Gameday: NC State vs. Wofford

NC State kicks off the basketball season tonight against Wofford.

Location: RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m.

Television: None

Radio: Airtime begins @ 6:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information


    Wofford Information


    NC State Projected Starting Line-up
    G Engin Atsur
    G Courtney Fells
    G Gavin Grant
    F Brandon Costner
    F Ben McCauley

    Wofford Projected Starting Line-up
    F- 04 Matt O'Connor 6-8, 215, SR 3.9 ppg. 2.5 rpg.
    F- 20 Eric Marshall 6-4, 200, SR 12.8 ppg. 4.8 rpg.
    C- 25 Tyler Whatley 6-9, 220, SO 1.9 ppg. 1.1 rpg.
    G- 02 Drew Gibson 6-6, 195, JR 6.8 ppg. 4.1 apg.
    G- 05 Shane Nichols 6-3, 185, JR 13.8 ppg. 1.8 rpg. 3.8 apg.

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    Gavin Grant --
    Grant looks poised to have a breakout season playing in Sidney Lowe's system. Expect him to come out and try to continue his strong play against Wofford.

    Eric Marshall --
    Marshall was injured last season against Clemson and missed the rest of the year. The 6'4 senior is explosive and will be counted on to provide scoring for his team.

    NC State Game Notes
    NC State begins a new era on Friday night, as Sidney Lowe will stand on the Wolfpack sidelines at the RBC Center for his first regular season game. Lowe, whose jersey hangs in the rafters of the arena, is the 18th head men's basketball coach in school history and although he has been in the coaching profession for 16 years, he has never been a head coach on the collegiate level. An All-ACC point guard for NC State in 1983, Lowe served as the head coach of two different NBA teams. The 1981 and 1983 ACC leader in assists, Lowe still holds the ACC record for assist-to-turnover ratio with a 2.94 mark.

    The Wolfpack will be looking to extend an impressive streak in Friday's game versus Wofford, as NC State has won the past 12 season openers with a whopping 23.8 margin of victory. The Pack has not dropped the first game of the season since a 94-80 loss to open 1993-94 against Weber State in Alaska, and the last time the Pack fell at home to open the season was in 1992-93.

    Not only has the NC State team had success in season openers, but the Wolfpack's head coaches have been successful in their first outings with the Pack as well. You have to go all the way back to the 1940-41 season to find the last time an NC State coach did not win his very first game, when Bob Warren lost to Clemson. The last seven NC State coaches have all secured a win in their NC State debuts.

    The Wolfpack managed victories in both of its exhibition games of the 2006-07 campaign, mainly due to accurate shooting. In the two games combined, NC State shot .510 from the field, hitting 52 of 102 shots. On Friday, November 3, Sidney Lowe's team defeated Northern State, 78-71. On November 7, the Pack won 87-76 over St. Augustine's College.

    The only returning starter for the Wolfpack, Engin Atsür, has missed practice time and the Wolfpack's first exhibition game while battling chronic tendinitis in his achilles, a problem he's dealt with since junior high school. He began limited practice on Nov 1 and was able to play in the first half of the Wolfpack's exhibition game on Tuesday night. In fact, he played all 20 minutes of the first half, but as planned did not see action in the second half. Atsür played almost a second entire season with the Turkish National team in the FIBA World Championships, so he did not have much time to recover from the 2005-06 season.

    NC State won its two exhibition games this season in large part due to the exhibition put on by junior Gavin Grant. Grant seems poised to start off his junior season the way he ended his sophomore campaign (averaging 16.3 points in the last four games). In the Wolfpack's two exhibition contests, Grant averaged 25 points and 7.5 rebounds, dished out 14 assists (to just nine turnovers), blocked five shots and had two steals. He shot a whopping 72% from the field (13-18) and went 3-5 from behind the three-point arc.

