Notebook: Heels Up Next

No. 14 NC State (21-5, 10-3) faces No. 21 North Carolina (17-6, 8-4) tonight in a huge ACC contest for both teams. Gametime is set for 9:00 pm, and it will be televised on Raycom/JP Sports.

NOTING THE PACK
  • No Wolfpack player has averaged in double-figures for his career against UNC.
  • Tony Bethel is shooting .558 from behind the three-point arc in ACC games.
  • NC State has hit 61 three-pointers in the last five games - no less than 12 in any of those contests.
  • Cam Bennerman has reached double figures in 20 straight games.
  • With three games left in the regular season, the Wolfpack has 21 wins - most in a regular season since 1981-82.
  • NC State has not lost back-to-back games all year. The last time a Wolfpack squad finished the regular season without back-to-back losses was 1973-74.
  • NC State ranks second in the ACC in scoring offense against league teams (77.5 ppg).
  • The Wolfpack posts a 19-0 record when leading with five minutes remaining in the game, 0-4 when trailing and 1-1 when tied.
  • The Wolfpack is ranked in the top-25 of the AP poll for the 13th straight week - it's longest stay since 1988-89.
  • The Wolfpack posts a 32-9 record when Tony Bethel is a starter.
  • Five Wolfpack players are averaging double figures in terms of scoring.
  • The Wolfpack leads the ACC in field goal percentage defense (.398).
  • Cedric Simmons already ranks eighth in school history in career blocked shots (108).

    NC STATE VERSUS NORTH CAROLINA
    Wednesday's meeting will mark the 208th between NC State and North Carolina in the series that dates back to the 1912-13 season. The Wolfpack has faced just two other teams, Duke and Wake Forest, more times than the Tar Heels.

    UNC holds a 133-74 lead in the series and has won 21 of the last 29 meetings between the teams. The Tar Heels have won the last five matchups, while the Wolfpack had won the previous four. That marked the most consecutive wins for State over Carolina since the 1970s.

    EARLIER THIS SEASON
    The Wolfpack ended a seven-game win streak on January 7 with an 82-69 loss to North Carolina. The Pack started the game on an 11-0 run and led 39-36 at halftime, but UNC's hot shooting from the field (.609) and even hotter shooting from the line (.929) ended up being the difference. The score was tied at the 3:10 mark, before Carolina went on a 13-0 run to end the game. Ilian Evtimov, whose brother Vasco played in Chapel Hill, was the Pack's leading scorer with 15 points and three other State players also reached double figures.

    WOLFPACK ENTERS HOME STRETCH
    With three games remaining in the 2005-06 regular season, NC State has posted 21 victories. That marks the most regular season wins for NC State since the 1981-82 campaign, when Jim Valvano's squad posted a 21-8 mark in the regular season (22-10 overall).

    The Wolpack has now posted its third consecutive 20-win season and the fifth in the last seven years. The win over Florida State on Feb. 15 brought the Wolfpack to 20 wins in the fewest games since the 1973-74 season, when the Pack opened at 20-1.

    With at least four games left to play, NC State has tied the win total of the Pack's last two seasons. (NC State advanced to the Sweet 16 last year) and needs two victories to tie the best tally ever under Herb Sendek (23-11 in 2001-02).

    RANKED OPPONENTS TO VISIT RBC
    The Wolfpack will play back-to-back contests against teams ranked in the top 25 this week, as No. 21 North Carolina visits the RBC Center on Wednesday night and No. 11 Boston College will be in town on Saturday. The Wolfpack also faced those two opponents in back-to-back road games earlier this season, losing at No. 25 UNC on Jan. 7 and defeating No. 15 BC on Jan. 10. UNC and BC are the first two ranked ACC opponents to visit the RBC Center this season. The Pack defeated 12th-ranked George Washington at home in late December, the Colonials' only loss this season.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HERB
    Herb Sendek would like nothing more than to celebrate his 43rd birthday with a win over North Carolina. Sendek, now in his 10th season at NC State, was the youngest coach in the ACC when he came to the Wolfpack. Now he is still the third-youngest coach in the league, but boasts the third-longest tenure among current league coaches.

    Sendek has posted a 2-2 record on his birthday as the head coach at NC State and this season will mark the fourth straight that he has celebrated his birthday by facing a ranked opponent.

    FIVE IN DOUBLE FIGURES
    Tony Bethel's 19-point performance in the win at Virginia Tech was not only one of the best of his career, but it also helped the Wolfpack achieve something as a team. NC State now has five players averaging double-figures this season. The Wolfpack's top-five scorers now range from Bethel's 10.2 points per game to Cameron Bennerman's 13.7 points per game, a difference of only 3.5 points between No. 1 and No. 5.

