Notebook: Pack Seeks First ACC Win

NC State (10-6, 0-3) hits the road looking for its first ACC win as the Wolfpack faces Wake Forest (9-6, 1-2).

  • NC State has lost 14 of the last 16 games played at Wake Forest.
  • Brandon Costner leads all ACC rookies in both scoring and rebounding.v Costner set a new NC State freshman record with 19 rebounds against UNCW - the highest tally in the ACC this season.
  • Engin Atsür set a new career high with 10 assists in his first game back after missing nine with an injury. He reinjured his leg on Sunday and his status against Wake Forest could be doubtful.
  • 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.

    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 220 times over 97 years, and NC State leads the overall series 126-94.

    The Pack holds an 87-54 advantage of games played in Raleigh, and also holds a 13-8 edge when the two teams have faced off on a neutral court. Wake Forest has emerged victorious 32 times in the 58 games played in Winston-Salem (32-26).

    The two teams played three times last year - twice in the regular season and in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

    The Wolfpack won in Raleigh on Jan. 21, battling back from 13 down to take a 92-82 win. NC State lost to the Deacons twice in five days at the end of the season - losing 76-63 at Wake on March 4 and then losing in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament on March 10, 82-71. NC State has lost 14 or the last 16 contests played on the Deacons' home court, winning only in 1997 and 2004.

    In the last nine games between NC State and Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons have outrebounded the Wolfpack by an average of 36.4 to 27.8.

    Last Saturday's game with Boston College marked the first of 15 straight regular season games that the Wolfpack will play against ACC competition. NC State opened conference play earlier than it had in 40 years this season, travelling to Virginia on Dec. 3, then played eight straight non-conference games before the matchup with Boston College.

    It took an overtime period to do it, but the Wolfpack garnered its 100th win in the RBC Center against UNC Greensboro on January 2. This season marks NC State's eighth in the facility and the squad has won 77% of it's games there (100-30). The Wolfpack has won a whopping 90% (65-7) of its non-conference games played in the RBC Center.

    NC State is one of only two Atlantic Coast Conference schools that currently has three players ranked in the top-15 in the league scoring stats. Sophomore Ben McCauley currently ranks seventh with 16.8 ppg, redshirt freshman Brandon Costner is ninth at 16.6 and junior Gavin Grant is 15th with a 15.6 ppg average. The Wolfpack has two players ranked in the top 10 in the league in the individual rebounding stats - Costner (4th, 7.8) and McCauley (10th, 6.9).

    Three of the five 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 16.8 ppg - an increase of 14.7 points per contest. Brandon Costner is tied for second with a 13.8 ppg increase (granted, Costner played in just five games last season), while Courtney Fells is fifth with a 9.1 ppg jump.

    First, the good news: NC State plays just two road games in the month of January. Beginning with the Jan. 2 win over UNC-Greensboro in the RBC Center, the Wolfpack is playing 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 travels to Wake Forest on Saturday 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, as well as 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.

    After missing nine complete games with a hamstring injury, senior point guard Engin Atsür was back on Jan. 6 versus Boston College. And not only did he just return, but he started his 96th career game, played 31 minutes and set a new career high. Atsür did not score against the Eagles (he took just four shots), but he did dish out 10 assists - a new career best and a mark that ties as the best for a Wolfpack player this season and ties as the third-best mark in the ACC. Atsür picked up where he left off in terms of taking care of the basketball.

    Despite the long layoff, he turned the ball over just once - pushing his season assist-to-turnover ratio to 3.9 (31 assists to just eight TOs).

    Unfortunately, Atsür's return was short-lived. The day after the Boston College game, he reinjured the leg in practice and missed Tuesday's contest versus Clemson. Atsür's status is listed as day-to-day at this point.

    Redshirt freshman Brandon Costner has wasted little time in letting Wolfpack fans see what they missed last year when he was forced to sit out with an injury. After playing in just five games as a true freshman, Costner has come back to score double figures in all sixteen games this season - a streak which is currently tied for third in the ACC. He is the only Wolfpack player to accomplish that feat this season.

    In a league loaded with talented freshmen, Costner leads them all in scoring (16.6) and rebounding (7.8). He has posted four double doubles this season, the third-highest tally in the league. Costner etched his name into the Wolfpack single-game record books on Saturday, December 30 - posting his third career double-double ... BEFORE HALFTIME!!!

    He 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.

    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 Wake Forest game shooting .500 from the field, the third-best mark in the ACC.

    Four players are currently shooting over 50% from the field. NC State has shot 50% or better from the line as a team in eight of its 16 games.

  • Pack Pride Top Stories