Tip-Off: 3:30 p.m.
Radio: Airtime begins @ 3:00 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network
NC State Information
NC State Projected Starting Line-up
G- 04 Courtney Fells
G- 11 Gavin Grant
G- 14 Engin Atsur
F- 33 Brandon Costner
F- 34 Ben McCauley
Maryland Projected Starting Line-up
G- D.J. Strawberry
G- Greivis Vasquez
G- Mike Jones
F- Ekene Ibekwe
F- James Gist
Players to Watch
Engin Atsur -- For NC State to have a chance, Atsur must contain the Maryland freshman point guards.
Greivis Vasquez- Vasquez has been on a tear lately, as he is making a run at the ACC Rookie of the Year Award.
NC State Game Notes (Gary Hahn/GoPack.com)
Would be the second straight for the Wolfpack and would snap a 6-game Maryland winning streak. State would finish the regular season at 16-13 overall and 6-10 in the ACC and would assure itself of at least 10th place in the final ACC standings. The Wolfpack would record a split in its regular season series with Maryland after losing in Raleigh 85-70 on February 14. The Pack would earn its fourth win in the last five games of the series and third in-a-row at the Comcast Center. State's road record would improve to 3-7 overall and 3-5 in ACC road games. Maryland would drop to 23-8 overall and 9-7 in the ACC. The Terps would lose for only the third time at home this season (16-3). Both teams head to Tampa, FL for the ACC Tournament, March 8-11.
Would be the Wolfpack's third in the last four games. State would finish the regular season 15-14 overall and 5-11 in the ACC and secure no worse than an eleventh-place finish in the final ACC standings. Maryland wins its seventh game in-a-row to end the regular season at 24-7 overall, 10-6 in the league and secures no worse than a fifth-place ACC finish. The Terps sweep the regular season series with the Wolfpack for the first time since 2003 and break a two game losing streak to the Wolfpack at the Comcast Center. State drops to 2-8 overall in road games this season (2-6 ACC). Maryland wins for the 17th time this season at home against only 2 losses. Both teams head to Tampa, FL for the ACC Tournament, March 8-11.
SHOOTING EYE RETURNS
State shot 51 percent in its win on Wednesday night over Wake Forest that snapped a two game losing streak. The improved marksmanship was very important because it broke a streak of three straight sub-par halves. State has shot only .406 from the field (26-64) and committed 31 turnovers while being outrebounded 57-29 in a stretch that included the second half at UNC on February 21 and a loss at Florida State three days later. The Wolfpack's defense also took a dip during that period, surrendering 120 points in the three halves as well as 50 percent shooting from the field (45-90) and 45 percent from the 3-point arc (13-29).
Center, Ben McCauley bounced back from his two worst performances of the season with a big game against Wake Forest on Wednesday. The sophomore had 17 points, 7 rebounds 2 assists and blocked 2 shots in 25 minutes. In his two previous games, McCauley managed only 5 points and 2-of-7 shooting from the field. However, there is no doubt that McCauley is one of the most improved players in the ACC. Last season, he averaged 5.5 minutes in 13 ACC games. This season, McCauley is among the league leaders in field goal percentage (.595) while averaging 15.1 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. He's also No.2 on the Wolfpack team in total assists (93). In his last 9 games, McCauley is shooting .629 (51-of-81) from the field. He has recorded 3 double-doubles.
THE CLOCK WON'T STOP
Four NC State starters rank among the ACC leaders in minutes played. Gavin Grant has played every minute of six games this season. Ben McCauley and Brandon Costner have gone the distance in three games each with Courtney Fells never coming out in two games.
HITTING THE BULLS EYE
When the Wolfpack shoots well it usually wins. In its five ACC victories, State is shooting a collective .584 from the field (143-245) and an equally impressive .435 from 3-point range (37-85). Overall the Pack is shooting .491 from the field and has shot 50 percent or better 13 times this season. State shot 66.7 percent in its win over Virginia Tech on Feb. 18—its best shooting performance in an ACC game since 1982.
STOP ‘EM AND YOU WIN
In State's upset of No. 25 Virginia Tech on Feb. 18., the Pack held the Hokies to a season-low 56 points and 38.5 percent second-half shooting. The same formula worked earlier this season in back-to-back wins over No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 3 UNC. In those two games, the Pack surrendered an average of 69 points, .418 shooting from the field and .280 from 3-point range. Following that pair of wins, the Pack dropped three straight games and the common factor was a LACK of defense. In the three losses, opponents averaged 79.6 points (239) and nearly 50 percent shooting (.86-173) from the field, including 46 percent from the 3-point range (17-37).
