PACK BRINGS IN MOMENTUM
NC State, which has won four straight and six of its last seven, will host UNC Greensboro Tuesday, Dec. 22 at PNC Arena. The Wolfpack, 9-0 all-time vs. UNCG, is coming off a resounding road win at Missouri.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. REACHING THE CENTURY ‘MARK’
NC State’s victory at Missouri was win No. 100 at NC State for Mark Gottfried. The coach reached the mark in 155 games, making 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 Gottfried reached 100 wins one game faster than Valvano.
2. BIG CAT IS BIG TIME
There aren’t many players in college basketball performing at a higher level than Cat Barber right now. The 6-2 junior is currently leading the ACC in scoring (22.2 ppg) and is second in the league in assists (5.6 apg). The blazing-fast Barber has driven to the rim enough to rank second in the country in both free throws made (100) and attempted (116). He’s also grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game while playing a league-high 38.1 minutes per game. Barber, a second team preseason All-ACC pick, scored 33 points in the win at Missouri on Saturday and also boasts a 37-point effort against Winthrop earlier this season. Barber scored 26 points and hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer against High Point last week. For his efforts, Barber was voted ACC Co-Player of the week, sharing the honor with Brice Johnson of UNC Chapel Hill.
3. SUCCESS AGAINST NON-CONFERENCE IN-STATE OPPONENTS
Since Mark Gottfried’s arrival in 2011, NC State has dominated against non-conference opponents from the state of North Carolina. The Wolfpack is 11-1 against in-state non-ACC teams under Gottfried, including two wins over UNC Greensboro. The Pack beat UNCG 89-68 on New Year’s Eve in 2012 and then won 68-63 at Greensboro Coliseum in 2013. The lone loss was a 2013 overtime game against NC Central, a game in which the visiting team set a team arena record for free throws made (41).
4. NEED MORE FROM ABU, WE GOT MORE FROM ABU
After a mini-slump that saw him score just two points against Winthrop and Michigan, Mark Gottfried publicly said the team needed more from Abdul-Malik Abu. The 6-8 sophomore has risen to the challenge, flirting with double-doubles in each of the last four games. Abu, NC State’s leading rebounder, had a double-double against USF (11 points, 14 rebounds) and Missouri (13 points, 11 rebounds) while also scoring double figures against Bucknell and High Point. Abu is averaging 12.0 points and 10.8 rebounds over the last four games.
5. NOBODY IN ACC HAS WON MORE AWAY FROM HOME
NC State already owns a pair of road wins, having cliamed victory at South Florida and Missouri. The Wolfpack is one of just two teams in the ACC to already have two road wins. Wake Forest is the other team, with wins at Bucknell and Rutgers. NC State owns seven road wins dating back to last season and has won three straight road games
YOU CAN’T HURT CODY
Cody Martin shook a sprained ankle suffered against High Point to play 21 quality minutes in NC State’s win at Missouri. Earlier this season, Martin missed some practice time in before the Brooklyn trip due to illness. He recovered in time to average 12.0 points per game in the two games in the Barclays Center.
CAT IS THE TOP SCORER
In addition to last Saturday’s 33-point effort, Cat Barber scored a career-high 37 points in NC State’s win over Winthrop last month. Those two performances are the ACC’s highest scoring games of the season. Barber currently leads the ACC with 22.2 points per game.
Cat Barber, playing in his 83rd game as a Wolfpacker, has 975 career points. He is 25 points away from becoming the 49th player to score 1,000 points in an NC State uniform. Barber is averaging 11.7 points per game for his career.
CALEB, MAVERICK FROM LONG RANGE
Caleb Martin, much improved after shooting .305 from 3-point range last year, is currently fifth in the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (2.64). 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 eighth in the ACC with 2.27 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 three games, Barber is 6-for-14 from long range. He was 0-for-9 in the season’s first eight games.
The Wolfpack has out-rebounded seven straight opponents and have been +10 or better in rebounding margin in each of the last four games. NC State was +19 on the glass against Bucknell and +12 against Missouri.
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 .727 on the season, which would shatter NCSU’s single-season field goal percentage record (Kevin Thompson, .624). Anya is making 2.2 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 2,202 of the team’s possible 2,225 minutes (98.96%).
ROLLIN’ ON 20s
Maverick Rowan scored a 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.
BEEJAY REJECTING OPPONENTS
BeeJay Anya, the current ACC leader with 2.91 blocks per game, stands second on NC State’s all-time career blocks list. He enters Wednesday with 169 career blocked shots, 37 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.
LENNARD OFF THE BENCH
BeeJay Anya has started the last two games, both NC State wins, for the Wolfpack. Lennard Freeman now comes off the bench, and he has seemed more effective in that role. In his three games off the bench, the 6-9 Freeman is averaging 6.3 points and 8.7 rebounds.