Tip-Off: 2:30 p.m.
Radio: Airtime begins @ 2:00 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network
NC State Information
NC State Projected Starting Line-up
G Javier Gonzalez
G Courtney Fells
F Gavin Grant
F Tracy Smith
C J.J. Hickson
Miami Projected Starting Line-up
G Jack McClinton
G James Dews
G Lance Hurdle
F Dwayne Collins
C Anthony King
Players to Watch
J.J. Hickson -- NC State needs a big game from Hickson to break its eight-game losing streak. He'll be facing a tough frontcourt, but the Pack's leading scorer and rebounder needs to produce.
Jack McClinton -- A first-team All-ACC selection, McClinton is the league's top shooter, as he leads the conference in free throw shooting and 3-pointers made, scoring 17.3 points per game. When he gets it going, no one can stop him, as he is deadly a shooter as there is in the nation.
NC State Game Notes
A STATE WIN
Would snap an 8-game losing streak and move the Wolfpack into Friday's ACC quarterfinals against Virginia Tech—a team it beat 73-63 in Raleigh during the regular season on Feb. 5th. The Pack would beat Miami for the fourth time in the last five games of the series and advance to the ACC quarterfinals for the second straight year. The victory would assure the Pack of at least a .500 overall season record and would keep hopes alive for an ACC championship and a possible trip to the post-season. State would improve to 16-15, while Miami would drop to 21-10.
A STATE LOSS
Would end the season for the Wolfpack with 9-straight losses, it's longest losing streak since 1992. State would drop to 15-16 and suffer its first losing season since the 2000-01campaign when the Pack finished 13-16. State would lose in the first-round of the ACC Tournament for the second time in the last 3 years. Miami would improve to 22-9 overall and advance to face Virginia Tech in the ACC quarterfinals on Friday.
Trevor Ferguson has played sparingly this season, but lately he has been one of the Pack's most consistent scorers. The redshirt sophomore came off the bench to lead State in scoring in back-to-back games against Virginia and FSU. He recorded a career high 17 points against Florida State on Feb. 27. In his last 4 games, Ferguson has averaged 10.8 points (43) while shooting 10-of-16 from the three point arc.
With Trevor Ferguson and Tracy Smith leading the way, the Wolfpack's bench outscored Florida State's reserves 36-2 on Feb. 27. In the last 5 games, the Pack's bench has averaged 27.8 points (139).
During its 8-game losing streak, State's defense has allowed an average of 79.5 points a game (636). Opponents are shooting .471 from the field (233-473) and .460 from the 3-point arc (57-124) during that stretch.
THE MAGIC NUMBER IS...
State is 3-1 against ACC opponents when holding them to 70 points or less, but only 1-11 when yielding 71 points or more.
A TALE OF TURNOVERS
In the last 6 games, opponents have outscored the Pack 122-42 in points off turnovers. State is 3-2 in ACC games when recording as many or fewer turnovers than its opponents. The Pack is 1-10 when losing the turnover battle in conference play.
SECOND HALF ISSUES
During its 8-game losing streak, State has allowed opponents an average of 39.6 second-half points (317) as well as .506 shooting from the field (114-225) and .460 from 3-point range (29-63) in the final 20-minutes.
Gavin Grant is State's top scorer in ACC games (13.4) and he has made some big shots. Three times this season, Grant's heroics in the final seconds have won games for the Pack. His steal and layup with 2.1 seconds left in overtime gave State a 79-77 victory over Miami on Jan 19. Grant's free throws against Villanova and Davidson were also game-winners. At Duke on Jan. 31, the senior forward scored a career-high 26 points.
A FINE LINE
The Pack's four ACC wins have been decided by an average of only 4.3 points.
ALL-ACC ROOKIE CANDIDATE
J.J. Hickson leads all ACC freshmen in rebounding (8.4) and double-doubles (9) while running a close second to Wake Forest's James Johnson in scoring (14.4). The Marietta, Georgia, native leads the conference in field goal percentage (.592) and is one of the league's top rebounders. Hickson was chosen as the ACC Rookie of the Week for the third time on Jan. 28th after he averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds in games against Georgia Tech and FSU. Hickson leads the Pack in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots (46). However, he has struggled recently. In the last 4 games, he has averaged 8.8 points (35) and 5.5 rebounds (22).
J.J. Hickson set an ACC single game freshman record with 23 rebounds in a loss to Clemson on Feb 16. If he continues to rebound at his current pace (8.3) he will break the NC State single season freshman record for rebounding average set by Kenny Carr in 1975 (8.2).
Despite J.J. Hickson's rebounding numbers, the Pack has outrebounded only 5-of-16 ACC opponents. In the last 8 games, State has been outscored 102-82 on second chance points.
State is shooting an impressive .397 from 3-point range in conference games. Even during the 8-game losing streak, State's 3-point shooting has been solid (.382). State has made 57-of-149 from the bonusphere during that span.
