Gameday: NC State vs. Wake Forest

No. 14 NC State (14-3, 3-2) looks to stay unbeaten at the RBC Center, as the Wolfpack faces Wake Forest (12-5, 1-3) in a huge ACC contest for both teams.

Game Tracker I Premium Chat

Location: RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina

Tip-Off: 4:00 p.m.

Television: Raycom-Jeffersion Pilot

Radio: Airtime begins @ 3:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information


    Wake Forest 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 Wake Forest Starters
    G Justin Gray G Harvey Hale F Mike Drum F Chris Ellis C Eric Williams

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    Cedric Simmons --
    Simmons had a career game against Duke, totaling 28 points, nine rebounds, and seven blocks. The sophomore is emerging into one of the ACC's elite players.

    Wake Forest
    Justin Gray --
    Gray has been on fire lately, averaging 30 points over his last three games. The senior guard is Wake's go-to player.

    The NC State-Wake Forest rivalry is the oldest series for the Wolfpack, dating back to the 1910-11 season. The two squads have faced each other a total of 217 times over 96 years, and NC State leads the overall series 125-92.

    The Pack hold a 86-54 advantage of games played in Raleigh, and also hold a 13-7 edge when the two teams have faced off on a neutral court. Wake Forest holds its own advantage in games on their home court, 31-26.

    Wake Forest swept the Wolfpack in the regular season last year, before NC State came back to win in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The Pack has won four of the last six match-ups against Wake.

    The average margin of the last four games that NC State and Wake Forest have played in Raleigh has only been 3.5 points. The Pack has lost three of the last four games against Wake Forest in the RBC Center, falling by two points last year, by six in 2003 and by one in 2002. In 2004, State won by five.

    The Wolfpack has only fallen to three teams this season and all three have come against ranked teams on the road. NC State lost at No. 14 Iowa by three points on November 30, fell 82-69 to No. 25 North Carolina in Chapel Hill on January 7 and then at top-ranked Duke, 68-81, on Wednesday night.

    NC State has also beated two ranked opponents, winning at No. 15 Boston College and at home against 12th-ranked Georgia Washington.

    The Pack's three remaining games against teams currently ranked in the top-25 are all at home (Maryland, Boston College and North Carolina).

    The Wolfpack has posted an 11-0 mark at home this season (10-0 in the RBC Center). Previously under Herb Sendek, NC State has started 14-0 at home twice (2003-04 and 1999-2000). The Wolfpack has not gone undefeated at home since the 1973-74 campaign.

    Despite out-shooting and out-rebounding the nation's top-ranked team, NC State still fell short at Duke on Wednesday. NC state has shot better than its opponent 11 times this season, but the Duke game marked the team's first loss when doing so. The Wolfpack shot 52% to Duke's 45% in the contest, connecting on two more field goals. The game marked the eighth that the Pack has shot over 50% this season (first time in a loss). The Blue Devils held State to just two three-pointers, the lowest mark for NC State against an ACC team since hitting just one against the Blue Devils on 2/22/03.

    NC State also out-rebounded Duke by one (34-33) in the loss. The Pack has now outrebounded the opponent nine times this season, but has lost just once while doing so.

    The Wolfpack has now shot over 50% in three straight games, marking the first time since the 1991-92 campaign that NC State has shot over 50% in three consecutive regular season ACC games.

    After falling from 13th to 18th in last week's AP poll, NC State climbed back up to No. 14 this week after defeating No. 15 Boston College and Georgia Tech. NC State has now been ranked in the AP top 25 for eight straight weeks. That's the most consecutive weeks the Wolfpack has been in that listing since the 1988-89 campaign, when Jim Valvano's squad was in the top-25 for the entire season. The Pack's No. 13 ranking before losing at UNC on January 7 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. NC State, which was not ranked in the preseason polls, is the second-highest ranked team in the ACC this week.

    Only eight Wolfpack players have seen action versus ACC opponents this season (right now, only nine scholarship players are healthy for NC State), with one of those players seeing just 11 minutes of action.

    Five NC State players are averaging in double figures in terms of scoring and seven are averaging at least six points per game.

    The Wolfpack has four players shooting better than 50% against the league, and three are shooting 45% or better from behind the three-point arc.

    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 two players rank among the top 25 in scoring and none in the top 15 (Cedric Simmons is 19th with 13.1 ppg, Cameron Bennerman is 25th with 11.8 ppg).

    The Pack ranks third 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 4.6 per game, but is shooting .639, a mark that would rank second in the league). State ranks fourth 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 five are shooting 73% or better.

    Seven different players have led the team in scoring this season (in 17 games). Four players are scoring in double figures (a fifth is just 0.1 from that tally) and only 4.9 points separates the team's top scorer and the team's seventh scorer.

    NC State has posted a 14-3 record, the second-best in the league, but has yet to have a player named ACC Player-of-the- Week.

    Michael Drum -- Jr., G, 6-6, Rural Hall, NC --
    Has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team with 29 assists and just 15 miscues... started last Sunday at Maryland -- his first start since Nov. 18... has scoring potential -- he scored 15 points against Texas Tech -- but that's not what he is asked to do... overcame a bruised back and hip he suffered Jan. 11 at Clemson... has committed just one turnover in his last four games combined... looking for his first three-point field goal since Dec. 30... one of Wake's best free throw shooters (78.8 percent).

