Gameday: NC State-Iowa

NC State (5-0) faces Iowa (4-1) tonight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Iowa returns five starters from last year's NCAA Tournament team and should provide the Wolfpack with a major test.

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Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (15,500) in Iowa City, Iowa

Tip-Off: 9:30 p.m.

Television: ESPN2

Radio: Airtime begins @ 9:00 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information


    Iowa Information


    NC State Projected Starting Line-up
    G Engin Atsur
    G Gavin Grant
    C Cedric Simmons
    F Ilian Evtimov
    F Andrew Brackman

    Iowa Projected Starting Line-up
    G Jeff Horner
    G Mike Henderson
    G Adam Haluska
    F Greg Brunner
    C Erek Hansen

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    Engin Atsur --
    Junior guard was terrific defensively against Notre Dame and he must perform the same way for the Wolfpack to beat Iowa. Expect Atsur to guard Jeff Brunner, Iowa's highly-regarded point guard.

    Greg Brunner --
    A beast in the paint, the undersized power forward is a terror on the glass. NC State has had problems rebounding, and Brunner is as tough as they come as a rebounder.

    NC State Notes

    NC State has posted a 4-2 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge since 1999-2000. The Wolfpack has won all three of its home games in the challenge and has gone 1-2 on the road, including a win at 19th-ranked Purdue in 1999-2000.

    The Wolfpack has allowed just 61.2 points per game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

    NC State has faced Iowa on the hardwood five times, but has never played on the Hawkeyes' home court.

    In 1957, the two squads played in Raleigh in the legendary Dixie Classic. Everett Case's Wolfpack squad won that one, 84-70.

    The other four meetings between the Pack and the Hawkeyes have all come on neutral courts. In 1980, Norm Sloan's team lost to Iowa in the NCAA East Regionals second round in Greensboro, 64- 77. Jim Valvano's squad faced Iowa in the first round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis, winning 66-64 (the Pack would advance to the regional finals that year).

    In 1986-87, the Pack lost a squeaker to Iowa in the Alaska Shootout, 89-90. The last meeting between the two schools was on March 19, 1989, when NC State defeated Iowa, 102-96, in the second round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament in Providence, Rhode Island.

    Wednesday night's contest with 18th-ranked Iowa will mark the earliest in the season that the Wolfpack has played a ranked team under Herb Sendek and the first time the Wolfpack has faced a ranked team in November since 1986.

    NC State has posted a 5-5 record against ranked teams before the New Year under Herb Sendek, but has won five of its last seven.

    They may be young, but they're experienced - the Wolfpack's trio of talented sophomores are currently ranked as the first, fourth and fifth-leading scorers on the squad.

    Sophomores Cedric Simmons, Gavin Grant and Andrew Brackman combined to play 1,396 minutes last season, but are almost a third of the way to that total in just five games this season (385 total minutes) as all three have started all five games this season.

    Gavin Grant

    Simmons, who averaged just 3.5 points as a rookie, is leading the team in scoring with 13.4 ppg. Simmons also leads the team in blocked shots with 10 and ranks second in rebounds with 5.8 per game. He and roommate Gavin Grant, who averaged 4.2 points last season, each scored career highs of 22 points in the Nov. 20 win over Delaware.

    Grant is now ranked fourth on the team with 10.8 points per game, but leads the team in rebounds with 6.2 and in assists with 24. HIs 4.8 assists per game rank sixth in the ACC.

    Brackman led last year's rookies with 7.4 points per game, and is now averaging 8.6 per outing. He has blocked seven shots this season.

    Solid defense has been the calling card for Herb Sendek teams over the years. The Wolfpack has led the ACC in scoring defense four times in his eight seasons as head coach, and ranked second in the league last season with just 66.1 points allowed. Heading into this season, Wolfpack opponents had averaged just 65.0 points per game under Sendek.