    Lanky sophomore guard Courtney Fells averaged just 7.7 minutes per game during his rookie campaign, but could be called upon to play a key role in the fate of this year's team. In the first exhibition game against Northern State, Fells couldn't FIND the basket, as he hit just one of his 10 field goal attempts (he was accurate on all six of his free throws). In the second outing against St. Augustine's, however, the shots started to fall. He connected on 7-9 shots for the game, including 6-7 in the second half (he was 3-4 from behind the three-point arc after the break as well). Fells, who ended up with 17 points in Tuesday night's exhibition, averaged just 2.2 points per game last year.

    Brandon Costner's freshman campaign did not go anything like he had planned. After playing in just five games, the forward was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his upper leg, and ended up receiving a medical hardship. The good news is that Costner has four years of eligibility remaining and seems to be injury-free as the season opens. Costner struggled shooting the ball in the two exhibition games (4-16), but was the Pack's leading rebounder - averaging 9.5 per contest.

    The Wolfpack will see its first ACC action on December 3, when Sidney Lowe's squad travels to Virginia to compete in the first league game to be played in the Cavaliers' new arena. This year will mark the earliest NC State has started conference play since the 1967-68 campaign (that year, Norm Sloan's squad played Wake Forest on Dec. 2). NC State did play against conference teams as early as December 1 in the 1970s, but those games were part of the Big Four Tournament, which did not count into the teams' league records.

    Wofford Game Notes

  • The Storyline: Wofford will open the 2006-07 basketball season by visiting North Carolina State on Friday at 7:00 . . . The game will be played in the RBC Center in Raleigh . . . It marks the earliest season opener in history for the Terriers . . . The previous earliest season-opener was just last year when the Terriers played Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 12, 2005 . . . Wofford is coming off an 11-18 season in 2005-06 but return nine lettermen and four players with starting experience.

  • Coaches: Wofford's Mike Young is in his fifth season as Wofford's head coach and has a record of 48-67 . . . Young is in his 18th season overall, having spent 13 years as an assistant coach to Richard Johnson . . . Young is a native of Radford, VA and a 1986 graduate of Emory & Henry where he was a four-year letterman and team captain as a junior and senior . . . After two years as an assistant coach at Emory & Henry, Young served as an assistant coach to Oliver Purnell at Radford for one year before joining the Wofford staff in 1989.

    North Carolina State head coach Sidney Lowe is in his first season at his alma mater . . . Lowe was the point guard on N.C. State's 1983 national championship team and played in the NBA for four seasons . . . He has spent the majority of his coaching career in the NBA including stints as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies.

  • Series: North Carolina State holds an 8-1 advantage in the series that dates back to the 1920-21 season . . . Wofford's lone win came in 1934-35 when the Terriers posted a 37-33 win over the Pack in Raleigh . . . N.C. State has won seven straight from Wofford . . . The last meeting, on Dec. 29, 2002, resulted in an 86-71 N.C. State victory.

  • Last Meeting: Julius Hodge scored 26 points and had 11 rebounds to lead 24th-ranked North Carolina State to an 86-71 win over Wofford on Dec. 29, 2002 at the RBC Center . . . Lee Nixon led the Terriers with 15 points while Mike Lenzly contributed 14 . . . The Terriers were 0-for-8 from three-point range.

  • What About Wofford? Wofford, located in Spartanburg, SC, is among the smallest colleges in NCAA Division 1. There are about 1,200 students at the school. Wofford is a liberal arts college -- all undergrads -- and prides itself in a strong academic atmosphere. Wofford athletes have high graduation rates (ranked in the top 10 nationally at times in recent years) and meet normal requirements for admission.

  • NBA Connection: Norm Nixon, son of the former L.A. Laker of the same name, is a freshman guard for Wofford.

  • Tough Luck: In three out of the last four seasons, Wofford has lost its leading scorer to a season-ending injury. Last year, Eric Marshall was injured at Clemson.

  • Pack Connection: Former NC State coach Les Robinson is a mentor to Wofford's AD, Richard Johnson. Johnson played for Robinson at The Citadel and coached at Wofford before going on to become AD.

  • Did You Know? Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is a Wofford alum.

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