GIVE ME SOME WINDEX
In State's three biggest wins this season—two over Virginia Tech and an upset of UNC—the Pack held a 101-75 rebounding advantage. The Pack has tied or outrebounded its opponents 12 times and has a 9-3 record. When State has lost the battle of the boards, the Pack is 6-10.
Engin Atsur has made a big difference in the Wolfpack since his return from a hamstring injury. State is 9-7 this season with Atsur in the lineup and no doubt that record would be even more impressive if the Pack's only point guard had not suffered an injury in November. What kind of difference has the native of Turkey made? He scored a game-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field and added 7 assists in the Wolfpack's upset of No. 25 Virginia Tech Feb. 18. In the upset of No. 3 North Carolina on Feb. 3, Atsur recorded his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes. The likable senior continues to recover from a serious hamstring injury that forced him to miss 12 games this season. In his last 5 games, Atsur has averaged 13.2 points (66) and 3.6 assists (18) while shooting 22-of-48 from the field (.458).
THE LINE HAS BEEN KIND
The Wolfpack is shooting .737 from the foul line in ACC games (202-274). Overall, State's free throw percentage is .721.
Junior Gavin Grant was forced into a difficult spot when Engin Atsur was injured. The slashing shooting guard was forced to play the point and it was a tough transition, especially against higher-level competition. With Atsur back, Grant has benefited. In the last 9 games, Grant is shooting .511 from the field (45-of-88). The junior is the team's No.2 scorer in ACC games (15.3) and has shot .503 against league opponents (81-161).
State no longer relies as much on three-point shooting as in past seasons, but that does not mean the Wolfpack can't shoot 3-pointers. In its last 13 games, State is shooting .394 from 3-point range (90-228). Under Sidney Lowe, the Pack is an inside-out team. Only 33 percent of State's shots come from the arc compared to 46 percent last season.
COULD HE BE ACC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?
Redshirt freshman Brandon Costner is the ACC's top freshman scorer and rebounder. That's quite an improvement from last season which was cut short by injury after playing in only five games. The former Parade and McDonalds High School All-American leads the Pack in scoring (16.2), rebounding (7.6) and 3-point field goals (49). Costner recorded his 7th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds against No.25 Virginia Tech on Feb. 18. He averages 34 minutes a game and has started every game except the Senior Night win over Wake Forest.
Courtney Fells is the best athlete on the Wolfpack team and he has contributed in several ways this season. The sophomore not only leads the team in steals (33) and blocked shots (28), but he's been an occasional defensive stopper. In two games against Virginia Tech's Zabian Dowdell, Fells held the ACC's best one-on-one player to a combined 25 points. He also played solid defense in the Pack's win over North Carolina on Feb 3rd while scoring a career-high 21 points. Offensively, in his last 12 games, Fells is shooting .477 from the field (53-111).
WHERE HAS THIS GUY BEEN?
Until Wednesday night's win over Wake Forest, Justin Clark, has played very little in 4 games this season and had no points. But on Senior Night, the senior from Charlotte made the most of his opportunity. Not only did he start the game, he played 22 minutes and finished with 6 points, 4 assists and a steal. Clark was voted the Rex Hospital Player of the Game by the Wolfpack Sports Network.
Maryland Game Notes (Gary Hahn/GoPack.com)
Gary Williams will tell you it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish. The Maryland coach ought to know because no team in the ACC is finishing better than his Terps. Wednesday night in Durham, Maryland won its sixth straight game 85-77 over Duke to record a regular season sweep of the Blue Devils.
Maryland lost five of its first eight ACC games and was looking for a leader. Senior D. J. Strawberry is now that man. He had a pair of baskets during a decisive second-half run and finished with 17 points. But, Strawberry wasn't the only difference-maker. Mike Jones led the Maryland scoring parade with 25 points while Ekene Ibekwe added 17. Freshman point guard, Greivis Vasquez flirted with a triple-double recording 13 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds as the Terps firmed up what appeared to be a very shaky NCAA Tournament resume only a few weeks ago.
Maryland led by 12 points midway through the second half, but Duke made a run to tie the game before the Terps took control in the final five minutes. With the score tied at 64, Vasquez sank a difficult layup over 6-foot-10 Josh McRoberts to put the Terrapins ahead for good with 5:11 left.