    Shamaine Dukes -- Fr., G, 6-1, Cuthbert, GA -- Was taken out of the starting lineup Wednesday for the first time since Dec. 22, but his minutes remain consistent... Coming off two solid efforts against Maryland and Georgia Tech... made a three-point field goal and had just one turnover in 12 minutes against Tech... scored six points and matched a career-high with two three-point field goals at Maryland last Sunday... three of his five career three-point field goals have come over the last two games.

    Chris Ellis -- Sr., F, 6-9, Marietta, GA -- Rewarded for his consistent play by starting for the first time this season (the third time in his career) Wednesday against Georgia Tech... shooting 47.3 percent (14-of-31) from three-point range... has made more three-pointers this season than he did in his previous three seasons combined... recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds last Sunday at Maryland... scored in double figures for the first time since Dec. 13 and matched his career-high for rebounds... playing an average of 20 minutes per game... ranks second on the team with 20 blocked shots.

    Justin Gray -- Sr., G, 6-2, Charlotte, NC -- One of the hottest players in the ACC, if not all of college basketball... has scored 90 points over his last three games including a career-high 38 points at Maryland last Sunday... he scored 21 first-half points against the Terps, then managed 17 in the second period despite facing a box-in-one defense... his 38 points tied for the most by a Deacon player in the Skip Prosser era... has 13 three-point field goals (on 18 attempts) over the last two games... his assists are up too, with 18 over the last three games... he is in elite Deacon company with more than 1,600 career points, 300 assists, 200 three-point field goals and 100 steals... going to the free throw line more frequently -- he is 25-of-28 from the stripe over the last three games... received votes for ACC Player of the Week even though the Deacons went 0-2 last week... his scoring average (19.9) is Wake's highest since Tim Duncan averaged 20.8 ppg in 1997... has played an average of 38 minutes over the last five games... he was named ACC Player of the Week Dec. 5, an honor he has earned three times in his career... his 37 points against Wisconsin Nov. 29 tied a Lawrence Joel Coliseum record and also tied an ACC/Big Ten Challenge record.

    Harvey Hale -- Fr., G, 6-2, Albuquerque, NM -- Has played his best basketball since the ACC season began and the freshman is back in the starting lineup... coming off consecutive career-highs in scoring... averaging 10.0 points per game in league contests, ranking third on the team... coming off a career-high 14 points in the win over Georgia Tech Wednesday... he added four assists and two steals, but more importantly, scored six key points down the stretch... he scored a then-career-high 12 points at Maryland last Sunday and matched a career-best with two three-point field goals... playing an average of more than 24 minutes in ACC games... five of his 10 career three-pointers have come in the last four games.

    Cameron Stanley -- r-Fr., F, 6-6, Raleigh, NC -- The redshirt freshman is seeing limited, but key minutes since the ACC season began... he played just six minutes Wednesday against Georgia Tech, but snared four rebounds and made his only field goal attempt... the southpaw from Raleigh did not play at Maryland last Sunday -- the first time he has not seen action since Nov. 18... he played 14 minutes against both Duke and Clemson... helped the Deacs erase a 12-point second-half deficit against Clemson... has eight rebounds over his last two games.

    Trent Strickland -- Sr., G-F, 6-5, East Flat Rock, NC -- Broke out of a scoring slump Wednesday night against Georgia Tech with 14 points... added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block for a solid overall performance... had gone three straight games scoring in single digits until the Tech game... did not start last Sunday at Maryland for the first time all season, but returned to the starting unit Wednesday... did not start because he was late for a team function... one of the ACC's most improved players, Strickland has doubled his scoring average from a year ago... he ranks 24th in the ACC at 12.5 points per game... shooting 52.5 percent from the field... has five double-figure rebound games this season including 16 against Texas Tech on Nov. 18... made his first six three-point field goal attempts of the season and is currently shooting 38.2 percent (13-of-34) from behind the arc... has already made 13 three-point field goals, compared to just 10 all of last season... playing an average of 32.4 minutes per game (compared to 16.9 last season)... named MVP of the 2k Classic Winston-Salem Regional... named ACC Player of the Week Nov. 14.

    Kevin Swinton -- Fr., F, 6-7, Greensboro, NC -- The freshman's numbers -- 2.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg -- don't reflect how valuable he has been... playing time has increased to 12 minutes per game since ACC play began... has been solid off the bench in January... struggling at the free throw line (8-of-24).

    Kyle Visser -- Jr., C, 6-11, Grand Rapids, MI --Came off the bench Wednesday night for the first time all season... played extremely well in November and early December, but has struggled in January... has scored just 10 points over the last five games while playing an average of 13 minutes per contest... has scored in double figures just once in his last nine games... Wake's leader in blocked shots with 25... made his only three-point field goal attempt of the year, at Elon.

    Eric Williams -- Sr., C, 6-9, Wake Forest, NC --Has scored in double figures in 34 of his last 35 games... has averaged more than 17 points and 13 rebounds over his last three games... has two double-doubles over his last three contests... had 21 points (on 9-of-12 shooting) and 11 rebounds Wednesday against Georgia Tech... managed 10 points last Sunday at Maryland despite first-half foul trouble and zero first-half points... enjoyed a 22-point, career-high 20-rebound performance against Clemson Jan. 11... his 20 rebounds were the most by a player in the ACC this season, the most by a Deacon since 1997 and the most by a Clemson opponent since 1975... is a respectable 14-of-23 from the free throw line over the last four games... has scored at least nine points in every game this season.

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