Gameday: NC State vs. Georgia Tech

NC State (13-2, 2-1) looks to stay unbeaten at the RBC Center, as the Wolfpack faces Georgia Tech (9-4, 2-0) in a huge ACC contest for both teams.

Game Tracker I Premium Chat

Location: RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina

Tip-Off: 12:00 p.m.

Television: Raycom-Jeffersion Pilot

Radio: Airtime begins @ 11:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information


    Georgia Tech 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 Georgia Tech Starters
    G 35 Zam Fredrick 10.2 ppg 4.0 apg G 05 Mario West 7.4 ppg 4.0 rpg C 04 Ra'Sean Dickey 10.8 ppg 6.2 rpg F 32 Jeremis Smith 13.7 ppg 9.0 rpg F 23 Anthony Morrow 16.9 ppg 5.0 rpg

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    Tony Bethel --
    NC State is 24-6 with the senior guard starting in the backcourt, and he has drilled 10 of his last 15 3-pointers.

    Georgia Tech
    Anthony Morrow --
    Sharp-shooting sophomore wing leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game. Morrow, who chose Georgia Tech over NC State during the recruiting process, is connecting on 42.9% of his 3-point attempts.

    Saturday's matchup will mark the 79th meeting between NC State and Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack leads the overall series 47-31.

    NC State has won the last nine games against Georgia Tech in Raleigh, 11 of the last 13 and has never lost at home to the Jackets under Herb Sendek. The last time State dropped a home game to GT was on Jan. 24, 1996.

    The story in Atlanta is slightly different, however, as Tech holds an 18-13 advantage there. NC State has won the last two games there after losing the previous four.

    NC State has won six straight over Georgia Tech and has swept the Yellow Jackets each of the last two seasons, including the 2004 campaign when Tech made it to the national title game.

    Although the Wolfpack has won each of the last six games against Georgia Tech, the scores of those games have been relatively close. NC State's largest win in those six games was a 10-pointer in Atlanta in 2004 and the average margin of victory in those six games was six points.

    Last season, NC State won by two in Atlanta and by eight at home.

    Graduate Illian Evtimov is the only current Wolfpack player who has averaged double-figures for his career against Georgia Tech. In his six games played against the Yellow Jackets, Evtimov has averaged 10.2 points on 37% shooting from the field, 38% from the three-point arc. He has also averaged 5.2 rebounds against GT.

    NC State's 18 point win at 15th-ranked Boston College marked the Wolfpack largest margin of victory against a ranked team on the road in over 50 years. The last time an NC State squad had won by a bigger margin on a ranked opponents home court was on Dec. 7, 1954, when the Pack defeated No. 17 Wake Forest in Winston-Salem by 19.

    It marked the eighth win over a ranked team on the road under Herb Sendek (he also boasts 11 wins over ranked teams in Raleigh and eight at neutral sites). Three of NC State's last four opponents have been ranked, and the Wolfpack has defeated two of them (#12 George Washington and #15 Boston College). The games at No. 25 UNC and No. 15 BC marked the first time that the Wolfpack had faced ranked opponents on the road in back-to-back games since the 1998-99 season, when the Pack played at No. 21 Clemson on Jan. 5 and then at No. 5 Maryland on Jan. 10. Unranked NC State lost both of those contests.

    The Wolfpack fell to Number 18 in this week's Associated Press poll after its loss to No. 25 North Carolina. The Pack ranked 13th heading into that game, which tied as the second-highest under Herb Sendek ( the Wolfpack was ranked as high as 12th by AP for a week last season and was listed at 13th in February of 2004 for a week after defeating top-ranked Duke).

    The No. 13 ranking tied as the second-highest for NC State since December of 1986, when the Pack was ranked 11th.

    The Wolfpack's 13 wins heading into the January 14 game against Georgia Tech marks the most wins for the Wolfpack by that date in school history.

    NC State's start also ties as the third-best since the 1973-74 championship season and is the best under Herb Sendek.

    The concept of a 'team without stars' is serving the Wolfpack well this season, as the team posted its best start in 16 years. Despite the team's success, you would be hard pressed to find many Wolfpack individuals ranking among the ACC leaders in many categories.

    The Pack ranks sixth in the ACC in scoring offense, but only one player ranks among the top 25 in scoring (Cedric Simmons is 24th with 12.1 ppg). The Pack ranks fourth in the league in field goal percentage, but doesn't have a single player with enough field goals made to qualify for the league's individual rankings (the minimum is five made per game - Simmons leads the team with 4.1 per game).

    State ranks third in the ACC in free throw percentage, yet no players have enough to qualify in that category either (2.5 made per game), even though three are shooting over 76%.

