NC State will return to action this weekend, as the Wolfpack hosts Winston-Salem State on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Reynolds Coliseum. Under Sidney Lowe, the Pack is currently 2-0 playing in games after the annual week off for final exams.
The Pack's margin of victory in those two games has been 20.0 ppg, with an 80-65 win over Savannah State in 2006-07, and a 74-49 win over South Carolina State last season.
The Pack will also be making its second regular season appearance in Reynolds Coliseum this year. NC State is a perfect 3-0 under Lowe in Reynolds. Earlier this year, NC State downed High Point, 69-56.
THE SERIES VERSUS WINSTON-SALEM STATE
This will be the first ever meeting.
FORMER PACK PLAYER ON SIDELINES AT WSSU
Former NC State forward Tim Wells is currently in his second season as an assistant coach at Winston-Salem State. Wells played for the Pack from 1997-00, playing in 97 career games. After averaging a career high 8.2 points a game as a junior, Wells was slowed by injury as a senior and played in only 16 games. The Winston-Salem native was in the same recruiting class as Justin Gainey.
PACK GETS FAMILIAR WITH REYNOLDS COLISEUM
NC State will be playing in the friendly confines of historic Reynolds Coliseum four times this season, two exhibition games and two regular season contests. Reynolds Coliseum served as the home of the Wolfpack for 50 years, prior to NC State moving into the RBC Center for the 1999-2000 season. This season marks the first time NC State has played multiple regular season games in Reynolds since the move to the RBC Center.
NC State won its first Reynolds game over High Point, 69-56, and will next return to the 'Old Barn' this weekend against Winston-Salem State.
The Wolfpack currently holds a perfect record of 7-0 in games played at Reynolds since the RBC doors opened. The Pack played a regular season contest in Reynolds for five straight seasons (2002-06), and also hosted one NIT game in 2007.
The Pack's average margin of victory in those games is 23.7 points.
LAST TIME OUT FOR NC STATE
No. 22 Davidson's Stephen Curry went for 44 points, as the Wildcats handed NC State its first loss of the season, 72-67, last Saturday at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena. With Davidson up one, Curry hit a 30-foot three-pointer with just over one minute left. After a Pack free throw, NC State's Brandon Costner missed a tying three-pointer with eight seconds left, and Curry sealed the game with two more free throws in the final seconds.
Ben McCauley recorded his third straight double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Brandon Costner also had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. NC State was up 41-37 at the half, but shot just 25.9 percent (7-27) in the second half.
KEEP THE BAGS UNPACKED
After opening the season on the road for the first time since 1997, the Wolfpack will not have to leave the state of North Carolina until January. NC State is currently in a stretch of playing 9 of 10 games all at home, with the only road contest before the new year December 6 in Charlotte against Davidson.
RACE TO 1,000
A trio of Wolfpack players have the chance to do what only 40 other NC State basketball players have done before, score 1,000 career points. Seniors Courtney Fells and Ben McCauley and redshirt junior Brandon Costner made up the 2005 recruiting class for NC State, and all three have the chance to reach 1,000 career points during this season.
Costner is currently the closest to that mark as he has 937 career points, followed by McCauley with 842 and Fells with 823. If all three players reach 1,000 points, it will mark only the second time in NC State history that three players from the same recruiting class all accomplished that feat (1980 - Thurl Bailey, Derek Whittenburg and Sidney Lowe). In fact, only nine times have a pair of players in the same recruiting class each scored 1,000 point during their careers, the last were Ilian Evtimov and Julius Hodge from the 2002 class.
PACK GETS IT DONE ON DEFENSE
The NC State defense has helped the Pack to a quick 4-1 start on the season. The Wolfpack currently leads the ACC giving up a mere 57.4 points per game, as only one opponent has scored over 60 points. NC State is also the only team currently holding opponents under 60.0 points a game.
The Wolfpack's defense is holding opponents to just 36.0 percent from the field, second-best in the ACC, and teams have hit just 29.3 percent from three-point range against NC State this season.
In Sidney Lowe's three seasons, the Wolfpack is 6-0 when it holds opponents under 50 points, a perfect 15-0 when teams score under 60 points, and 29-3 when holding teams to under 70 points.
LONG RANGE WOES
Although NC State's field goal percentage this season ranks in the middle of the ACC, its three-point shooting ranks near the bottom. NC State is currently 10th in the conference, hitting 30.2 percent of its long range shots. Only once this season, High Point (45.0 percent), has NC State shot over 30.0 percent, and over the last three games the Pack has hit just 25.4 percent (15-59) of its three-pointers.
