NC State Seeks to Stay in Second

NC State (12-5) hosts Wake Forest(13-4) in an ACC clash. Game time is set for 9:00 and will be televised on your local Jefferson Pilot station... <P> Premium Subscribers can chat Live in the <a href=> Premium Chat Room</a> via the "Join Live Chat" Link.

Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser

NC State (12-5 * 5-2) vs. Wake Forest (13-4 * 4-3)
9:00 pm JP Sports
RBC Center
Raleigh, NC
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Wake Forest's Chris Paul (AP)
The Match-Up: Wake Forest and NC State, both coming off impressive victories over the weekend, meet Wednesday night at NCSU's RBC Center (9:00 p.m./Jefferson-Pilot TV). The 16th-ranked Demon Deacons, 13-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC, got back on the winning track by beating Maryland (93-85) and Virginia (91-78) last week. Sophomore guard Justin Gray scored 26 points to lead the Deacons in Saturday's win against Virginia. NC State, 12-5 and 5-2, jumped out to a big lead and beat Maryland on the road Sunday, 81-69. Julius Hodge led the Wolfpack with 28 points and nine rebounds. A Wake Forest victory Wednesday would put the Deacons into a tie for second place in the ACC standings. A Wolfpack victory would put State alone in second place.

Head Coach Skip Prosser: Prosser's winning percentage in ACC league games (.667/26-13) ties for the highest ever by a coach in his first three seasons in the conference. Vic Bubas and Bill Guthridge also had winning percentages of .667. Prosser's overall winning percentage at Wake Forest (.719/59-23) gives him the fifth-highest percentage in the 51-year history of the ACC. Only Dean Smith (.776), Mike Krzyzewski (.776), Bubas (.761) and Guthridge (.741) have/had higher winning percentages than Prosser. ABC/ESPN's Dick Vitale recently called Prosser the second-leading early candidate for National Coach of the Year honors.

January Play: Wake's youthful team struggled in January. They finished with a 5-4 overall record and discovered that the road in the ACC cam be a difficult place. After a win at Clemson, Wake Forest traveled to Duke and Florida State, where they found the hostile environments uninviting for visiting teams. Duke pummeled the Deacons 84-72, while FSU's Tim Pickett abused the younger Wake backcourt for 18 second half points on the way to a 75-70 Seminole victory.

Probable Starting 5: F – #31 Eric Williams (So 6-9 275), 14.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg... G – #1 Justin Gray (So 6-2 185), 14.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg 2.7 apg... G – #3 Chris Paul (Fr 6-0 168), 13.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5.6 apg, 3.4 spg... F – #10 Jamaal Levy (Jr 6-9 180), 10.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg... G – #4 Taron Downey (Jr 6-2 180), 10.3 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.8 rpg.

Wake's Top Gun: Deacon freshman Chris Paul is one of 30 midseason candidates for the John R. Wooden Award and Wooden All-America Team announced Jan. 26. Paul is averaging 12.6 points, 5.5 assists and 3.4 steals per game. He leads the ACC and ranks third nationally in steals. Paul ranks fourth in the ACC in assists and second in assist-turnover ratio. Paul is one of just two freshmen on the Wooden list, joining Minnesota's Kris Humphries.

Home Cooking or Wake Take-Out?: Wake Forest has won three straight against State at the RBC Center, giving the Deacons a 3-1 record in the building against the Wolfpack. Last year's game in Raleigh was won by Wake Forest 78-72. Expect a close game on Wednesday. Home, away or on a neutral court, five of the last eight meetings have been decided by six points or less.

Fast Break Points
Wake Forest

NC State leads the all-time series, 123-92.
The Deacs are a game behind NCSU in the ACC standings.
The last time the Wolfpack lost in the RBC Center was against Wake Forest in last year's regular season closer.
Wake has been ranked in the AP poll 40 times in 47 weeks under Skip Prosser
The Deacons have won 19 of the last 25 meetings.

