NC STATE HOSTS FSU TONIGHT
The NC State men’s basketball team hosts Florida State at PNC Arena Wednesday night at 9 p.m. Both teams will be shooting for their first ACC victory. The Wolfpack has won three of the last four meetings with the Seminoles, who it will play twice this season. The second meeting betwee the two teams will be Monday, Feb. 1
THE STARTING FIVE
1. EVERY GAME GOING DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Wolfpack’s 0-3 ACC record could be drastically different with just a few bounces of the ball. The Pack has lost its three conference games by a combined total of 13 points, with one setback coming in overtime. NC State led by 14 in the second half before falling in OT at Virginia Tech in the league opener, then had the ball trailing 75-72 against Louisville before an officials’ reversal of a call gave the ball to Louisville. This past Sunday at Wake Forest, the Wolfpack owned a second-half lead before being edged 77-74. NC State has been within one score of winning or tying the game in the final minute of each of its ACC games. Furthermore, NC State has no bad losses, with five of the team’s six setbacks coming against the top 65 of the ESPN.com Daily RPI. NC State’s doesn’t have a lost outside of the RPI’s top 125.
2. CAT IN A LEAGUE ALL BY HIMSELF
Cat Barber has posted mind-boggling statistics all season long. Currently, he’s the only player in the country to average 21.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. In fact, if he maintains those numbers for the entire season, he’d be the first player since the 2012-13 season to average those marks (Nate Wolters, South Dakota State). Barber is currently the ACC’s leading scorer (22.9 ppg) and ranks fourth in assists per game (5.00) while playing an ACC-high 38.94 minutes per contest. Barber, who scored 37 points vs. Winthrop in November and 33 at Missouri in December, has only sat for 1:49 of total game time over the last eight games.
3. THREE TRAVEL PARTNERS IN A ROW
Wednesday’s game vs. Florida State is the middle game of three straight contests against travel partners. Under the ACC’s current basketball scheduling structure, NC State is paired with Wake Forest and UNC Chapel Hill as permanent home-and-home partners. The Wolfpack played at Wake Forest on Sunday and will go to Chapel Hill this coming Saturday. NC State, who will also play Duke twice this season, will play at Florida State Wednesday, Feb. 3. NC State is the ACC’s only team scheduled to play both UNC Chapel Hill and Duke twice this season.
4. THIS TIME, WE HAVE CAT
In last season’s 72-63 win at Florida State, the Wolfpack captured the win without the services of Cat Barber. The Pack’s star point guard missed the game after receiving word earlier that morning that one of his closest friends from his hometown of Newport News, Va., passed away the night before. Without Barber, State jumped out to a huge lead and held on for the win.
5. TWINS STUFF THE STAT SHEET
Sophomore twins Caleb and Cody Martin each had notable performances in Sunday’s game at Wake Forest. Caleb, a starter on the wing, grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to go with his seven points, three assists and two steals. Cody, who is one minute older than Caleb and comes off the bench, scored eight points with eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists.
WOLFPUPS GAINING EXPERIENCE
The experience gained this season by the young Wolfpack squad could pay dividends for the program’s future. According to the popular basketball metrics website KenPom. com, the Wolfpack stands as the 305th most-experienced team (or 46th least-experienced) in the country. The team, when minutes played are weighted by each player’s eligibility class, averages just 1.27 years of experience. The national average is 1.70 and the average experience of the 15-team ACC is 1.48.
Cat Barber surpassed the 1,000-point mark in December, reaching the plateau in his 83rd game as a Wolfpacker. Barber now has 1,098 career points, ranking 43rd in NC State history. He needs 69 points to tie Lorenzo Brown for 40th place. Barber is eighth among active players (and tops among non-seniors) in the ACC in career scoring.
PACK THE PAINT
Both NC State and Florida State want to get the ball inside or drive it into the lane. Neither team shoots the ‘3’ all the well, or really all that often. Just 23 percent of NC State’s points from on made 3-pointers (302nd in the nation), while FSU gets just 22.6 percent of its points on treys (309th) in the nation.
Wolfpack fans’ chants and cheers of ‘Abuuuuuu” for Abdul-Malik Abu have become more more prevalent recently. The 6-8 sophomore forward is averaging 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds over the last seven games. That stretch includes four double-doubles, highlighted by his 15 points and 12 rebounds vs. Louisville. Abu, who has started every game this season, owns six double-doubles this year.
CALEB, MAVERICK FROM LONG RANGE
Caleb Martin, much improved after shooting .305 from 3-point range last year, is currently sixth in the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (2.44). In the offseason, Martin tweaked his shooting form to keep the ball more to the right and remove a hitch from his motion. Freshman Maverick Rowan has been the Pack’s other long-range threat, standing ninth in the ACC with 2.25 made treys per game.
OFFENSIVE BOARD WORK
NC State hauls in a considerable rate of its offensive rebounds, grabbing 38.2 percent of its missed shots, good for 18th in the nation. The Pack has nine games with 15+ offensive rebounds and has grabbed at least 10 offensive boards in every game this season. NC State leads the ACC with 15.56 offensive rebounds per game
10 WINS OUTSIDE OF LEAGUE PLAY
NC State won 10 non-ACC games 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.
KIRK GETTING A LITTLE BURN
Athletic 6-8 freshman Shaun Kirk has been taking some reps in practice as a ‘4’ player. The added versatility could lead to the newcomer finding some playing time. Kirk scored three points in five minutes at Wake Forest, his first game action since the USF game on Dec. 13.
BEEJAY REJECTING OPPONENTS
BeeJay Anya, the current ACC leader with 2.88 blocks per game, stands second on NC State’s all-time career blocks list. He enters Sunday with 183 career blocked shots, 26 short of the school record held by Thurl Bailey (1979-83).
GOTTFRIED’S DRIVE FOR FIVE
Head coach Mark Gottfried can accomplish something only one other coach in ACC basketball history has matched. Gottfried has led his program to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first four seasons, which has only been accomplished by Skip Prosser (first 4 years) and Roy Williams (first 6 years).