Gameday: NC State vs. Georgia Tech

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

Game Tracker I Premium Chat

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Tip-Off: 1:00 p.m.

Television: Raycom-Jeffersion Pilot

Radio: Airtime begins @ 12:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information

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    Georgia Tech Information

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    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 05 Mario West G 33 Lewis Clinch C 04 Ra'Sean Dickey F 32 Jeremis Smith F 23 Anthony Morrow

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    Cameron Bennerman --
    The athletic senior scored 23 points to lead the Pack over Miami on Wed. and made 8-of-9 free throws. Bennerman leads the team in scoring (13.2) and over his last 17 games has averaged 15.0 points a game (255) while shooting 55 percent from the field during that span (96-of-175). The Greensboro native is one of the Pack's better free throw shooters (.853).

    Georgia Tech
    Ra'Sean Dickey --
    Dickey has averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds over his last nine games, shooting 66.3 percent and posting three double-doubles. In conference games, he has made 63.1 percent, which leads the ACC.

    NC STATE GAME NOTES
    NC STATE VERSUS GEORGIA TECH
    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.

    PACK HOLDS LONGEST STREAK OVER JACKETS
    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.

    PACK AND JACKETS PLAY IT CLOSE
    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.

    WOLFPACK PLAYS OVERTIME
    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.

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

    NC STATE LOOKING FOR 20th VICTORY
    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).

    FOUR IN A ROW FOR WOLFPACK
    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.

    MADE FOR TV
    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.

    PACK IS FINE AT THE LINE
    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.

    GIVE ME A THREE
    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).

    WHO WILL IT BE?
    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.

    GEORGIA TECH GAME NOTES

    With its longest losing streak since the 1980-81 season now at eight games, Georgia Tech returns home to face the team that began the slide, NC State, at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

    The game is being regionally televised on the Raycom/JP Sports television network, and will air in Atlanta on WATL-TV (WB36). Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard locally on WQXI-AM (790), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 191.

    Tech (9-12 overall, 2-8 ACC this season) has not won since an 85-69 decision over Centenary on Jan. 10, which followed a 2-0 start in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets remain a game outside last place in the conference standings, a spot held by Wake Forest (1-9).

    NC State (19-4, 8-2 ACC), ranked No. 16 in the AP poll, comes to Atlanta with its best start under head coach Herb Sendek, having won four straight games to solidify its hold on second place in the ACC race. The Wolfpack has won those four games by an average of six points, with two of those needing two overtimes each to decide.

    The Yellow Jackets' have fared better on the road than at home during their stretch, having lost the five road games by an average of 5.6 points, last three by a TOTAL of four points. It has been a different story at home, however, those three games having been decided by 13 points.

    In the first meeting between Tech and NC State this year, the Yellow Jackets shot 51.6 percent from the floor, put five players in double figure scoring and committed a season-low 11 turnovers. But the Wolfpack buried 13 of 27 three-point attempts and placed six players in double figures. State scored eight straight points after Tech had taken a 61-60 lead at the 8:14 mark of the second half, and the Jackets never got closer than five points after that.

    For the fourth time, Tech will attempt to win its 500th game all-time in Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets have a record of 499-170 (.747 winning percentage) in the building, which opened Nov. 30, 1956.

    Georgia Tech's eight straight losses have come in a variety of ways. Thursday's loss to Florida State occurred after the Yellow Jackets held a 14-point lead (70-56) with 9:17 left. In five of the eight losses, Tech has led (four times) or been tied (Miami) at the half.

    Tech continues to handicap itself on offense with turnovers (19.3 per game over the last eight, 26 at FSU, 27 vs. Clemson). Tech has endured long second-half scoring droughts in some of its losses (one field goal over an 11:35 stretch against Maryland, one over a 12:53 stretch against Clemson, scoreless over a five-minute stretch at Virginia Tech, one FG over a 9:27 stretch against Miami). Tech scored just 20 points in the second half of home-court losses to Clemson and Miami.

    In an effort to reverse the trend, head coach Paul Hewitt inserted three different players in the starting lineup for the Florida State game, creating the Yellow Jackets' sixth different starting lineup this season. Sophomore guard Anthony Morrow and sophomore centerRa'Sean Dickey remain in the lineup, and were joined by junior guard Mario West, senior forward Theodis Tarver and freshman guard Lewis Clinch.

    The revamped lineup produced better aggressiveness and offensive punch, with the Jackets hitting 50.9 percent of their field goals, best since the NC State game on Jan. 14, and made 11-of-18 three-point shots, a 61.1-percent rate that was the best the Jackets have achieved in a game under Paul Hewitt. Tech scored 38 of its 79 points in the paint.

    The brightest spot for Georgia Tech over the last several games has been the emergence of sophomore center Ra'Sean Dickey, who has averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds over his last nine games, shooting 66.3 percent and posting three double-doubles.

    The 6-9 native of Clio, S.C., is averaging 12.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for the season, ranking second in the ACC in field goal percentage (60.9 pct.). In conference games, he has made 63.1 percent, which leads the ACC.

    Anthony Morrow, the ACC's second-leading three-point shooter, has been the only player to start all 21 games this season, giving Dickey and Tech's other post players room to operate inside. A 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., Morrow ranks 10th in the ACC in scoring at 16.8 points, and is second in the conference with a 43.9-percent success rate from three-point range. One of three Tech players averaging in double figures, Morrow has averaged 16.0 points and shoots 43.9 percent from three-point range in ACC games.

    Mario West, a 6-4 junior from Douglasville, Ga., who is Tech's best on-the-ball defender, is back in the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 28. West, who shares point guard time with sophomore Zam Frederick, averaged 5.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and owns Tech's best assist-turnover ratio.

    Also in the starting five are Theodis Tarver, a 6-9 senior from Monroe, La., who started eight games earlier in the year, and Lewis Clinch, a 6-3 freshman from Cordele, Ga., who made his first college start Thursday at FSU. Tarver gives the Jackets a strong defensive presence in the post while averaging 3.7 points (54.7 FG pct.) and 3.0 rebounds. Clinch, the ACC's fifth-leading freshman scorer (7.5 ppg) gives Tech an additional outside shooting threat (42.9 pct. in ACC games).

    Off the bench in the post, Tech has Jeremis Smith, a 6-6 sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas, who started Tech's first 20 games this season and has posted eight double-doubles. Fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap that sidelined him for 17 games last year, Smith averages 12.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, second best in the ACC.

    On the perimeter, Fredrick, a 6-0 sophomore from St. Matthews, S.C., has started 18 games this season, averaged 9.6 points a game and shot better than 42 percent from three-point range over his last 12 games. D'Andre Bell, a 6-5 wingman from Los Angeles, Calif., has started 11 games at a wing spot, averaging 4.2 points and 2.0 rebounds for the season.


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