State teams own a pair of wins over Tennessee and a pair of wins over LSU, including a win in last year’s NCAA Tournament. His SEC losses while at NC State are the 2013 loss to Missouri and a neutral-court loss to Vanderbilt in 2011.
CALEB, MAVERICK FROM LONG RANGE
Caleb Martin, much improved after shooting .305 from 3-point range last year, is currently third in the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (2.80). In the offseason, Martin tweaked his shooting form to keep the ball more to the right and has removed a hitch from his motion. Freshman Maverick Rowan has been the Pack’s other long-range threat, standing seventh in the ACC with 2.30 made treys per game. Martin has made four 3-pointers in a game four times this season and Rowan has done it three times.
CAT TAKING AIM
In addition to the outside shooting of Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan, Cat Barber has recently realized he needs to be a threat from the outside. In the last two games, Barber is 4-for-10 from long range. He was 0-for-9 in the season’s first eight games.
BEEJAY PUTTING THE BALL IN THE BASKET
If BeeJay Anya can make three buckets per game this season, he could put himself in the NC State record book. Mostly finishing near the rim, the 6-9 Anya is shooting .742 on the season, which would shatter NCSU’s single-season field goal percentage record (Kevin Thompson, .624). Anya is making 2.3 field goals per game and shot .610 from the floor last 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 2,002 of the team’s possible 2,025 minutes (98.86%).
Cat Barber, playing in his 82nd game as a Wolfpacker, has 942 career points. He is 58 points away from becoming the 49th player to score 1,000 points in an NC State uniform. Barber is averaging 11.6 points per game for his career.
BALLIN’ AGAINST BUCKNELL
The Wolfpack reached rare heights on the offensive end of the floor in the 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 also shot a season-high .544 from the floor.
ROLLIN’ ON 20s
Maverick Rowan scoreda career-high 27 points against Bucknell, 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.
PACK COACHES TO 100 WINS
Mark Gottfried is closing in on 100 wins as NCSU’s head coach.
BeeJay Anya, the current ACC leader with 3.10 blocks per game, stands second on NC State’s all-time career blocks list. He enters Wednesday with 168 career blocked shots, 38 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, three ahead of Clemson’s Landry Nnoko.