State is getting to the foul line an average of nearly 20 times a game against ACC opponents and is shooting .726.
AT THE POINT
Freshman Javier Gonzalez and sophomore transfer Marques Johnson were pushed into service following a season-ending knee injury to starting point guard Farnold Degand on December 23rd. The progress has been slow, but Gonzalez is stepping up. Against Duke on Mar. 1, Gonzalez scored a career high 18 points and committed only one turnover in 32 minutes. He dished out a career high 9 assists vs. North Carolina on Feb. 20. In his last 14 games, Gonzalez has averaged 6.4 points (89), 2.2 rebounds (31), 3.4 assist (48) and 2.1 turnovers (30). He leads the Wolfpack in steals (30).
State is 2-6 against foes ranked in the nation's top-25. The Pack has faced more ranked opponents than any ACC team and is the only league team to face Duke and UNC twice.
Courtney Fells scored in double-figures in 12-of-16 ACC games this season and is the team's No.3 scorer in league games (12.5) while shooting .500 from the field and .452 from the 3-point arc. His clutch 3-pointer with 18-seconds to play in overtime was huge in State's win over Miami on Jan.19.
State has won 3 ACC games this season after enjoying a halftime lead (Miami, FSU and Virginia Tech). However, the Pack lost to Maryland and twice to Duke after holding a lead at the half. Against Wake Forest on Feb. 3, State trailed by 7 points at the break, but rallied to win.
Miami Game Notes
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
The Hurricanes enter the 2008 ACC Tournament seeded a program- high fifth and will face 12th-seeded NC State in Thursday's first round. The winner of the Miami/NC State game advances to the quarterfinals to face fourth-seeded Virginia Tech on Friday.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
Just one year ago, the Hurricanes were the tournament's 12thseeded team — and the media predicted the same outcome for 2007-08 in the preseason poll. However, Miami head coach Frank Haith believed otherwise, and often opined throughout the season: "I like this team and I won't waiver off these comments, I think this team has a chance to be in the upper half of this league."
A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Jack McClinton made history as he became the first Hurricane named to the All-ACC First Team. An All-ACC Third Team pick in his first season competing for the Hurricanes in 2006-07, the junior guard earned first-team honors this season after leading the league in three-point field goal percentage (.442), three-point field goals per game (3.00) and free throw percentage (.900), while ranking fifth in scoring with 17.4 points per game — including an 18.8 point average in ACC games. He is the only All-ACC First Team selection to also earn All-ACC Academic Team recognition this season.
THE FINAL STRETCH
The Hurricanes have won six of their last eight games entering the ACC Tournament. Bouncing back from a disappointing 2- 6 start in ACC play, the Hurricanes went 6-2 over the second half of the ACC season, reaching a program-record eight ACC wins with the victory over Boston College.
With a 21-9 record and an 8-8 mark in ACC play, the Hurricanes are battling for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Since 1985 when the tournament field expanded to 64 teams, no team has won 20 games and finished at least .500 in ACC play and not earned an invitation to the big dance.
TALK ABOUT A TURNAROUND
With a 10 game swing from last season, Frank Haith's Hurricanes have put together one of the largest turnarounds in NCAA Divison I basketball this season. After an injury-plagued squad struggled to a 12-20 record in 2006-07, this edition of the Hurricanes are 21-9 and finished the regular season in fifth place in the ACC with program-best 8-8 mark. This from a team that was picked 12th in the ACC in preseason media poll.
BATTLING THE BEST
The 21-9 Miami squad enters the ACC Tournament ranked 28th in the latest Collegiate Basketball News RPI with the nation's 32nd toughest schedule, while playing in the nation's top-ranked conference.
The Hurricanes have gone 3-3 versus top-50 ranked teams in the RPI and 9-7 versus top-100 ranked teams in the RPI, with wins over Duke (4), Clemson (22) Mississippi State (37), VCU (53), Virginia Tech (57), Maryland (70), Georgia Tech (73) and Providence (98).
Of the 16 total ACC games Miami has already played, six of those opponents were ranked among the ACC's topthree teams entering the game.
HE SHOOTS... AND HE SCORES
With 21 points at Florida State on Saturday, Jack McClinton became just the 28th Hurricane to score 1,000 career points. He is just the fourth to do it in his first two seasons — and the first to accomplish that feat since Don Curnutt in 1969. McClinton has scored in double figures 25 times this season — including 10 games of 20-or-more points and two games of 30-plus points.
The Hurricanes have four North Carolina natives in their program, including head coach Frank Haith who spent much of his youth in the area, as well as his college years at Elon. Fifth-year senior Anthony King and freshman Julian Gamble are Durham natives that graduated from Southern Durham High School, while junior Jimmy Graham grew up in Goldsboro and graduated from Charis Prep.
NC State and Miami contributed to this report.