Notebook: State Plays BC in ACC Home Opener

NC State (10-4, 0-1) faces Boston College (9-4, 1-0) in the home opener for the Wolfpack. Gametime is set for 2:00 p.m. tomorrow and will be televised on Raycom.

NOTING THE PACK
  • Brandon Costner leads all ACC rookies in both scoring and rebounding.
  • Costner set a new NC State freshman record with 19 rebounds against UNCW - the highest tally in the ACC this season.
  • Engin Atsür has missed each of the last nine games, the first action he has missed since he became eligible four games into his freshman season - he'd played in 100 straight.
  • Small forward Gavin Grant has running the point in Atsür's absence.
  • Four Wolfpack players - Gavin Grant, Brandon Costner, Ben McCauley and Courtney Fells- rank in the top five in the ACC in minutes played.
  • Five Wolfpack players have played the entire 40 minutes in at least one game.
  • Every Wolfpack starter has posted a career-high in terms of scoring this season.

    PACK JUMPS BACK TO ACC PLAY
    NC State opened conference play earlier than it had in 40 years, then played eight straight non-conference games before Saturday's matchup with Boston College.

    The Wolfpack has faced Boston College just five times in school history, with two of those contests coming last season - Boston College's first in the ACC. The two squads met at the Boston Garden Invitational on Dec. 20, 1967, with BC winning 72-55 at that neutral site. The squads then traded home-and-home games in 2003 and 2004, with the Eagles winning 93-81 in Raleigh (1/16/03), and edging the Pack in overtime, 66-65, in Chestnut Hill (1/20/04).

    On January 10, 2006, NC State followed a loss to North Carolina by heading up to No. 15 Boston College and coming out with a victory. In fact, the Wolfpack's 18 point win (78-60) versus the Eagles marked State's largest margin of victory against a ranked team on the road in over 50 years. The last time an NC State squad had won by a bigger margin on a ranked opponents home court was on Dec. 7, 1954, when the Pack defeated No. 17 Wake Forest in Winston-Salem by 19.

    The rematch in Raleigh on Feb. 25 was an exciting one, with the Eagles winning 74-72 in double overtime.

    PACK POSTS 100th VICTORY IN RBC
    It took an overtime period to do it, but the Wolfpack garnered its 100th win in the RBC Center against UNC Greensboro on Tuesday night.

    This season marks NC State's eighth in the facility and the squad has won 78% of it's games there (100-28). The Wolfpack has won a whopping 90% (65-7) of its non-conference games played in the RBC Center.

    TOP SCORERS PLAY FOR PACK
    NC State is the only Atlantic Coast Conference school that currently has three players ranked in the top-15 in the league scoring stats.

    Sophomore Ben McCauley currently ranks sixth with 17.1 ppg, redshirt freshman Brandon Costner is seventh at 16.7 and junior Gavin Grant is 15th with a 14.6 ppg average.

    INCREASING THE AVERAGES
    Three of the top six largest increases in scoring outputs in the ACC from last year to this year belong to Wolfpack players. Sophomore Ben McCauley boasts the league's largest increase, going from 2.1 ppg to 17.1 ppg - an increase of 15 points per contest. Brandon Costner is third with a 13.9 ppg increase (granted, Costner played in just five games last season), while Courtney Fells is sixth with a 9.9 ppg increase.

    STAYING CLOSE TO HOME
    First, the good news: NC State plays just two road games in the month of January. Beginning with Tuesday's win over UNC-Greensboro in the RBC Center, the Wolfpack will play five of its seven games this month in the friendly confines of it's home arena. Of the two road games, just one will take place outside the state of North Carolina - as the Pack will travel to Wake Forest on January 13 and then to Virginia Tech on January 31.

    The flip side, however, is that the Wolfpack will be racking up the frequent flier miles in February. Four of it's games that month and the only regular season game during March will all be road games, with back-to-back games at Georgia Tech and Miami and then later at North Carolina and Florida State.