    NC State has been particularly effective when holding its opponent to 60 points or less in recent campaigns. During Sendek's tenure, the Pack has held the opponent under that scoring mark 106 times, including 10 times last season and four times already in 2005-06. In other words, in 37% of its games under Sendek (110 of 296), the Pack has held the opponent to 60 points or less. In the past nine campaigns, the Pack posts an 94-16 mark when holding the opposition to 60 or less and has won 40 of its last 44 games when doing so.

    Every team needs a Packhorse - the guy who may not be the flashiest player on the court, but who carries the load.

    Junior guard Engin Atsür may not be a stallion, but he has definitely been NC State's Pack Horse in the last couple of seasons. Atsür was the only player to start every game for NC State last season and ranked second in minutes played.

    Engin Atsur

    This season, he leads the team in minutes (30.8 per game), is shooting 51% from the field, 39% on three's and 71% from the charity stripe. He ranks second on the team with 22 assists (to just 12 turnovers).

    Atsür ranks eighth in the ACC in assists, 15th in steals. and ninth in assistto- turnover ratio.

    But Atsür's biggest contributions come on the defensive end of the court. He leads the team in deflections (32), in steals (11) and ranks fifth on the team with 3.4 rebounds.

    NC State's opponents have averaged a whopping 17.4 turnovers per game in the early season, with all five foes turning the ball over at least 15 times. The opposition has tallied just 50 assists (10 per game) for a 0.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    NC State's turnover tally stands at 11.8 per game, but the team's 16.8 assists gives the Pack a solid +5.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    Last Saturday's game against Notre Dame in the Wooden Tradition marked NC State's fifth game in nine days.

    The Wolfpack opened the season with three games in three days in the Hispanic College Fund Classic, then had two days off before facing VMI, then two days off before the Notre Dame game. This marked the most games the Pack has played in the least amount of days to open the season since 1978-79, when Norm Sloan's squad played five games in nine days, posting a 4-1 record. That squad ended up the season with an 18- 12 record.

    The center position is probably the most difficult to learn in the Wolfpack's intricate motion offense, as the big guys are playing all over the floor, not just under the basket. But early in his sophomore season, big-guy Cedric Simmons has shown that he feels at home in that role.

    Cedric Simmons

    "Big Ced" is currently leading the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game, in blocks with two per game, and ranks second in rebounding with 5.8 per contest. He set a career-high with 22 points and tied his career-best with four blocked shots against Delaware, and shot a career- best 10-12 from the line and pulled down a career-best eight rebounds against Stetson.

    Simmons, who has gained almost 20 pounds since he first came to NC State, has also greatly improved his free throw shooting this season, which is fortunate since he has been to the line 38 times in five games. He is currently shooting 71% (27-38) from the charity stripe after shooting just 54% (24-44) last season. In five games, he has gone to the line just six less times than in 31 games last season.

    NC State has opened the 2005-06 campaign with a 5-0 mark, marking the fifth time in Herb Sendek's 10 seasons that the Pack has posted a 5-0 start. Last season's 8-0 record to open the season was the best start for the Wolfpack under Sendek and the best for the Wolfpack since 1981-82, when Jim Valvano's squad opened 9-0.

    The Wolfpack opened the 2005-06 campaign with three victories in three days, sweeping the field at the Hispanic College Fund Classic. The Wolfpack posted a 30-point win over Stetson (91- 61), defeated The Citadel 91-59, then won over Delaware, 73-57.

    NC State has taken 146 trips to the charity stripe in its first five games, including 39 against Delaware and 37 against The Citadel.

    NC State has now hit at least one threepointer in 505 straight contests, a streak that dates back to the Wake Forest game on March 4, 1989.

    That streak looked to be in jeopardy on Nov. 20 versus Delaware, however. The Pack missed its first nine three-pointers and didn't connect until the 3:50 mark in the second half, when Ilian Evtimov nailed a three. The team ended up going 1-11 from behind the arc, marking the lowest three-point field goal total for the Wolfpack since Feb. 22, 2003, when the team shot just 1-10 against Duke. The Pack must have used up all its three's the night before. State connected on 14 three-pointers against The Citadel, the most since Nov. 26 of last season against Campbell.