Three Midgets Quite A Trio: Wake Forest often uses a three-guard lineup of 6-0 freshman Chris Paul, 6-2 sophomore Justin Gray and 6-2 junior Taron Downey. While the Deacon lineup may be short, it is extremely quick. Combined Statistics Of Paul, Gray and Downey Points Per Game 37.7 Three-Pointers Per Game 5.4 Assists Per Game 11.7 Turnovers Per Game 6.3 Steals Per Game 6.2 Rebounds Per Game 9.0 Minutes Per Game 89.0

Youth Movement: Wake is one of the nation's youngest teams. With no scholarship seniors on the roster, Wake Forest is one of college basketball's youngest teams. In fact, the Deacons are one of just six Division I schools with no scholarship seniors on the roster. Wake Forest has just three juniors on the roster to go with five sophomores and four freshmen. Wake Forest's top three scorers -- Justin Gray (14.7 ppg.), Eric Williams (13.5) and Chris Paul (12.6) -- are either freshmen or sophomores.

Hey, We Know those Guys!: Wake Forest freshman Todd Hendley's family has strong NC State connections. Todd's brother, Dickson, attended NC State. Sister, Kristy, is working on a sports management master's degree at State and last year she served as an academic counselor for the Wolfpack basketball team. Deacon sophomore Trent Strickland and State sophomore Cameron Bennerman were teammates at Hargrave Military Academy. Strickland and Wake's Richard Joyce joined NCSU's Bennerman and Adam Simons on the same AAU team. Also, the Wolfpack coaching staff actively recruited Chris Paul, Justin Gray, Jeremy Ingram, Eric Williams and Hendley at some point during the recruiting process.

Key Match-Up: Wake's 3 guard line-up vs. NC State's versatility: What makes Wake's three-guard lineup somewhat unique is that all three players can play point guard. Paul is the player at the point when he's in the lineup, but Downey played point guard his first two seasons and Gray also handles the ball well enough to play the position. All three players rank among the top 11 in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio. The trio averages more three-point field goals per game than many teams. Julius Hodge will be forced outside to guard the perimeter and his 6.5 rebounds per game may not happen as a result. Ilian Evtimov will have to take up the slack on the boards if State is to get their sixth ACC win.

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Wake Forest's Eric Williams, center, is embraced by his father, Eric, left, and mother Debra, right, after Wake Forest's 119-114 triple overtime upset of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday Dec. 20, 2003. Williams lead Wake Forest with 24 points. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

No Name Pos Ht Wt Yr City (High School)
0 Chris Ellis F 6-9 265   SO Marietta, GA (Marietta HS)
1 Justin Gray G 6-2 185   SO Charlotte, NC (Oak Hill Academy)
2 Jeremy Ingram G 6-3 185   FR Kinston, NC (Kinston HS)
3 Chris Paul G 6-0 168   FR Lewisville, NC (West Forsyth HS)
4 Taron Downey G 6-2 180   JR Oxford, NC (Fork Union Military Academy)
10 Jamaal Levy F 6-9 180   JR Panama City, Panama (Berkshire (FL) Academy)
13 Vytas Danelius F 6-9 228   JR Kaunas, Lithuania (Indianapolis Park Tudor)
20 Alan Williams G 6-3 177   SR Dallas, TX (Briarcrest Christian)
23 Richard Joyce G/F 6-5 200   SO Mount Airy, NC (Oak Hill Academy)
25 Scott Feather G 6-1 175   JR Maryville, TN (Maryville HS)
31 Eric Williams C 6-9 275 SO Wake Forest, NC (Wake Forest-Rolesville HS)
34 Trent Strickland G/F 6-5 200   SO East Flat Rock, NC (Hargrave Academy)
34 Todd Hendley F 6-9 213   FR Sanford, NC (Lee County HS)
35 Scott Benken F 6-6 215   JR Cincinnati, OH (Elder HS)
44 John Buck F 6-8 210   SO Westbury, NY (Long Island Luthern HS)
55 Kyle Visser C 6-11 224   FR Grand Rapids, MI (Forest Hills Central HS)

*Thanks to Wake Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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