    THE COMEBACK PACK
    NC State enters its full-fledged ACC schedule with a 10-4 record. However, in four of those 10 wins, the Wolfpack was trailing at the half and in another, Sidney Lowe's team trailed by as much as a dozen in the first half (Michigan).

    COSTNER SETS RECORD
    Redshirt freshman Brandon Costner etched his name into the Wolfpack record books on Saturday, December 30 - posting his third career double-double ... BEFORE HALFTIME!!!

    Costner went on to finish with career-highs of 27 points and 19 rebounds in the win. Those 19 caroms set an NC State freshman record and was the most for a Wolfpack player regardless of class since Todd Fuller had 21 on Nov. 25, 1995. That was also the highest rebounding total for an ACC player this season.

    Costner's point total tied as the fourth-most ever for a Pack rookie. He has scored in double figures in all 14 games this season - giving him the fourth-longest double-figure scoring streak in the ACC.

    SHOT SELECTION SOLlID
    For the most part this season, the Wolfpack has been prudent in terms of the types of shots the players are taking. NC State heads into the Boston College game shooting .501 from the field, the third-best mark in the ACC. Two players are currently shooting over 60% from the field (Ben McCauley at .616 and Engin Atsür at .628 - even though he has missed the last nine games) and five of the eight players who have made a shot this season are shooting better than 50%.

    GRANT STARTS SLOW, FINISHES WITH A BANG
    Gavin Grant's junior season hasn't gone exactly like he had it scripted. For the past nine games, the forward has been running the point for NC State's team while regular point guard Engin Atsür sits out with an injury. A normally explosive player, Grant has had to pull back on offense and playing the point has certainly limited his ability to crash the boards - normally one of his strong suits.

    Despite the change in position, Grant has done remarkably well at the point - averaging 6.3 assists since moving to the one-spot. However, he was struggling in Tuesday night's contest versus UNC Greensboro.

    Grant had just two points on 1-6 shooting at the half and had just four total points heading into the last four minutes of regulation. He hit a jumper with 51 seconds left and then a huge three with nine seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.

    The Bronx, N.Y., native owned the overtime period, hitting all eight of his free-throw attempts and scoring eight of the Pack's 18 points.

    Grant ended up posting his second double-double of the season (third of his career) while pulling down a career-high 13 rebounds. He played all 45 minutes of the contest.

    MCCAULEY SHOWS GRIT...
    Anyone who has seen sophomore Ben McCauley in action would probably describe him as a tough player. Often outsized down low, McCauley will battle to the bitter end and has become a reliable inside scoring force for the Pack. Over the last five games, he is averaging 22.2 points and 8.6 rebounds, topping the 20-point plateau four times.

    McCauley has also been a warrior on the boards this season. He ranks 11th in rebounding in the ACC with 6.8 a contest.

    Two of his last three games have been double-doubles (20 points and 10 rebounds against ECU on Dec. 28 and 26 points and 10 rebounds against UNCG on Jan. 2).

    McCauley has five 20+ point games this season, tied as the fourth-highest number in the ACC.

    ... AND FINESSE
    In addition to being the Wolfpack's banger down low, Ben McCauley has also been the team's most accomplished ball handler this season. The center ranks second on the team with 51 assists and leads the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (51-26 for a 1.96 mark). In the win over UNCG (when he also tied career scoring and rebounding records), McCauley dished out eight assists and did not have a turnover.

    In the last five games, McCauley has hit 65.7 percent (44-67) of his shots, and has shot under 50 percent in a game only once this season (45.5% at Virginia).

    TURNOVERS FEW, BUT MARGIN BIG
    NC State enters the Boston College game averaging just 14.3 turnovers per game - the fifth-lowest total in the ACC. However, the Wolfpack is forcing the lowest number of turnovers in the ACC as well - with the opposition committing just 13.1 miscues per game. Because of that, NC State ranks last in the league in turnover margin with a -1.14 mark.


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