    For the season, the Pack is averaging eight three-pointers made per game (9.75 if you take out the Delaware contest).

    NC State has posted a 96-31 record against non-conference competition under Herb Sendek (86-22 in the regular season) and posts an impressive 52- 5 home record against non-conference opponents since the Wolfpack began playing in the RBC Center in 1999-2000. That gives NC State a 91 percent winning mark against non-conference competition at home. The squad has also won three games against non-conference opponents in Reynolds Coliseum during that time frame.

    Overall, Sendek's squads have won 77% of their games in the RBC Center, posting an 81-24 mark.

    Iowa Notes


    There might not be any team in the nation that has already played two top-ten teams at this early juncture of the season, save the Hawkeyes. Iowa beat then #7 Kentucky last week in Kansas City, holding the Wildcats to zero points in transition. They lost the next night to #2 Texas by nine points after leading for more than 30 minutes of the game. Iowa enters the game ranked 14/15 in the polls.

    Iowa returns 84.6% of its scoring from 2005, 90.9% of its rebounding, 81.6% of its assists and 78.5% of its steals. Iowa's returning players shot 45.5% from the field, 38.7% from three-point range and 71.9% from the free throw line. The Hawkeyes return their statistical leader from last season in all categories,


    Iowa has compiled a 280-80 (.778) record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is 148-13 (.919) in non-Big Ten games. Iowa has drawn over five million fans for men's basketball games since the arena opened in 1983. Capacity is 15,500. Iowa has posted a 72-25 (.742) home record under Coach Steve Alford, including a 45-4 (.918) mark in non-conference home games.

    Iowa's enrollment (29,697) is 260 fewer students than are enrolled at NC State.


    44 Greg Brunner F 6-7 240 Sr. 13.8/8.2: Powerful under the glass and quick on the blocks. Lost 15 pounds during the offseason. One of 50 players named to the pre-season Naismith watch list, the award that goes to the best player in college basketball. Selected to the USA Basketball team that played overseas this past summer.

    34 Erek Hansen C 6-11 220 Sr. 7.0/4.4:
    One of the most prolific shot blockers in Iowa history. Led the nation in blocks per game last year. Prone to early foul trouble, a tendency to pick up fouls setting high screens or hedging high on defense. Decent offensive game, but does not look to score.

    Adam Haluska

    1 Adam Haluska G 6-5 210 Jr. 14.6/5.0:
    One of the greatest athletes in Iowa high school track and field history. Averaged nearly 20 points per game after January 24th of last year, after Pierre Pierce was removed from the team. Streaky shooter, big guard and a good defender.

    2 Jeff Horner G 6-3 185 Sr. 11.2/3.0: The only player in Iowa history with more than 1,000 points, 400 assists and 400 rebounds, all of those numbers accumulated in three years. Joins Brunner on Naismith watch list. Off to a slow shooting start, but if he gets hot, he can single handedly win a game with his three point shooting. He is in range when he walks into the gym.

    35 Mike Henderson G 6-2 190 Jr. 8.0/4.6:
    Great on ball defender and very good at getting the ball to the rim on offense. His ability to do that helped Iowa beat Michigan State in last year's Big Ten tournament, a win that punched Iowa's card to the dance and MSU went on to the Final Four.


    Iowa goes a legit nine deep, perhaps ten deep. The Iowa reserves are averaging 22 points and 14.8 rebounds per game, compared to 12 points and 10.4 rebounds for the opponent reserves.

    The first player off the bench and the most explosive and athletic player on Iowa's team, and one of the most athletic in the Big Ten, is 6-8, 250-pound forward Doug Thomas. He always looks for the dunk in transition and is a big asset on the glass and blocking shots. He is averaging seven rebounds per game and just under six points per game in 19.8 minutes per game.

    The first guard off the bench is true freshman Tony Freeman. Freeman has not played like a freshman this year and is among the Big Ten's leaders in assist to turnover ratio (15 to 4). He is a full court on-ball defender, which is his biggest strength. He is not yet a scoring threat.

