Notebook: Pack Ready To Face Tech

No. 15 NC State (19-4, 8-2) faces Georgia Tech (9-12, 2-8) tomorrow in a huge ACC contest for both teams. Gametime is set for 1:00 pm, and it will be televised on Raycom-Jefferson Pilot.

Sunday's matchup will mark the 80th meeting between NC State and Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack leads the overall series 48-31.

NC State has won the last 10 games against Georgia Tech in Raleigh, 12 of the last 14 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 seven 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. That seven-game win streak is the longest current streak for the Wolfpack over any other ACC opponent.

Although the Wolfpack has won each of the last seven 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 seven games was 6.4 points.

The Wolfpack won by nine in Raleigh on January 14 of this year. Last season, NC State won by two in Atlanta and by eight at home.

NC State has now played four extra innings this season - going into double-overtime twice in the last four games.

This marks the first time since the 1988-89 campaign that the Wolfpack has played more than one double overtime game (that season, the Pack won in 4 OTs against Wake Forest and in two against Iowa).

NC State has now played 900 minutes in the last four games.

In the last four games, five Wolfpack players have averaged over 33 minutes and and four have averaged 36 or more minutes.

The Wolpack enters the Georgia Tech game with a 19-4 record, one win away from posting its third consecutive 20-win season and the fifth in the last seven years. A win over the Yellow Jackets would bring the Wolfpack to 20 wins in fewer games than since the 1973-74 season, when the Pack opened at 20-1. NC State is two wins away from last year's win total (when the Pack advanced to the Sweet 16) and needs four wins to tie the best tally ever under Herb Sendek (23-11 in 2001-02).

NC State will have at least seven more chances to add to its win total this season (six regular season games remain, plus at least one ACC Tournament contest).

Following a dismal loss to Seton Hall on January 25, the Wolfpack has strung together four straight victories (two of which were won in double-overtime). NC State has won its last five ACC games (the last loss was at then-number-one Duke on Jan. 18).

NC State also won five consecutive league games in 2003-04, but has not won more than five ACC games in a row since the 1973-74 National Championship campaign.

The Wolfpack has won three ACC road games this season.

NC State games are the stuff that TV networks' dreams are made of - at least they have been of late. The Wolfpack has won each of its last four games, but two have gone into double-overtime and the other two were decided by margins of two and four points.

NC State went into the halftime break at Miami with an 11-point lead due to hot three-point shooting. But the Wolfpack left town with a double-overtime victory due to hot shooting at the charity stripe. The Wolfpack shot 88% (22-25) from the line, its best free throw percentage of the season. Even more impressive is that the Wolfpack hit all six of its attempts in the second overtime, was 4-5 in the first OT and 9-10 in the last three minutes of regulation. In the four overtime periods the Pack has played this year (two versus Clemson, two versus Miami, the team has shot .793 (23-29) from the stripe. NC State ranks third in the ACC in free throw percentage with a .744 mark. The Wolfpack set a school record last season with 294 free throws made and set a single-game record earlier this season wtih 37 free throws made against Wake Forest. So far this season, the Pack has made 212 free throws.

Thirty-six percent of the Wolfpack's scoring (636 points) this season has come from behind the three-point arc and State leads the ACC with 9.2 three pointers per game (9.6 vs. ACC). The Wolfpack is currently shooting .387 from beyond the arc - a mark with would rank as the best since 1991 (.415) if the season ended today. Herb Sendek's squad has posted 11 double-digit three-point outings this season and has done so in six of its 10 conference games. The Wolfpack has averaged 10.1 (191 total) three-pointers made per game in its 19 wins, just 5.3 in its four losses. Three Wolfpack players rank in the top 10 in the ACC in three-pointers made per game. Tony Bethel is sixth with 2.23, Engin Atsür is seventh with 2.13, and Ilian Evtimov is eighth with 2.09. Bethel's .525 mark on three's versus ACC competition leads the league. In the conference opener against Miami, the Pack shot .667 (12-18) from behind the arc, its best three-point shooting percentage since a .722 (13-18) mark against Virginia on March 8, 2002. The Wolfpack had another dozen three's at Miami (and also had a dozen in last year's loss to the 'Canes).

Against Miami, it was Cameron Bennerman. For the two games prior, it was Tony Bethel. The game before that it was Ilian Evtimov and a few games before that it was Cedric Simmons. You just never know which Wolfpack player is going to step up and lead the team in the scoring category on any given night. The concept of a 'team without stars' is serving the Wolfpack well this season, as the team has won 19 games. Seven different players have led the team in scoring this season (in 23 games and there are only nine scholarship players in action). Four players are scoring in double figures (five against ACC competition) and only 4.4 points separate the team's top scorer and the team's sixth scorer. NC State has not had the same leading scorer in more than two straight contests all year (and someone has led in back-to-back games just twice). NC State has posted a 19-4 record (8-2 in the ACC), the second-best in the league, but has yet to have a player named ACC Player-of-the-Week.

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