    NC State is one of only two ACC teams with five players currently averaging in double figures (Maryland is the other).

    SENDEK MOVING UP CHARTS
    Herb Sendek needs just one victory to tie Everett Case for 14th place on the all-time ACC career wins list (wins at an ACC school while the school was in the league).

    Sendek currently boasts 190 wins with the Wolfpack, while Case had 191 in the 10 years the Wolfpack was in the ACC while he was the head coach.

    The 43-year-old Sendek ranks third among current league coaches in victories at their schools, trailing only Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Maryland's Gary Williams. With Saturday's win over Virginia Tech, Sendek passed Jim Valvano on the NC State list for ACC wins. He has won 72 league games at NC State, while Valvano won 71. Sendek ranks behind Case (89) and Norm Sloan (103).

    PACK BLOWS LEADS, BUT WINS GAMES
    NC State has held double-digit leads in the second half of four conference games this season that have been cut to single digits later in the game. However, in all four of those contests, the Wolfpack has hung on to win.

    NC State was up 18 at the half in Saturday's win over Virginia Tech and even went up as much as 22 before Tech cut it to two with under a minute to play.

    HOME SWEET HOME
    NC State has won all six of its ACC home games this season, in a year when ACC teams are struggling at home. State and Duke are the only league teams that have not dropped a league home game this season.

    The Pack enters the North Carolina game with a 4-3 record in ACC road games, posting wins at No. 15 Boston College, Clemson (2OT) Miami (2OT) and Virginia Tech and losing at No. 1 Duke, No. 25 North Carolina and at Georgia Tech.

    THE BOUNCE-BACK PACK
    One of the Wolfpack's team goals this season is that if the team does lose (obviously a bigger goal is not to lose!), never to lose back-to-back games. So far in 2005-06, NC State has accomplished that goal. The squad's five losses have all been followed by wins and all three conference losses have been followed by double-digit wins. The margin of victory in the games following NC State's three conference losses has been 16.7 points.

    The Wolfpack followed the loss at then-No. 25 UNC (69-82) with a 78-60 win at then-No. 15 BC. After falling to then-top-ranked Duke (68-81), NC State won 92-82 over Wake Forest. And following the squad's loss last week at Georgia Tech (68-71), State thrashed Florida State, 86-64.

    The win over Florida State marked the Wolfpack's largest margin of victory over an ACC opponent since Feb. 2, 2003, when the Pack defeated Clemson, 78-56. The last time NC State finished the season without back-to-back losses was 1973-74.

    EVTIMOV INJURES FOOT
    Senior forward Ilian Evtimov, a key to the Wolfpack's intricate offense, suffered a foot injury in the first half of the Florida State game. He was taken in for X-rays and then later for an MRI, which showed no fractures or torn ligaments.

    The injury has been diagnosed as a sprain of the Lisfranc ligament. Evtimov, who spent much of his life living in France, was pleased to learn that the ligament is named after Jacques Lisfranc, who was a surgeon in Napolean's army. Lisfranc treated this injury that was common among soldiers whose feet got stuck in the stirrups when they were thrown from their horses in battle.

    Evtimov, missed the game at Virginia Tech and his status will be reevaluated on a day-to-day basis. He is no stranger to injury, however, as he missed his entire sophomore campaign after tearing his ACL in a preseason scrimmage. He injured his other knee the summer before his redshirt junior campaign and spent months rehabbing.

    Ironically, in spite of all the injuries that Evtimov has battled through, he had never missed a game due to an injury (not counting, obviously, the entire season he say out) before Saturday.

    Evtimov was coming off one of the best performances of his career in the loss at Georgia Tech, where he fell just one rebound and one assist shy of a triple double. "Shoush" led the team with 17 points on 7-11 shooting, went 3-5 from beyond the arc, pulled down nine rebounds, dished out nine assists (to just two turnovers) and had two steals in a game-high 38 minutes of play. His 38 minutes of action tied as the longest of the season for Evtimov in a non-overtime game.

    GETTING OFFENSIVE
    Although many believe erroneously that the NC STATE offense (which although it may have elements of some other famous offenses is uniquely its own) is a low-scoring one, the 2005-06 Wolfpack has proven that to be a misconception. In its 13 ACC games this season, the Wolfpack has averaged 77.5 points, second only to Duke in the conference standings. NC State's +5.5 scoring margin in league contests and .490 field goal percentage both ranks second only to Duke, while the Pack is leading the league in three-point shooting percentage (.457) in conference games.


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