On the other end of the court, NC State has improved in its three-point field goal percentage defense since the first two games of the season. In those opening two contests, the Pack allowed New Orleans and High Point to shoot a combined 43.2 percent (16-37) from long range. But over the last three games, teams have combined to shoot just 20.0 percent (11-55), with Davidson having the top game at just 25.0 percent (6-24).
INJURIES STARTING TO TAKE A TOLL
A pair of injuries could affect the Wolfpack's rotation for the Winston-Salem State game. Starters Farnold Degand and Courtney Fells were both slowed by injuries in the Pack's game at Davidson last week.
After missing most of last season with a torn ACL, Degand has once again been limited this season due to a knee injury. Degand has played just a combined 17 minutes in the first five games. He started and played 13 minutes at New Orleans in the season opener, but missed the second half and the next three contests. He was a first half sub last time out at Davidson, but only saw four first-half minutes.
Fells was also limited at Davidson. In the first half, Fells was going for a loose ball and injured his shoulder. After receiving some treatment Fells returned only to suffer an ankle injury in the second half. The leading scoring entering that game, Fells hit only two shots and scored four points, and was also missed on defense.
MAKE HIS A DOUBLE
Senior Ben McCauley has been on a hot streak this season, leading the Pack in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (9.4) heading into this weekend. McCauley ranks third in the ACC in rebounding, and his scoring increase of 9.3 from last season is second.
McCauley has also posted a double-double in each of the past three games. He recorded 15 points and pulled down 11 boards in the win over Winthrop, and then followed that up with 17 points and 15 rebounds against UNC Greensboro.
The 15 rebounds also marked a new career- best for McCauley. Last time out at Davidson, McCauley pitched in with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Those double-doubles were the first for McCauley since the 2007 NIT, and he now has nine for his career. The three double-doubles are second-best in the ACC this season.
REBOUNDS ON THE REBOUND
A season after finishing last in the ACC in rebound margin (-1.0), the Pack has changed things around early this season. NC State is currently sixth in the ACC, out-rebounding its opponents and average of 6.6 boards a games.
The Pack won the rebound battle in the first four games of the season, but were outrebounded at Davidson 45-39. Before that Davidson game, the Wolfpack had increased its rebound totals in each of the first four games of the season, including a season-high of 49 against UNC Greensboro. That marked the most rebounds in a game for NC State in 224 games, dating back to 2001-02.
GONZALEZ STRONG AT START
With point guard Farnold Degand having been sidelined with a knee injury, sophomore Javier Gonzalez fills a role he is quite familiar with once again. After Degand went down 10 games into last season, it was Gonzalez as a freshman that served as the Pack's starting point guard for much of the remainder of the season.
Gonzalez started the final 10 games of last season and 15 games overall during his rookie campaign filling the void left by Degand. He was once again in the starting lineup against High Point on November 22, and has started the last four games overall.
Gonzalez currently ranks eighth in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio. He has dished out 20 assists to 11 turnovers this season (1.8).
Against UNCG, he finished with seven assists to no turnovers. That's the second- most assists in a game for him, and the most without a turnover as well. With Gonzalez at the helm of the offense, NC State as a team ranks second in the ACC in assist/turnover ratio (1.3).
FELLS SWITCHES UP
Senior Courtney Fells has switched positions this season. After playing his first three years at mostly shooting guard with 66 career starts, Fells has moved to the wing and plays more of a small forward this season. The move appears to be paying off, as Fells is currently second on the Pack in scoring with 13.6 points a game. He ranks 20th in the ACC in scoring, and has improved his scoring average from 10.6 points last season and 10.9 as a sophomore.
He has gone over 20 points twice already this season, after accomplishing that feat only four previous times in his career. In the win over High Point Fells tied his career high with 23 points, and went for 22 points against UNC Greensboro.
FIREPOWER OFF THE BENCH
NC State is getting better production in terms of scoring from its bench players, as the bench points have gone from under 24 percent last season to 32.2 percent through the first five games.
Sophomore Tracy Smith leads the charge for scoring off the bench, as his 7.8 points a game this season rank fourth on the Wolfpack. He has scored 39 points in his 54 minutes played this season. Redshirt junior Trevor Ferguson is the top long distance threat off the bench, ranking fifth on the team in scoring (6.8). He has hit at least one three-pointer in 10 straight games dating back to last season, and is a career 40.0 percent threepoint shooter.