Gameday: NC State vs. Wake Forest

NC State (15-14, 4-11) returns to the hardwood today against Wake Forest (16-12, 6-9). Tip-off is set for 12:00 and the game will be televised on Raycom.

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tip-Off: 12:00 p.m.

Television: Raycom

Radio: Airtime begins @ 11:30 a.m. on the Wolfpack Radio Network

NC State Information


    Wake Forest Information


    NC State Projected Starting Line-up
    G Javy Gonzalez
    G Courtney Fells
    F Gavin Grant
    F Ben McCauley
    C J.J. Hickson

    Wake Forest Projected Starting Line-up
    G Ish Smith
    G Jeff Teague
    F L.D. Williams
    C Chaz McFarland
    F James Johnson

    Players to Watch
    NC State
    J.J. Hickson --
    Hickson's numbers have dipped recently. He needs to have a big game against McFarland and the Deacs.

    Wake Forest
    Ish Smith --
    To defeat Wake Forest, NC State has to keep the ultra-quick Smith out of the paint.

    NC State Game Notes

    NC State Travels to Wake Forest
    NC State concludes regular season play with a trip to Wake Forest this Saturday at 12:00 p.m. The Wolfpack has won eight of the last 12 games against Wake, including two of the last four played in Winston-Salem. NC State head coach Sidney Lowe is a perfect 3-0 against the Demon Deacons.

    The Series Versus Wake Forest
    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 226 times over 97 years, and NC State leads the overall series 130-96.

    The Pack holds an 91-53 advantage of games played in Raleigh, and also holds a 14-8 edge when the two teams have faced off on a neutral court. Wake Forest has emerged victorious 35 times in the 60 games played in Winston-Salem (35-25).

    The Pack has won three straight over Wake after NC State's 67-65 win in Raleigh back in January. The two teams played twice last year, with NC State sweeping the season series. Sidney Lowe notched his first career ACC win at Wake, then beat the Demon Deacons on Senior Day in Raleigh. NC State has won eight of the last 12 games against Wake, including two of the last four in Winston-Salem.

    Earlier This Season Versus Wake Forest
    Ben McCauley dunked in a missed three-pointer as time expired, lifting NC State to a 67-65 win over Wake Forest. With the score tied 65-65, NC State called a timeout with 5.2 seconds left. Gavin Grant took the inbounds and fired a three, the ball bounced straight up, and McCauley husseled down and slammed it home for the win. After trailing at the half 31-24, NC State used a zone defense and forced Wake to miss eight of their last 10 shots in the last 3:30 of the game. Grant led the Pack with 17 points, while J.J. Hickson recorded his fourth straight double, scoring 10 points and pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds.

    Last Time Out For NC State
    NC State led by as many as 13 points in the second half, but could not hold off No. 7 Duke, as the Pack fell 87-86 for its seventh straight loss at the RBC Center last Saturday. After a lay-up put NC state up 83-76 with 3:24 left, the Pack would not score another bucket and went just 3-of-6 from the free throw line. Duke meanwhile made back-to-back three-pointers in a 30 second span, and hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch. Javier Gonzlaez scored a career-best 18 points, while Ben McCauley came off the bench and scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Pack.

    The Road Has Been Unkind
    NC State has not had much success on the road this season, going 2-8 thus far. The Pack has faced four ranked teams on the road as well, and is 1-6 on the road in ACC affairs this year.

    NC State is giving up an average of 79.4 points on the road including allowing opponents to shoot 48.6 percent, compared to just 64.6 points in games played at home where opponents have shot 39.6 percent.

    The Pack is 3-0 playing neutral site games this season, winning the Old Spice Classic over Thansgiving weekend.

    The Changing Lineup
    NC State has had seven different starting lineups this season, the newest was debut last time out for the Pack.

    Courtney Fells and Gavin Grant have each started all 29 games this season, while freshman J.J. Hickson has started the last 22 games at center. At the point, freshman Javier Gonzalez returned to the starting lineup, and has started the last eight games, and fellow freshman Tracy Smith notched his first start of the season against Duke.

    That Duke game marked the first time NC State had three freshmen in the starting lineup since February 3, 2002.

    Second Half Woes
    During the Pack's current seven-game losing streak, the Pack has struggled on the defensive side of the ball in the second half. NC State has given up an average of 43.4 points in the second 20 minutes in those six loses, with the teams shooting 52.6 percent (100-190) from the field, and 45.0 percent (27-60) from three-point range.

    Maryland scored 53 points on 20-of-27 shooting, Boston College scored 41 points hitting 13-of-23 shots, and Clemson hit 51.6 percent (16-31) of its shots enroute to 37 points. North Carolina shot 59.4 percent and scored 50 points, Virginia shot only 39.3 percent but scored 40 points, Florida State shot 50.0 percent (12-24) and posted 40 second-half points, and last time out, Duke hit just 42.3 percent (11-26) of its shots but used 43 points in its second-half comeback.

    Leading the Rookies
    NC State's J.J. Hickson is making a strong case for ACC Rookie of the Year.

    Hickson currently leads all ACC freshmen in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and in blocked shots (1.59 bkpg). Overall in the conference, Hickson is second in rebounding and fifth in blocked shots.

    After leading all rookies in scoring for the entire season, Hickson now ranks second scoring 14.6 per game, and is 13th overall in the conference.

    Hickson is trying to become only the eighth freshman in ACC history to lead his team in both scoring and rebounding in his freshman season. Hickson leads the entire conference and in field goal percentage, connecting on 59.1 percent (150-254) of his shots thus far, with the next closest player in the ACC at just 55.2 percent. He has nine double-doubles on the season, including five in ACC play, both second-best in the conference overall and tops among first-year players.

    He is the only freshmen with two games of at least 30 points, as he scored 31 in his college debut against William & Mary then had 33 against Western Carolina.

    Those two scoring outputs are the second and third-best scoring games for a Pack freshman in school history.

    Hickson has reached double figures in scoring 23 of the 29 games this season, and has led NC State in rebounding in 18 games. Hickson has been named the ACC Rookie of the Week three times this season, and was named the No. 9 freshman nationally by in early January. Against Clemson, Hickson set a new conference mark. He pulled down a career- best 23 rebounds, a new ACC record for rebounds in a single game by a freshman.

    The 23 rebounds in one game also ties as the 14th-best performance in the NC State record books, and the most for a Pack player in a game since 1974.

    Ferguson Seeing Increased Action
    Sophomore Trevor Ferguson has providing a spark off of the bench for the Pack over recent games. He has set new career-highs in almost every category over the last three outings, playing as the back-up shooting guard. Over his last three games, Ferguson has averaged 12.3 points and has hit 8-of-12 three-pointers. Against Florida State, Ferguson played 21 minutes scoring 17 points.

    He hit a career-best four three-pointers, all five of his free throws, and also set a new high with four rebounds. It marked the first time in his career he has led the Pack in scoring in a game.

    Last time out against Duke, he played a season-high 22 minutes and scored nine points. At Virginia, he hit 3-of-5 three-pointers scoring in double figures for the first time this season at Virginia.

    Smith Cracks Starting Lineup
    Freshman forward Tracy Smith made his first start of the season last weekend against Duke. Smith responded with a career-high 14 points, including hitting all six free throws, in 22 minutes of action.

    Smith has notched double figures in two straight games now, as he scored 11 second half points against Florida State.

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