NC STATE TRAVELS TO FLORIDA
NC State leaves the state of North Carolina for the first time since the season opener, as the Wolfpack travels to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The Pack will be on the road for the second time this season, as NC State previously won at New Orleans on November 15, and then fell to then-No. 22 Davidson in Charlotte on December 6.
The game will be broadcasted on CBS by Gus Johnson and Greg Anthony.
THE SERIES VERSUS FLORIDA
NC State and Florida will meet for the ninth time in the history of the two programs. NC State currently holds a 6-2 advantage in the series, including winning all four previous matchups in Gainesville.
The series started in 1920-21 with Florida coming out on top 39-19 in Raleigh, then the Pack won the next six game in the series, the first two in Raleigh then four straight at Florida. The Gators won the last time the two teams met, 82-70, in the first round of the 1987 NCAA Tournament in Syracuse, N.Y.
THE PACK VERSUS THE SEC
NC State holds a record of 81-56 against teams that are currently in the SEC. The Pack last played a SEC last season, defeating South Carolina in the Old Spice Classic on Orlando, Fla., and last traveled to a SEC opponent during the 2005-06 season, coming away with a 68-64 win at Alabama.
NC STATE-FLORIDA CONNECTIONS
The are a few different connections between the Wolfpack and the Gators, involving a pair of coaches and a current player.
Current NC State associate head coach Monte Towe was once an assistant coach with the Florida Gators. Towe's first stint as an assistant coach at NC State ended when Towe took the same position at Florida for the 1980-81 season. Towe would stay at Florida through the 1988-89 season.
Towe left the Pack when NC State head coach Norm Sloan returned to Gainesville for his second stint as head coach of the Gators. Sloan coached a total of 15 seasons at Florida, from 1960-61 to 1965-66, and returned for 1980-81 to 1988-89. Sloan was the Pack's head coach from 1966-67 to 1979-80, and won the 1974 National Championship.
Florida junior forward Dan Werner was once a signee of the Wolfpack in the fall of 2005, but after Herb Sendek left for Arizona State, Werner was released from his letter of intent and signed with Florida.
LAST TIME OUT FOR NC STATE
NC State's Tracy Smith posted career-highs of 31 points and seven rebounds and led the Pack to its second win in three days, defeating visiting Towson 88- 68 on New Year's Eve. Towson jumped out to an 18-7 lead to start the game, but Smith would score NC State's next 11 points and eventually go into the half up 46-21. Smith finished the day 10-of-15 from the field, and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line in 23 minutes.
Brandon Costner recorded his third double-double of the season, with 15 points and a career-best 10 assists. NC State had its top shooting performance of the season (53.8 percent), and had five players in double figures for the first time since the 2007 NIT.
KEEP THE BAGS UNPACKED
After opening the season on the road for the first time since 1997, the Wolfpack did not have to leave the state of North Carolina until this weekend's contest at Florida.
After its win at New Orleans to open the season, NC State played nine of 10 games all at home, with the only road contest during that span being December 6 in Charlotte against Davidson.
FERGUSON TO MISS TIME
Trevor Ferguson has been out of action the last two games due to a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal bone (ring finger) on his non-shooting hand. The injury occurred during the Pack's game against Marquette on December 22, and he will be in a splint. Ferguson's timetable for a return was set at 3-6 weeks.
Ferguson had started the last four games before he was injured for the Pack at shooting guard, after coming off the bench the first five games of the season. He is currently fifth on the team with 7.9 points a game, including 41.5 percent (17-41) from three-point range this season.
Since he entered the starting lineup for the Winston-Salem State game on December 13, he averaged 31.0 minutes a game.
MORE WITH INJURIES
So far this season, a total of four different players have missed a total of 10 games due to injuries, with Trevor Ferguson and Javier Gonzalez each missing the Pack's two games this past week. Sophomore point guard Javier Gonzalez has played just two minutes over the last four games after suffering from two different injuries. He suffered a cut on his elbow against East Carolina. and missed the the Lipscomb game on December 20, and played just two minutes against Marquette on December 22. More recently, Gonzalez was forced to miss the wins against Loyola and Towson due to a sprained ankle suffered in practice after Christmas.
Senior Courtney Fells had a string of 44 consecutive starts snapped against Winston-Salem State on December 13, and missed two games due to an ankle injury suffered at Davidson on December 6. Fells has returned to the starting lineup the last three games, averaging 11.3 points in 31.0 minutes despite still being bothered by the ankle injury.
Junior point guard Farnold Degand started the Pack's first game of the season, but missed the second half of that game at New Orleans, and played only 15 minutes over the first six games of the season. He has since returned and averaged 18.4 minutes over the last five games, including returning as the starter at point guard the last two games.
THE CHANGING LINEUP
With the rash of injuries suffered by the Pack, NC State has used a total of six different starting lineups through the first 11 games of the season.
The Wolfpack has used three different starters at three different positions: point guard, shooting guard and small forward. The only constant for the Pack has been the frontcourt, where Brandon Costner has all 11 starts at power forward and Ben McCauley has started every game at center.
SMITH HAS CAREER DAY
Sophomore Tracy Smith has been instant offense off the bench for the Pack this season, and he had a career game in the win over Towson.
Smith finished with career-highs of 31 points and seven rebounds in just 23 minutes, the first time in his career he led the Pack in either scoring or rebounds in a game. Smith went 10-of-15 from the field and hit all 11 of his free throw attempts (he came into the game hitting just 16-of-30 free throw attempts on the season.) He hit the most free throws in a game without a miss for a Pack player since Cameraon Bennerman hit all 12 of his tried in a 2006 game against Wake Forest.
COSTNER HITS MILESTONES
Redshirt junior Brandon Costner reeached a trio of milestones over the last couple weeks of the season. On December 22 against Marquette, Costner became the 41st player in school history to score 1,000 career points. He then recorded his 500th career rebound and 150th career assist in the win over Towson.
Costner became on the eighth player in NC State history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 assists during his career.
NC State has improved its shooting as of late, as the Wolfpack is shooting 50.3 percent (157-312) over the last six games. The Pack has been over 50.0 percent in five of those last six games, including a season best performance of 53.8 percent against Towson.
NC State has also increased its production behind the three-point line, as the Pack is 26-of-49 (53.1 percent) over the last four games, an improvement from the 31.3 percent shot in the first seven games of the season.
PACK STOUT ON DEFENSE
The NC State defense has helped the Pack to a 9-2 start on the season. The Wolfpack currently leads the ACC giving up a mere 60.1 points per game, as only four of the first 11 opponents have scored over 60 points in a game.
The Wolfpack is third the conference in field goal percentage defense (.371) and fourth three-point field goal percentage defense (.290).
Only three opponents have shot over 40.0 percent in a game this season, New Orleans (.458), Marquette (.482), and Loyola (.414), and the Pack is allowing the opposition to hit just 36.2 percent of its shots at home this season.
In Sidney Lowe's three seasons, the Wolfpack is 7-0 when it holds opponents under 50 points, a perfect 17-0 when teams score under 60 points, and 33-4 when holding teams to under 70 points.
OPPONENTS DON'T HAVE RANGE
Not only does the Pack rank third in the ACC in field goal percentage defense, but NC State is also fourth in three-point field goal percentage defense. Opponent's have only hit 29.0 percent (61-210) of their long range ties.
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 eight games, teams have combined to shoot just 26.0 percent (45-173), with only Marquette and Towson finishing above 31.0 percent in a game.
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION