Location: Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Tip-Off: 4:00 p.m.
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
4 Harvey Hale (6-2, 186, Fr.) – 6.3 ppg, 2.7 apg 1 Justin Gray (6-2, 194, Sr.) – 18.4 ppg, 3.6 apg 33 Trent Strickland (6-5, 216, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg 00 Chris Ellis (6-9, 267, Sr.) – 4.4 ppg, 4.1 31 Eric Williams (6-9, 280, Sr.) - 16.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg
Players to Watch
Tony Bethel -- Bethel leads the ACC in 3-point shooting and the Wolfpack will need a big game from the senior.
Justin Gray -- Gray is Wake's go-to player, and on Senior Day he will be looking to put up huge numbers in his final home outing.
NC STATE GAME NOTES
THE SERIES VS WAKE FOREST
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 218 times over 96 years, and NC State leads the overall series 126-92.
The Pack holds an 87-54 advantage of games played in Raleigh, and also holds a 13-7 edge when the two teams have faced off on a neutral court. Wake Forest has emerged victorious 31 times in the 57 games played in Winston-Salem (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. With the win earlier this season in Raleigh, the Wolfpack has now won five of the last seven match-ups against Wake, but has lost 13 or the last 15 contests played on the Deacons' home court.
PACK COMES BACK IN FIRST GAME VERSUS DEACS
Prior to NC State's first meeting with on January 21, the Wolfpack's largest halftime deficit in a game all season had been three points in the loss at Iowa. Prior to the first Wake game, the Pack had trailed just one other time (NC State trailed at home against Georgia Tech by one and came back to win - in the other two losses at the time, UNC and Duke, the Pack had led at the half).
NC State had trailed by as many as 13, twice in the first half against Wake Forest and the Deacons' five-point lead at halftime was the Pack's largest halftime hole of the year at that point. The Wolfpack shot .583 after the break and held Wake to just .368 from the field to come back and win by 10.
The Wolfpack's 37 free throws made in the contest was a school record.
DEACONS DOMINATE PACK ON BOARDS
NC State posted a 10-point win over Wake Forest in the meeting earlier this season, despite being outrebounded by a whopping 18 (by 15 in the first half). The last time the Wolfpack had been so soundly outrebounded was on December 17, 2002, when Gonzaga posted 61 caroms to State's 35 in a 69-60 Zags win.
NC State had not been outrebounded by such a large margin and WON the game since January 13, 1971, when Duke out-boarded the Pack, 55-36, but NC State won 93-89.
The Wolfpack out-boarded the Deacons by one (31-30) in last year's win in the ACC Tournament, but in the two regular season losses to Wake was outrebounded by 69-51. In fact, before the Wolfpack's one-rebound lead in last year's tournament win, Wake Forest had outrebounded NC State in five straight games.
WOLFPACK TAKES MUCH-NEEDED BREAK
NC State finally got a much needed break in its schedule this week, with six days off between the games with Boston College and Wake Forest. Since Christmas, the most days NC State has had between games has been three.
The Wolfpack won't play its first ACC Tournament game until Friday, March 10 - giving NC State just two games in 14 days.
The break comes at a good time for the Pack, as Ilian Evtimov continues to recover from a foot sprain and Cameron Bennerman is rehabbing a pulled hamstring.
NC State has now played six extra innings this season - going into double-overtime three times - twice on the road. Fortunately, the Wolfpack was able to emerge victorious from two of those contests.
The Wolfpack was up 10 in the second half at Clemson and 15 in the second half against Miami, but ended up winning both games by nine points. NC State trailed Boston College for most of the game until the 6:43 mark in the second half and went up as much as six.
This marks the first time in school history that the Wolfpack had three double (or more) overtime games and the first time since 1988-89 campaign that the Wolfpack has played more than one double overtime game in a season.
Saturday's game marked the first home overtime game for NC State under Herb Sendek (and the first since 1995-96). The Wolfpack has not won an overtime game at home since the 1984-85 season.
