Notebook: Pack Heads To Alabama

Game notes as No. 18 NC State prepares for tomorrow's contest against Alabama.

NC State's game in Tuscaloosa on Thursday night will mark the Wolfpack's first trip there in 75 years. Although Alabama and NC State have faced each other five times on the hardwood, the only time the teams played on the Crimson Tide's home court was in 1930-31. That season, the Pack fell in what was surely a scintillating game - with a final score of 22-15.

For some reason, the Pack and the Tide ALSO played in Raleigh that season (in the very next game in fact). That game was MUCH more exciting, with Alabama winning 23-17. The teams have met three other times on neutral courts - in Fayetteville, N.C. in December of 1969, in Denver in the NCAA regional semifinals in March of 1986, and in Charlotte in December of 1991.

NC State got its ACC season off to an auspicious beginning on Sunday night, posting an 81-69 win over Miami. The Wolfpack now posts a 5-5 mark in ACC openers under Herb Sendek, and has won three of its four conference openers played in December. Overall, NC State is 31-22 in ACC openers.

After the Miami game, the Wolfpack will be back in non-conference action four times before heading to Chapel Hill on January 7 to face the defending national champions.

The Wolfpack's team concept is certainly evident when looking at the squad's scoring this season. NC State currently has five players averaging double figures this season and the team's leading scorer and the team's fifth-leading scorer are only separated by 2.1 points per game. Six different players have led the team in scoring in 2004-05 (a couple have tied for the team-lead). Five or more players have reached double figures in five of the Pack's nine games.

NC State currently leads the nation in field goal percentage defense, as the Wolfpack's opponents are hitting just 35% of their shots. NC State also leads the ACC in scoring defense with a 57.6 mark and ranks second in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage defense at .272.

The Wolfpack has held six of its nine opponents to less than 60 points this season (two to less than 50 points). Miami's 69 points on Sunday night was the highest by a Pack opponent this season.

A third of the Wolfpack's scoring (237 points) this season has come from behind the three-point arc. In the last three games, the Wolfpack has been particularly hot on three's, connecting on 52% (36-69) and hitting double-figure three point totals in all three contests.

NC State shot .667 (12-18) from behind the arc in the win over Miami, its best three-point shooting percentage since a .722 (13-18) mark against Virginia on March 8, 2002.

Those three outputs followed a 3-18 performance from behind the arc at Iowa.

NC State has hit double-figure three's in four games this season (14 vs. The Citadel, 11 vs. App. State, 13 vs. UNCA and a dozen versus Miami).

The Wolfpack leads the ACC in three-pointers made per game with 8.78.

Herb Sendek coached his 300th game as head coach of the Wolfpack on Sunday against Miami. He now posts a 177-123 overall record (.590) at NC State. Only three other coaches have ever coached in more games at State: Everett Case, Norm Sloan and Jim Valvano.

Sendek also boasts the third-longest tenure among current ACC coaches, as only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Maryland Gary Williams have been at their current schools longer. In his last 100 games, Sendek has posted a 63-37 record for a .630 winning percentage. His winning percentage has gone up in each increment of 100 games since he's been at NC State.

After starting the same lineup in the first six games of the season, Herb Sendek switched it up for the Appalachian State contest and has now started all three seniors in the last three games.

The Pack's current lineup includes seniors Tony Bethel, Cameron Bennerman and Ilian Evtimov, junior Engin Atsur and sophomore Cedric Simmons.

The Wolfpack's seniors are accounting for 37% of the team's points, as Evtimov is the leading scorer with 12.4 per game, Bennerman is tied for third at 10.3 and Bethel is seventh at 7.6 ppg.

Noting the Pack

  • NC State's players will travel to their homes from Birmingham following Thursday night's game in Tuscaloosa. The team will meet back in Raleigh on Christmas afternoon.
  • The Wolfpack is looking to post its first perfect record in the month of December since 1997-98.
  • NC State has been leading the nation in field goal percentage defense (the NCAA stats were last updated on 12/12). NC State is allowing opponents to shoot just .346.
  • Five Wolfpack players are averaging double figures in terms of scoring and only 2.1 points separates the averages of the team's top five scorers.
  • The Wolfpack leads the ACC in scoring defense at .576.
  • NC State leads the ACC in blocked shots with 6.67 per game. Cedric Simmons and Andrew Brackman have combined to block 44 shots.
  • Junior guard Engin Atsür has posted a 5.25 assist-to-turnover ratio in the last three games, dishing out 25 assists to just four turnovers.
  • Cedric Simmons has posted two of the top six single-game blocked shot totals in school history this season.
  • Tony Bethel hit a career-high five three-pointers in the win over Miami, four in less than six minutes.
  • NC State ranks second in the ACC in free throw shooting at .735, and third in the league in trips to the line per game (25.6). Two starters are shooting 90% or better (Ilian Evtimov, .944 and Cameron Bennerman, .905).
  • Freshman forward Brandon Costner has missed the last three games with a leg injury.

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