PACK VISITS DUKE
The NC State men’s basketball team will travel 22 miles west Saturday afternoon for a showdown with Duke. The 243rd meeting between State and Duke will tip at 2 p.m. The two teams played at PNC Arena on Jan. 23, with Duke shaking a halftime deficit to win 88-78.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. HIS NAME IS CAT BARBER
Cat Barber is having a season that would rank among the all-time great performances in school and ACC history. In addition to leading the ACC in scoring with 23.4 points per game, he’s on pace become the second player in ACC history to average 23 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 4.5 apg (Kenny Anderson in 1990). Barber has a league-best six games with 30 or more points, including four in ACC play. His 15 games with 20 or more points is far and away the best in the ACC, as nobody else has more than 10.
Additionally, he is also leading the conference in free throws made (165) and minutes per game (38.7) and is fourth in both assists (4.6) and free throw percentage (.868).
For his efforts, Cat Barber was last week’s ACC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week this week and has captured that award three times this season.
2. THREE STRAIGHT 30-POINT EXPLOSIONS
Cat Barber has scored 30 or more points in each of the last three games, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished at NC State since David Thompson in 1975. Barber has scored 97 points over the last three contests: 36 vs. Georgia Tech, 30 vs. Miami and 31 at Florida State. Thompson had such a three-game streak in March of 1975. Barber has scored at least 30 points in four of the last five games, a stretch that was last matched in NC State history by T.J. Warren (2014), Rodney Monroe (1991) and Kenny Carr (1977).
3. NC STATE-DUKE HISTORY
Saturday’s contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium is the 243rd meeting between the two long-time Tobacco Road rivals. It is NC State’s 74th trip to the stadium built in 1940 that inspired the construction design of NC State’s legendary Reynolds Coliseum. Reynolds, currently under renovation, was designed similarly to the blueprint of then-Duke Indoor Stadium in 1940. Reynolds, after delays due to World War II, opened in 1949 and was the Pack’s men’s basketball venue for 50 seasons.
4. 22 MILES WEST, BUT SO FAR AWAY
NC State’s PNC Arena and Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium are located 22.6 miles apart, but for many of the Wolfpack players it will be new territory. Of the current State roster, only Cat Barber (31 minutes) and BeeJay Anya (9 minutes) have played at Duke. In January 2014, Lennard Freeman missed the game at Duke due to injury. From 2011-14, there was a stretch where four of the five meetings in the series were played at Cameron.
5. NC STATE AGAINST UNRANKED DUKE
The last time NC State and Duke played while Duke was not ranked in the AP poll was Feb. 17, 1996 in Durham. Duke edged the Pack 79-76 in overtime. Todd Fuller had 25 points and 11 rebounds for NC State and Jeff Capel scored 27 for Duke. While Duke is unranked for the first time since 2007, the Blue Devils were indeed ranked No. 21 that year when they faced the Wolfpack. NC State has faced an unranked Duke team coached by Mike Krzyzewski 11 times dating back to the 1980-81 season.
THERE’S ONLY CAT WITH 23 - 4.5 - 4.5
Cat Barber is the only player in the nation averaging 23 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. In all of college basketball dating back to 1994, only four players have reached those averages in a season: LaDrell Whitehead, Wyoming (94-95), Charles Jones, Long Island (96-97, 97-98), Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Wash. (06-07), Billy Baron, Canisius (13-14).
23 PPG, 4.5 RPG AND 4.5 APG IN THE ACC
Cat Barber would be the second player in ACC history - joining Georgia Tech great Kenny Anderson - to average 23 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 4.5 apg in a season (assists became official stat in 1984):
Cat Barber (2015-16) 23.4 ppg 4.5 rpg 4.5 apg
Kenny Anderson (1989-90) 25.9 ppg 5.7 rpg 5.6 apg
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.
After scoring 97 points over the last three games, Cat Barber now has 1,270 career points, ranking 31st in NC State history. He needs 18 points to tie Charles Shackleford for 28th on State’s all-time list. Barber is seventh among active players (and tops among non-seniors) in the ACC in career scoring. He is also now 11th in school history in career assists.
CAT AND DAVID THOMPSON
Cat Barber owns three straight 30-point performances, the first such streak since David Thompson in March 1975. Thompson scored 36 in the 1974-75 season finale and then 38 in the ACC Tournament against Virginia. The next day’s ACC semifinal saw DT go for 30. His streak was broken against UNC the next day in the 1975 tournament final, which was Thompson’s last college game.
CAT’S SCORING IN STATE HISTORY
Should he maintain his current 23.4 points per game mark, Cat Barber’s average would stand eighth in NC State single-season history. Additionally, Barber could become the seventh player in NC State history to lead the ACC in scoring.
BOARDS OFF THE BENCH
Lennard Freeman owns the ACC’s top two rebounding performances off the bench this season. Freeman came off the bench at Pitt on Jan. 19 to grab 14 rebounds. He also pulled in 13 boards vs. Bucknell in December.
LENNARD MAKES THE PACK GO
When Lennard Freeman plays and produces, the Wolfpack usually wins. Over the past two seasons, NC State has an 18-7 record when Freeman played 24 or more minutes. In games where the junior grabs eight or more rebounds, NC State is 20-5. The Pack is 11-0 in Freeman’s career when he grabs 10 or more rebounds.
CODY IN LEAGUE PLAY
Cody Martin is shooting .574 from the floor in league play and has increased his scoring and rebounding. He has shot .500 or better in nine of the 10 conference games, including a 6-for-8 mark vs. Duke on Jan. 23. Additionally, he has made his first two career 3-pointers since ACC play began.