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 10.0 points per game to Cameron Bennerman's 13.5 points per game, a difference of only 3.5 points between No. 1 and No. 5.
NC State and Maryland are the only two ACC teams with five players currently averaging in double figures heading into this weekend's games.
THE BOUNCE-BACK PACK?
The double- overtime loss to 11th-ranked Boston College on Saturday marked the first time all season that NC State had posted back-to-back losses. One of the Wolfpack's team goals this season was that if the team did lose (obviously a bigger goal is not to lose!), never to lose back-to-back games.
Prior to Saturday, NC State had accomplished that goal. The squad's five previous losses have all been followed by wins and all three previous conference losses had been followed by double-digit wins. The margin of victory in the games following NC State's three previous conference losses had been 16.7 points before the two-point double-overtime loss to the Eagles.
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 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.
NC State has not finished the season without back-to-back losses was 1973-74.
REGULAR SEASON NOT SO REGULAR
With just one game 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 1987-88 campaign, when Jim Valvano's squad posted a 23-6 mark in the regular season (24-8 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 two 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).
WAKE FOREST GAME NOTES
Deacons Will Be The No. 12 Seed In The ACC Tournament
Wake Forest will be the No. 12 seed next week when the ACC Tournament begins at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Demon Deacons will play the No. 5 seed, which could be any of a number of teams, Thursday at approximately 2:20 p.m. The winner of that game will face the No. 4 seed on Friday. Florida State (7-7), Virginia (7-7), Miami (7-7) and Maryland (6-8) are vying for the No. 5 seed. Duke will be the No. 1 seed. NC State, North Carolina and Boston College have also clinched first-round byes.
Deacons Hope To Be Cinderella At The ACC Tournament
When Wake Forest takes to the floor March 9 at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, the Deacons will be in the unfamiliar role of having to win the tournament to get an NCAA Tournament bid. Wake has gone to the NCAA Tournament each of the previous five seasons despite advancing no further than the ACC Tournament semifinals. The Deacons have won the ACC Tournament four times -- 1961, 1962, 1995 and 1996. In each of those seasons, Wake Forest was seeded first or second.
While Wake has never won the ACC Tournament seeded lower than second, the Deacons have historically made plenty of noise in the tournament as a low seed:
The Deacons On Senior Day And In Regular Season Finales
Wake Forest has won seven of its last eight regular season finales, including a 6-1 mark against NC State. Wake's only blemish during that span was a loss to NC State in 2004. Wake Forest has won 11 of its last 13 Senior Day games (last home game). The Deacons beat Georgia Tech on Senior Day last season, 98-91. NC State spoiled Senior Day in 2004.
Gray Leaving Mark On Record Books
Justin Gray will leave Wake Forest with his name etched firmly in the Demon Deacon record books. When Gray's college career is over, he will rank among the top 10 all-time in Wake Forest history in at least nine different career categories. He is Wake's ninth-leading all-time scorer with 1,860 career points. Gray will also finish in the top 10 all-time in field goal attempts, free throws, three-point field goals, three-point attempts, assists, steals, games started and minutes played.
Quick Player Updates
Michael Drum -- Jr., G, 6-6, Rural Hall, NC The non-scholarship junior has started 10 times this season... played a season-low nine minutes and did not score at Boston College Tuesday... his free throw percentage is up to 80.4 percent and he hasn't missed from the line in more than a month (Jan. 24)... ranks third on the team with 22 three-pointers... has the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team with 50 assists and 35 miscues.
Shamaine Dukes -- Fr., G, 6-1, Cuthbert, GA His playing time has dwindled... played two minutes at BC Tuesday and three minutes with no stats last Saturday at Georgia Tech... started at the point five times earlier this season.
Chris Ellis -- Sr., F, 6-9, Marietta, GA Came off the bench to play 19 minutes Tuesday at Boston College... did not attempt a field goal but went 5-of-6 from the free throw line and blocked one shot... in a scoring slump recently with just 25 points over the last 11 games... plays an average of 18.4 minutes per game... shooting 40.0 percent (16-of-40) from three-point range... has made more three-pointers this season than he did in his previous three seasons combined... ranks third on the team with 30 blocked shots.
