Location: Dean Smith Center (21,750) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Tip-Off: 3:00 p.m.
Radio: Airtime begins @ 2:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network
NC State Information
North Carolina Information
Probable NC State Starters
03 Ilian Evtimov F 6-7 222 Sr. 13 Cameron Bennerman F 6-4 205 Sr. 33 Cedric Simmons C 6-9 233 So. 14 Engin Atsur G 6-3 200 Jr. 22 Tony Bethel G 6-2 185 Sr.
Probable North Carolina Starters
F- 34 David Noel SR 13.5 ppg. 7.4 rpg. F- 03 Reyshawn Terry JR 12.9 ppg. 5.3 rpg. C- 50 Tyler Hansbrough FR 16.5 ppg. 7.3 rpg. G- 01 Marcus Ginyard FR 8.9 ppg. 3.2 rpg. G- 04 Bobby Frasor FR 6.4 ppg. 4.7 apg.
Players to Watch
Cedric Simmons -- Simmons is emerging into a force in the paint for the Wolfpack. The sophomore is averaging 12 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while blocking three shots per contest, second in the ACC.
Tyler Hansbrough -- Hanbrough is UNC's leading scorer and an absolute load in the paint. The true freshman is averaging 16.5 points per game and 7.3 boards while shooting 63% from the field.
NC State Game Notes
IT ALL STARTS WITH GETTING STOPS
The Wolfpack is holding opponents to an ACC best 58 points a game. State also leads the league in field goal percentage defense (.365) and is second in three-point percentage defense (.285).
THE BEAUTY OF BETHEL
Senior guard Tony Bethel recorded a season-high 20 points and 4 steals and shot 8-of-9 from the field against UNC-Greensboro on Jan. 3rd. Bethel is NC State's best on-the-ball defender and is also a highly skilled playmaker and impressive rebounder.
THE TURK IS TERRIFIC
Engin Atsur, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, leads the Pack in assists (61), steals (23), 3-point percentage (.470) and minutes (30.8). The junior has only 10 turnovers in his last 7 games. He's scored in double-figures in his last 6 games, averaging 13.2 (79) points and 5.5 assists (33) while shooting 58 percent from the three-point line (19-33).
During its seven-game winning streak, the Pack has shot 42 percent from the three-point arc (74-177).
A TALE OF TURNOVERS
The Wolfpack turned the ball over 18 times against UNC-Greensboro on Jan. 3rd, but for the season is averaging only 13 turnovers a game. State had a season-low 5 turnovers against New Hampshire on Dec. 30th.
CAM'S THE MAN
After a slow start, Cameron Bennerman has elevated his game. In his last 7 appearances, the senior has averaged 14.4 points a game (101) while shooting 63 percent during that span (47-75). Bennerman led the Pack with 17 points in the win over then 12th-ranked George Washington.
SIMMONS STEPS UP
The most improved player on the NC State team is Cedrick Simmons. The sophomore center played in 31 games last season and averaged 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds. This season, Simmons leads the team in scoring (12.0), rebounding (6.9) and blocked shots (3.0) while shooting a team high .619 from the field.
MAY I HELP YOU?
NC State is averaging an assist on an impressive 69 percent of its field goals (231-of-333) this season.
The Pack's rebounding margin of +1.8 may be 10th in the ACC, but it is a big improvement from earlier this season. State is third in the ACC in defensive rebounds (25.9) per game.
Freshman forward Brandon Costner will miss his 8th straight game with a leg injury.
North Carolina Game Notes
CAROLINA VS. RANKED TEAMS
Carolina has played two teams ranked in the Associated Press poll this season, beating No. 10 Kentucky 83-79 on Dec. 3 on the road and losing 68-64 to No. 12 Illinois on Nov. 29 in the Smith Center.
Roy Williams is 15-10 as the Tar Heels' head coach against ranked teams, including a 7-5 mark against Top-10 opponents.
TERRY'S BECOMING A MORE COMPLETE PLAYER
Terry exploded for a career-high 25 points, going 9 for 10 at the free throw line, in the Dec. 3 win at Kentucky. He had 16 points, four rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots against Davidson on Jan. 3.
Carolina has won five of its last six Atlantic Coast Conference openers, including an 85-51 win at Virginia Tech last season on Dec. 19, 2004. The Tar Heels lost their ACC opener in 2003-04 in Roy Williams' first season as head coach when Wake Forest beat UNC, 119-114 in triple overtime on Dec. 20, 2003.
The Tar Heels are 19-6 (.760) in their last 25 ACC openers (beginning with the 1980-81 season).
HANSBROUGH LIVING UP TO THE HYPE
Freshman forward Tyler Hansbrough entered the season as the media's preseason choice for Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and is off to a hot start to his college career, leading all ACC freshmen in scoring and rebounding.
