Notebook: Huge Game for State

NC State (12-5, 1-2) returns to the hardwood tonight against Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-3). Both teams are coming off thrilling conference wins to notch their first ACC victories of the season.

• NC State is a perfect 7-0 all-time against Georgia Tech in the RBC Center, and has not lost a home game to Georgia Tech since 1996.
• Courtney Fells is shooting 46.7 percent (10-21) on three-pointers in ACC play, and ranks 11th in points per game (16.3) in ACC games.
• NC State's 11 made three-pointers against Miami were the most ever under Coach Lowe.
• Three times this season, Gavin Grant's points in the final seconds has won a game for the Pack. A steal and layup with 2.1 seconds left gave NC State the overtime win over No. 21 Miami, and twice this season (Villanova and Davidson) Grant's free throws in the final seconds led NC State to victory.
• Starting point guard Farnold Degand tore his ACL against Cincinnati, and will miss the remainder of the season.
• Neither of the two players seeing time at the point started a college game prior to the Seton Hall contest. Javier Gonzalez started the first five contests since Degand went down, while Marques Johnson has made the start each of the last two games.
• NC State ranks fourth in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (.393), and is 11-0 when outshooting its opponent this year.
• J.J. Hickson leads all ACC freshmen in scoring (15.5 ppg) and is second among rookies in rebounding (7.8 rpg). He is the only freshman in the top-10 in the ACC in both those two categories.
• Hickson also leads the ACC in field goal percentage (.639). The next player is at just 54.5 percent.

After picking up its first ACC win over No. 21 Miami last Saturday, NC State plays its second straight conference tilt at home, hosting Georgia Tech this Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. The Pack is a perfect 7-0 all-time against Georiga Tech in the RBC Center, and has not lost at home to the Yellow Jackets since 1996.

Wednesday's matchup will mark the 82nd meeting between NC State and Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack leads the overall series 48-33. Georgia Tech has won the last two matchups, both in Atlanta, but prior to that current streak the Pack won seven straight dating back to 2003.

NC State holds a 27-8 advantage in the series in games played in Raleigh. The Pack has won the last 10 home games against Georgia Tech, 12 of the last 14. The last time State dropped a home game to GT was on Jan. 24, 1996.

The story in Atlanta is slightly different, as Tech holds a 20-13 advantage there. However, the Pack has won two of the last four games at Alexander Memorial.

Although the Wolfpack has won seven of the last nine games against Georgia Tech, the scores of those games have been relatively close. NC State's largest win in those seven games was a 10-pointer in Atlanta in 2004, and the average margin of victory in those games was six points. Last season, GT came away with a nine point home victory. The Wolfpack won by nine in Raleigh in 2006, then lost by three in Atlanta. In 2005, NC State won by two in Atlanta and by eight at home.

The two teams met once last year, playing in Atlanta on February 6. Down by 11 points with 14:17 left, Georgia Tech went on an 18-0 run and held NC State without a field goal for a span of 11:17 in the second half, as the Yellow Jackets won 74-65. The Pack started the game on a 17-2 run, and shot 58.6 percent (17-29) in the first half to build a 43-35 halftime lead. The second half was a different story, as NC State hit just 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) of its shots, and had 11 turnovers. Brandon Costner and Gavin Grant each had 17 points, while Ben McCauley finished with 16.

A Gavin Grant steal and layup with 2.1 seconds left, gave NC State its first ACC win of the seson, 79-77 over No. 21 Miami in overtime on Saturday.

The Canes were up 76-72 in overtime, when Courtney Fells hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds left. After a Miami free throw made the score 77-75, J.J. Hickson converted an offensive rebound to tie the game with 3.9 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Grant stole the ball and scored the winning basket, the third time he has won a game this season. The Pack finished the game 11-of-18 (61.1%) from three-point range, the most three-pointers made in the Sidney Lowe era.

Grant led the Pack with 22 points, including a 9-for-9 performance from the free throw line. Brandon Costner connected on all four of his three-pointers and scored 16, while Courtney Fells and J.J. Hickson each finished with 14 points.

Senior Gavin Grant is the lone scholarship senior on the Wolfpack this season, and so far Grant has proved to be the clutch senior leader, especially in the final seconds. Three different games this season, it has been Grant scoring in the final seconds that has pushed the Pack to victory. Grant's latest heroics this season came in Saturday's overtime win against No. 21 Miami.

After NC State tied the game with 3.9 seconds left in the OT period, it was Grant who stole the inbounds pass and converted a layup with 2.1 seconds left to give the Pack its first ACC win of the season.

Earilier in the season, against Villanova in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic and versus Davidson on December 21, Grant won both of those games for the Pack at the free throw line in the final seconds.

It was Grant hitting two of three free throws with just 00.4 seconds left that gave NC State the win over Villanova. The scene was repeated against Davidson, as NC State was down one when Grant was fouled with 3.9 seconds left. Grant nailed both of his free throw attempts, and gave the Pack the win once again.

Junior shooting guard Courtney Fells has found his scoring touch, blazing the Pack's offense through the first three games of conference play. Despite playing with a sprained ankle he suffered against North Carolina Central, Fells has scored in double figures in all three conference games, the first time this season he has reached double figures in three consecutive games. He has also led the Pack in scoring in two of the last three contests.

Against No. 1 UNC, Fells led the Pack with 16 points, and followed that effort with a game-high 19 points at No. 24 Clemson, including hitting five-of-eight three pointers.

In the Pack's overtime win against No. 21 Miami, Fells was once again in double figures , scoring 14 points including three three-pointers. In ACC only stats, Fells currently leads NC State and ranks 11th in the ACC in points per game (16.3), and is third in three-point field goal percentage (10-21, .476).

Coming into the Miami contest, the Pack's three-point shooting was last in the ACC. NC State however hit 11-of-18 long range bombs that game, leading the Pack to its first ACC win of the season.

The 11 made three-pointers was the most for a Wolfpack team under Coach Lowe, and the most the Pack has made in a single game in almost two years.

Brandon Costner broke out of a shooting slump and was a perfect 4-of-4, and Courtney Fells hit three. During ACC play, Fells has connected on 10-of-21 (.476 percent) three-point tries. The Pack had its best percentage day behind the arc against Cincinnati, hitting 6-of-9 attempts. On the season, NC State has hit just 32.6 percent (84-258) of its three-point attempts, 12th in the ACC. NC State also is 11th in the conference hitting 4.9 threes a game, and was the last school to reach double figures in made three-pointers in a single game when NC State had 11 against Miami.

Nothing But ACC: The January 12 game at North Carolina marked the first of 16 straight regular season games that the Wolfpack will play against ACC competition.

The Pack concluded its non-conference part of the schedule against North Carolina Central on January 9, with a record of 11-3. The schedule makers did not due the Pack any favors, giving NC State the toughest conference schedule to begin ACC play.

NC State was the only school to have to face three straight ranked teams to open its ACC slate. This season marks the first time since 1997-98 that NC State had three ranked foes open its conference schedule. The Pack finished those first three games 1-2, falling at No. 1 Carolina and at No. 24 Clemson, then picking up an overtime home win against No. 21 Miami.

The Pack was also one of only two ACC teams that had to play their first two conference games on the road (Florida State), marking the first time since 1995-96 NC State opened ACC play with two road games.

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