    6-9 Alex Thompson is very active, but has yet to develop into a scorer on the low block. 6-4 guard Carlton Reed saw his first action last week against Texas. A good defender and another big guard for Iowa. Also has streaky touch from the outside.


    The Hawkeyes have to start shooting better from three point range. They are making less than 30 percent of their attempts and they have not been shy in shooting from long-range. Iowa needs to continue to play very good defense; Iowa opponents are shooting just .356 from the floor. Also, the Hawkeyes need to establish dominance in the paint, something they can do when Brunner and Thomas are in the game. Iowa has made more three throws than their opponents have attempted.


    They contain Iowa's shooters and slow the game down. They also need to play break even on the glass, as Iowa was +10 on the offensive boards against Texas, a team with one of the best frontcourts in America.

    To read what Iowa coach Steve Alford has to say about NC State, CLICK HERE. To read what Iowa captains Greg Brunner and Jeff Horner said about NC State, CLICK HERE.


    Senior forward Greg Brunner and senior guard Jeff Horner are two of 50 players named as pre-season candidates for the Naismith Trophy, presented annually to the Player of the Year.

    Brunner was named the Most Valuable Player in the Iowa City regional of the Guardians Classic. Brunner scored 16 points in each of the two Iowa wins and averaged 7.5 rebounds.

    Jeff Horner

    The Charles City native shot 57.1% from the field and 77.8% from the free throw line. He added four assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Brunner leads Iowa with an 8.2 rebounding average through five games and he is scoring 13.8 points per contest. He had scored in double figures in four of five games and had season high marks of 17 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Kentucky.

    For the second straight season, Brunner is the top returning rebounder in the Big Ten. This marks the fourth time in the last five seasons Iowa has had the top returning rebounder. Reggie Evans led the league in rebounding in 2001 and returned to defend his title in 2002. Jared Reiner led the Big Ten in rebounding in 2003 and returned in 2004.

    As has been the case in each of the past three seasons, Horner leads Iowa in assists. Horner has 34 assists in five games and is averaging 11.2 points per game. Horner has also converted all of his 12 free throws through five games and is tied for second on the team with six steals. Like Brunner, Horner has started 97 of the 98 games Iowa has played over the last three-plus seasons.

    Horner and Brunner joined Iowa's 1,000 Point Club as juniors a year ago. Horner has scored 1,151 points (ranks 22nd) and is the only Iowa player ever to score over 1,000 points, grab over 400 rebounds and distribute over 400 assists. Horner was honorable mention all-Big Ten a year ago.

    Horner is the only player in Iowa basketball history to record over 200 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in three different seasons. Horner is one of two players to accomplish the feat as a freshman.

    Brunner has scored 1,104 career points (ranks 28th) and he has 717 rebounds. Brunner has ranked second in Big Ten rebounding in each of the past two seasons. He was named second team all-Big Ten last season and earned a gold medal at the World University Games last summer. Brunner ranks ninth in career blocked shots (87) and is near Iowa's top 10 in career rebounds.


  • Iowa is just 1-3 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge
  • Iowa holds a 10-18 record against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Iowa's most recent contest against a member of the ACC came early last season when the Hawkeyes dropped a 106-92 decision to North Carolina, the eventual national champion, in the title game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
  • Iowa and NC State met three common foes a year ago. Iowa lost to North Carolina at a neutral site, while the Tar Heels defeated the Wolfpack twice. Iowa won two of three games with Purdue and NC State defeated the Boilermakers in their only meeting. Iowa lost two games to Wisconsin, while the Badgers won their only meeting with NC State.


    Publication/National Ranking
    Lindy's 9th
    Athlon's Sports 2nd Round, NCAA
    Dick Vitale, - - - 12th - - - 16th
    Blue Ribbon - - - 16th
    Andy Katz, - - - 17th
    The Sporting News - - - 9th
    Sports Illustrated - - - 18th
    USA Today/ESPN Poll - - - 20th

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