Through 10 games, he leads ACC freshmen in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg). He leads the UNC team in scoring and is second behind David Noel (7.4 rpg) in rebounding. Hansbrough's field goal percentage of 63.2 (55 of 87) is first on the squad and second in the ACC. His 80 trips to the free throw line are nearly double the total of any other Tar Heel (Reyshawn Terry is second with 42).
In his last outing against Davidson, Hansbrough scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed eight boards in 24 minutes of action. On Dec. 28 against UNC Asheville, he tied a Smith Center record with eight steals and also recorded 14 points and six boards. Hansbrough tied Derrick Phelps' Smith Center steal record, set on Dec. 7, 1991, vs. Central Florida. Hansbrough's eight steals were one shy of Phelps' school-record nine (set on Feb. 2, 1992, vs. Georgia Tech).
ROOKIES PRODUCING FOR TAR HEELS
Tyler Hansbrough isn't the only freshman playing well for the Tar Heels this season:
Green is tied for fourth on the team with 8.9 ppg and is also fourth with 4.5 rpg.
NOEL'S SCORING ON THE RISE
Senior David Noel has scored in double figures in nine of 10 Carolina games this season after doing so twice last season and three times as a sophomore.
Noel had 12 career double-figure scoring games prior to this season, including seven as a freshman.
He was held to five points against Davidson on Jan. 3 but led all players with 10 rebounds, including nine on the defensive glass, and seven assists. Noel is second on the team in scoring this season with 13.5 points per game. With 135 points this season entering the NC State game, Noel is close to matching his scoring total from all of last season (143).
As the team's leader this season, Noel has already hit two big shots for the Tar Heels. He hit a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds to play to defeat Gardner-Webb in the season-opener. He also hit a three-pointer to put UNC up by 10 at Kentucky with 2:55 left to play in Carolina's win on Dec. 3, helping take the air out of a Wildcat rally.
The nine consecutive double-figure games are the longest such streak of Noel's career. The previous long was three games in his freshman year.
LOST FROM LAST SEASON
Carolina lost 91.0 percent of its scoring, 87.1 percent of its rebounding and 81.7 percent of its assists from last season. According to research by STATS, the Tar Heels lost the largest percentage of their points and the second-largest percentage of their rebounds of any team in the nation from last season. UNC also lost 81.7 percent of its assists from last season. According to STATS' research, Oklahoma State lost the next-most points to UNC at 85.6 percent and Savannah State lost the most rebounds at 89.0 percent.
Carolina lost all five starters from its national championship team of 2004-05 after bringing back all five starters in each of the previous two seasons. David Noel is the Tar Heels' leading returning scorer (3.9 ppg) and rebounder (2.6 rpg) from last season.
Past Tar Heel NCAA championship teams returned far more players the season after their national titles. The 1957-58 Carolina team returned three starters (Pete Brennan, Bob Cunningham and Tommy Kearns) from the ‘57 title team. The 1982-83 Tar Heels returned three starters (Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Matt Doherty) from the ‘82 title team. The 1993-94 Tar Heels returned four starters (Eric Montross, Donald Williams, Brian Reese and Derrick Phelps) from the 1993 NCAA champions.
MILLER PLAYING HIS BEST BASKETBALL THIS SEASON
Wes Miller is playing the best basketball of his career this season.
He set new career highs in points (11), three-point field goals (three) rebounds (two), assists (four) and steals (three) against Cleveland State on Nov. 22, then followed that performance with eight points against UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 25.
On Dec. 3 at Kentucky, he again set a new career high with 12 points, hitting three three-pointers and playing solid defense. He hit three three-pointers for a second straight game, finishing with nine points against Saint Louis.
With 63 points so far this year, Miller has already surpassed his total points (26) during the entirety of the 2004-05 season.
NOW HEALTHY, THOMAS EXCELLING OFF THE BENCH
Sophomore point guard Quentin Thomas returned to action on Dec. 17 vs. Santa Clara after missing three games (Illinois, Kentucky and Saint Louis) due to a stress fracture of the third metatarsal bone of his left foot (the bone connected to the third toe on his left foot).
Thomas went scoreless in his first two games back against Santa Clara and USC, but has played well in the two games since. He scored five points and tied his then-career high with five assists in the win over UNC Asheville on Dec. 28. Thomas followed up that performance with a career-high six assists and zero turnovers against Davidson on Jan. 3. In his last two games, Thomas has 11 assists and two turnovers.
Thomas suffered the injury in practice prior to Carolina's season-opener vs. Gardner-Webb on Nov. 19. He played in each of the Tar Heels' first three games but did not start any of those contests. Thomas practiced on a limited basis since the injury.
Tar Heel Tidbits
NC State Athletics, UNC Athletics and Inside Carolina contributed to this report.