Justin Gray -- Sr., G, 6-2, Charlotte, NC The All-American candidate leads the team in scoring (18.4 ppg) and is averaging 19.9 ppg in ACC contests... has scored in double figures in 27 of his 28 games this season... held to 10 points, but dished out five assists and had one steal Tuesday at Boston College... did not play against Virginia Tech Jan. 28 because of a stomach virus... is the target of opposing defenses... leads the team in scoring, three-point field goals, free throws, free throw percentage and assists... scored a career-high 38 points at Maryland Jan. 15... his 38 points tied for the most by a Deacon player in the Skip Prosser era... his assists are up too, ranking fourth in the ACC in league games only... he is in elite Deacon company with more than 1,800 career points, 300 assists, 200 three-point field goals and 100 steals... going to the free throw line frequently -- he is 61-of-72 (.847) from the stripe since Jan. 11... 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 Joel Coliseum record and an ACC/Big Ten Challenge record.
Harvey Hale -- Fr., G, 6-2, Albuquerque, NM Has been a pleasant surprise for the Deacons and has emerged as a candidate for the ACC All-Freshman team... returned to the starting lineup Tuesday at Boston College... recorded eight points and four assists against the Eagles... has scored in double figures in six of his last 14 games... averaging 8.3 ppg in ACC play... has started 16 games... playing an average of 25 minutes in ACC games.
Cameron Stanley -- r-Fr., F, 6-6, Raleigh, NC The southpaw is coming off a career-high 10 points at Boston College Tuesday... went 4-of-6 from the field, grabbed six rebounds, made a three-point field goal and blocked a shot against the Eagles... playing 14 minutes per game over the last five contests... seems to be playing more comfortably as his freshman season progresses... seeing limited but important minutes for the Deacons.
Trent Strickland -- Sr., G-F, 6-5, East Flat Rock, NC One of the ACC's most improved players this season... led the team with 15 points and went 3-of-4 from three-point range Tuesday at Boston College... ranked 14th in the ACC in rebounding (6.7)... has 19 three-point field goals over the last 10 games and is 36-of-74 (.484) from behind the arc this season... has four double-doubles on the season... has doubled his scoring average from a year ago... ranks 20th in the ACC at 12.6 points per game... has five double-figure rebound games this season including 16 against Texas Tech on Nov. 18... has made 36 three-point field goals, compared to just 10 all of last season... playing an average of 32.6 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 Came off the bench Tuesday at Boston College after starting the previous five games... played just eight minutes and had one point against the Eagles... gives the Deacons strength and athleticism in the paint... the freshman's numbers -- 2.7 ppg and 3.7 rpg -- don't accurately reflect how valuable he has been... struggles at the free throw line (40.9 percent), but has made four of his last six attempts.
Kyle Visser -- Jr., C, 6-11, Grand Rapids, MI Made his first starting appearance since Jan. 15 Tuesday at Boston College... played 22 minutes, scored six points and dished out two assists against the Eagles... has not scored in double figures since Dec. 30... started the first 16 games of the season... played extremely well in November and early December, but has struggled since... Wake's leader in blocked shots with 37... made his only three-point attempt of the year, at Elon.
Eric Williams -- Sr., C, 6-9, Wake Forest, NC Has scored in double figures in 46 of his last 47 games and in 25 straight contests... was plagued with foul trouble Tuesday night at Boston College but managed 10 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot... had a double-double with 24 points and 15 rebounds at Georgia Tech last Saturday... has eight double-doubles on the year including seven over his last 15 games... leads the ACC and ranks 11th nationally in field goal percentage (.616)... 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... has scored at least nine points in every game this season.
Williams ... Gray
Strickland ... Ellis
Wake Forest athletics contributed to this story.