    Seven different players have led the team in scoring this season (in 15 games). Four players are scoring in double figures (a fifth is just 0.3 from that tally) and only 3.8 points separates the team's top scorer and the team's seventh scorer.

    Sophomore center Cedric Simmons was nothing short of sensational in the Wolfpack's win at Boston College. After scoring one point in the first half, he went on a tear in the second frame, finishing with a gamehigh 17 points on 6-6 shooting from the field and 5-6 from the foulline. He also blocked five shots in the game against BC's highly-touted big men.

    The native of tiny Supply, N.C., is leading the team in scoring (11.7), in rebounding (6.9), in blocked shots (3 per game for 2nd in the ACC), and posts the team's best field goal percentage (.642 would rank second in the ACC if he had enough makes per game to qualify).

    Simmons already ranks 10th on the Wolfpack single-season blocked shot list with 45 in 2005-06. He has posted two double-doubles (both against ranked opponents) and against Iowa he became the first player in NC State history to ever post five or more assists and five or more blocks in the same game.

    Junior guard Engin Atsür has now started 73 consecutive games for the Wolfpack, a mark which ranks as the third-longest streak of consecutive starts under Herb Sendek.

    He is just one start from tying for second place.

    NC State has shot a hot .507 from the field and a hotter .545 from behind the three-point arc in its three ACC games this season (the Wolfpack posts a 2-1 mark in ACC play). NC State shot .634 from the field in the win at Boston College, it's highest shooting percentage against an ACC team since Feb. 22, 1997, when the Pack shot .643 against Georgia Tech.

    Four players are shooting over 50% from the field in conference play.

    Moving the ball to the most open player is a signature of the NC State offense. NC State has four 20+ assists outputs this season and is averaging 17.1 assists per game, the fourth-best mark in the ACC.

    The Pack is way in front of the rest of the league in terms of percentage of assisted field goals. NC State posts an assist on 67% of its field goals made, while the next highest mark in the ACC is .652 by North Carolina.

    A signature of the Wolfpack offense is also the 'pass before the pass' - as many made shots are preceded by at least three passes.

    The Wolfpack ranks second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 1.28 mark. Six different Wolfpack players have 25 or more assists for the season and NC State has posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in 11 of 15 games this season.

    Defense Progresses Since Break

    Head coach Paul Hewitt has noted steady improvement from Georgia Tech's defense since a 12-day break following a Dec. 10 game with Tennessee State. Tech has allowed just 60.2 points on average in the last six games, including a season-low of 46 against Bethune-Cookman and 58 to No. 11 Boston College (its season low), which had averaged 80 for the season.

    Over the six-game stretch, Tech has blocked an average of 4.3 shots and taken 9.8 steals per game. The Yellow Jackets have outrebounded their six foes 246-157, a per-game advantage of 14.8. The six opponents collectively have shot 39.5 percent, including 29.8 from three-point range.

    Tech has slowly risen in the ACC defensive rankings, now seventh in field goal percentage defense and second in three-point percentage defense.

    Offense Comes to Life
    With the exception of its loss at Air Force, Georgia Tech has become more efficient offensively over its last seven games, coinciding with the emergence of freshmen D'Andre Bell and Paco Diaw as major contributors.

    Aside from that Dec. 28 loss, the Yellow Jackets have averaged 78 points in the six wins during that stretch, shot 50.3 percent from the floor (39.8 percent on threes) and assisted on 111 of 171 field goals (64.9 percent).

    Over that stretch, Diaw has 20 assists, second only to Zam Fredrick, and just 12 turnovers while playing nearly 15 minutes per game, Bell is averaging 6.1 points while shooting 45.7 percent in nearly 24 minutes a game.

    Tech's victory over Vanderbilt was easily the Yellow Jackets' most complete game of the season, especially on the offensive end. Tech shot 60.9 percent from the floor, its best mark under Paul Hewitt, made 6-of-9 three-point baskets and assisted on 22 of 28 field goals.

    Jackets Pounds the Boards
    Georgia Tech has outrebounded 11 of 13 opponents this season, including the last eight in a row. Over that stretch, the Yellow Jackets have won the battle of the boards by an average of 13.5 per game.

    That advantage has become much more pronounced during Tech's current four-game winning streak, where the Yellow Jackets have outrebounded their foes by 16 a game. By game, Tech outrebounded Bethune Cookmam 55-35, Vanderbilt 35-18, Boston College 33-23 and Centenary 46-29.

    Tech ranks fourth in the ACC overall in rebounding and third in rebound margin (plus-7.8), fourth in offensive rebounds (14.31 per game). Over the last eight games, Tech has averaged 14.9 offensive rebounds.

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