After Duke's DeMarcus Nelson was whistled for an offensive foul, Strawberry went to work. He sank a 3-point shot from the left wing and then followed with a layup over McRoberts with 3:50 to play for a 71-64 lead. While Strawberry was heating up, Duke went cold.
After a jumper from Greg Paulus cut the deficit to 71-66, the Blue Devils didn't record another basket until Paulus' layup made it 79-70 with 49.7 seconds left. In addition, Paulus and Gerald Henderson each missed the front end of 1-and-1s during that stretch. Paulus led Duke with 20 points. McRoberts was held to 10 points and made only 5-of-13 shots from the field. The Terrapins shot 52 percent for the game, including 7-13 from the 3-point arc and blocked eight shots while committing just 13 turnovers. Duke (22-8, 8-7) managed only 41 percent shooting and was outscored 12-11 in second-chance points despite a 17-11 edge on the offensive glass.
The Terps have not lost since February 6 to Virginia and they have been very impressive on defense. Maryland has collectively held its last 6 opponents to 69 points (415) and .419 shooting from the field (156-372). Several players have stepped up, too.
Leading the way is Strawberry. In the last 6 games, he has averaged 17.3 points (106) while shooting .592 from the field (45-76). The reigning ACC player of the week, Strawberry averaged 18.5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in wins last week over Florida State and North Carolina. Against the Tar Heels, Strawberry was brilliant with 27 points and 4 assists.
Two freshmen alternating at point guard have also responded. Eric Hayes has averaged 4.8 assists (29) and only 2.0 turnovers (12) in the last 6 games while Vasquez has averaged 13.2 points (79), 7.5 assists (45) and 3.3 turnovers (20)during that span. Hayes does not shoot often, but he's is very accurate from 3-point range. Vasquez is more aggressive, but leads the team in turnovers.
Inside, James Gist has been very consistent. The veteran forward is averaging nearly 13 points (78) and 7 rebounds (42) while shooting nearly 60 percent during the Terps three week run of success.
Inconsistent shooting, poor rebounding and turnovers plagued Maryland in January, but the Terps have improved greatly in those areas. During their 6-game winning streak, they are shooting 50 percent from the field (185-368). They've held their own on the boards while averaging only 13 tunovers (78) during that stretch. Maryland was averaging nearly 17 turnovers a game prior to its win over NC State on February 14.
The Terrapins 3-point shooting has also taken a turn for the better. In the last 6 games, Maryland is hitting nearly 44 percent of its three-point shots (29-66). That's much better than its 37 percent season average in ACC games. Mike Jones (.431) leads the Maryland in 3-point makes (69) and attempts (160) while Strawberry, Hayes and Vasquez can also damage opponents from long range.
Inside, Maryland's front line is athletic and skilled. Ibekwe, who leads the ACC in blocked shots, is a more polished player offensively while Gist can drive and must be respected as an outside threat as evidenced by his 9-of-20 shooting from 3-point range. Will Bowers and Bambale Osby are capable back-ups.
While rebounding has sometimes been a challenge, the Terps offensive rebounding has been more consistent. Maryland gets back about 40 percent of its missed shots. Ibekwe and Gist are the team's best offensive rebounders. Strawberry and Vasquez are excellent rebounding guards.
Hitting the offensive glass has also helped the Terps get to the free throw line an average of 23 times in ACC games. They've made 69 percent of their foul shots. Jones (.796), Vasquez (.819) and Hayes (.911) are the teams best free throw shooters.
In ACC games, the Terps lead the conference in blocks and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.310). Only Clemson and Duke have allowed fewer 3-point field goals than Maryland (5.6 per game). Ibekwe is averaging 2.7 blocks a game. Deep and athletic, the Terps will use full court pressure and they force an average of 17 turnovers a game. Maryland can go nine deep off the bench with six of the nine-man rotation averaging at least 24 minutes a game.
State has won three of the last four games in the series with Maryland, but lost to the Terps 85-70 in Raleigh on February 14. The Terrapins shot 63 percent in the second half while holding the Pack to 34 percent shooting from the field in the final 20 minutes. Maryland used eleven players and its bench outscored State's 23-5.
D.J. Strawberry, Ekene Ibekwe
James Gist, Greivis Vasquez
Mike Jones, Eric Hayes