NOTES: ACC Home Opener For State

NC State's matchup with Louisville is a huge game for both teams. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm, and the game is televised on ESPN2. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

PACK HOSTS NO. 16 LOUISVILLE
In a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 contest in Syracuse, the NC State men’s basketball team will host No. 16 Louisville Thursday night at PNC Arena. The two teams split a pair of meetings last year in Louisville’s first season in the ACC. The all-time series is tied 9-9.

THE STARTING 5
1. BLACKOUT
Fans are encouraged to wear black to Thursday’s contest against Louisville, and the Wolfpack will be wearing its alternate black Adidas uniforms. The Pack broke out the ‘Iced Out’ black uniforms in November during its victory over LSU at the Barclays Center. This contest will feature the Pack players in the traditional black uniforms with red and white trim. Notably, NC State won at Louisville last season while wearing black uniforms and special-issue Adidas shoes.

2. ‘WE GOT DOMINATED AT ALL FIVE POSITIONS’
That was a quote attributed to Louisville’s Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino after the Wolfpack went to Louisville and won 74-65 last February. Cat Barber scored 21 points and handled full-court ball pressure the entire game. He finished 10-for-13 at the foul line and and added four assists. Caleb Martin and BeeJay Anya each came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds in the win, which served as a catalyst to last season’s Sweet 16 run.

3. FOUR HALL OF FAME WINS
NC State’s win over Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals last season was won of four victories that came over coaches currently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Two of the four wins over hall of famers came on the road, as Mark Gottfried took his team to ninth-ranked Louisville and 15th-ranked UNC Chapel Hill and won. The Pack also defeated unbeaten and No. 2 Duke 87-75 at home in January and closed the regular season with a 71-57 win over Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse squad.

4. ONE OF THE TOP GUARDS IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL
“I can’t imagine anyone doing more for his team than Cat does for us.” That was what Mark Gottfried said following the team’s win over Northeastern, and Barber’s numbers this season back up the claim. The 6-2 junior point guard is leading the ACC in points per game (22.9), free throws made (116) and minutes per game (38.9). He is fourth in the league in assists (4.93), sixth in free throw percentage (.847) and eighth in assist-turnover ratio (2.38). Barber has only sat on the bench for one minute over the last six games, including playing all 45 minutes last weekend in the overtime game at Virginia Tech. He has not come off the floor in six games this season.

5. BALL CONTROL
One thing NC State does as well as almost any team in the country is take care of the ball. The Wolfpack is 17th in the nation (fourth in the ACC) in turnover percentage, meaning the Pack only commits a turnover on offense 15.1 percent of the time. Much of that has to do with the ballhandling of Cat Barber, who is in the top 175 nationally among all players in turnover percentage. The Wolfpack boasts eight games this season with 10 of fewer turnovers.

9-9 vs. LOUISVILLE
NC State and Louisville have played 18 times, with each team winning nine times. In addition to splitting two high-profile meetings last season, NC State beat Louisville twice during the 1987-88 season under Jim Valvano. NC State was 3-4 against Louisville during the 1980s.

DEFENSE!
NC State is currently fourth in the ACC in defensive field goal percentage (.404). The Pack has limited seven opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season. The Wolfpack is also 31st nationally (2nd in the ACC only to Louisville) holding opponents to .424 shooting from 2-point range.

#CAT1K
Cat Barber scored 27 points in the win over UNCG, his 83rd game as a Wolfpacker. The total lifted him to 1,002 career points, making him the 49th player to score 1,000 points in an NC State uniform. Barber now has 1,052 career points, good for eighth among active players (and tops among non-seniors) in the ACC.

ABUUUUUUUUUU
Wolfpack fans’ chants and cheers of ‘Abuuuuuu” for Abdul-Malik Abu have become more more prevalent recently. The 6-8 sophomore forward is averaging 11.0 points and 10.2 rebounds over the last five games. Abu, who has started every game this season, is sixth in the ACC with five double-doubles this year.

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 (2.50). 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 2.07 made treys per game. Martin has five games this season with four made 3-pointers, while Rowan has done that four times.

CAT TAKING AIM
In addition to the outside shooting of Caleb Martin and Maverick Rowan, Cat Barber has recently become more aggressive from the outside. In the last six games, Barber is 11-for-28 from long range. He was 0-for-9 in the season’s first eight games.

10 WINS OUTSIDE OF LEAGUE PLAY
NC State has earned 10 non-ACC wins for the fourth time in five years under Mark Gottfried. The Wolfpack won 11 non-conference games in each of the coach’s first two seasons and won 10 in 2013-14, his third season. Last season, playing one of the most rugged non-league schedules in the nation, NC State won nine games. However, a rare early ACC game with Wake Forest last December gave NC State 10 wins before the calendar turned to 2015.

OFFENSIVE BOARD WORK
NC State has been one of the nation’s better offensive rebounding teams this season, grabbing 38.1 percent of its misses, good for 21st in the nation. The Pack has eight games with 15+ offensive rebounds and has grabbed at least 10 offensive boards in every game this season. NC State pulled in 21 offensive rebounds on Saturday at Virginia Tech.

BEEJAY REJECTING OPPONENTS
BeeJay Anya, the current ACC leader with 3.07 blocks per game, stands second on NC State’s all-time career blocks list. He enters Sautrday with 180 career blocked shots, 27 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, five ahead of Clemson’s Landry Nnoko.

PACK IN 2015
NC State finished the 2015 calendar year with a 23-13 record in the 2015 calendar year. The Pack posted a 10-3 mark so far this season added with a 13-10 record after New Year’s Day last season. The Wolfpack won eight games between Feb. 14 to March 21. 


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