Notebook: Pack Looks to Upset Devils

NC State (10-5, 1-2) hits the road to face in-state rival Duke (16-1, 3-0). Tip-off is at 8:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on Raycom.

  • NC State has lost its last 11 trips to Duke, last winning in Cameron in 1995.

  • NC State has committed 18.5 turnovers a game over the last four games, just 12.5 in the first 11 games of the season.

  • NC State's has lost its five games by an average of 7.0 points, and its first three losses were by a combined 10 points.

  • Three different players have started at each point guard, shooting guard, and small forward this season for NC State. The Pack has had eight different starting lineups in the 15 games.

  • NC State has hit 41.3 percent (45-109) of its three-pointers over the last eight games, after hitting just 31.3 percent in the first seven games.

  • NC State has allowed its last 12 opponents to shoot just 27.4 percent (61-223) from threepoint range.

  • NC State is fourth in the ACC in scoring defense giving up 62.7 points per game.

  • NC State is third the ACC in 3FG percentage defense (.296) and is also fourth in the ACC in FG percentage defense (.391).

  • NC State is seven in rebounding margin in the ACC (+5.3) after finishing last a year ago (-1.0).

  • NC State has won the rebounding battle in 12 of the 15 games this season.

  • Brandon Costner became the 41st Wolfpack player to score 1,000 career points. Courtney Fells (109) and Ben McCauley (41) are both within reach of 1,000 career points as well.

  • Costner also became only the eighth player in school history to record 1,000 career points, 500 career rebounds and 150 career assists.

    NC State hits the road its second conference game of the season on Tuesday, when the Wolfpack travels to No. 2 Duke for an 8:00 p.m. contest. The Pack is coming off a 76-71 overtime win at home against Georgia Tech over the weekend, its first ACC win of the season. NC State is also looking for its first win at Duke since 1995, as Duke has won the last 11 meetings at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

    The game will be broadcasted on Raycom by Steve Martin and Mike Gminiski.

    Tuesday's matchup will be the 231st meeting between NC State and Duke, with the Blue Devils holding a 134-96 lead in the series. The series is the second- longest in Wolfpack history, dating back to the 1911-12 season. This is the only regular season game between the teams, the fourth time in the last five years the teams have met just once in conference play.

    Duke holds a 53-30 advantage in games played in Durham, including winning the last 11 meetings, and 17 of the last 18 games. The last win for the Pack in Cameron was a 77-60 showing during the 1994-95 season.

    The Pack's luck at home has been different, as NC State has won two of the last five matchups with the Blue Devils in Raleigh, winning 80-71 against third-ranked Duke in 2003, and knocking off the Blue Devils, 78-74, when they were ranked No. 1 in 2004.

    Duke had won 13 straight games over NC State prior to the Pack's 2003 upset and has won 27 of the last 31 games played in the series. Besides the two wins in Raleigh, NC State's other two wins during that time frame were both in the ACC Tournament. In Coach Lowe's first season, the 10th-seeded Pack knocked out seventh-seed Duke, 85-80 in overtime in the first round, and in 1997 NC State posted a 66-60 victory over the top-seeded Blue Devils in the quarterfinals.

    The two teams met twice during the regular season last year, with Duke winning by 20 at home, and also coming away with a one point win in Raleigh.

    NC State jumped out to a nine-point halftime lead, but could not hold off No. 3 Duke in Durham, falling 92-72 on January 31. The Pack played perhaps its best half of the season, shooting 57.7 percent (15-26) enroute to 46 first half points. However in the second half, the Blue Devils scored 55 points shooting 65.6 percent (21-32). Duke knocked in seven of 11 second-half three-point attempts, and shot 65.6 percent from the field overall in that half. Gavin Grant scored a career-high 26 points, and J.J. Hickson recorded his third straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

    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 on March 1. After a lay-up put NC state up 83-76 with 3:24 left, the Pack would not score another basket 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.

    NC State used a late surge to overcome a 10-point second half defecit, and picked up its first ACC win of the season, over Georgia Tech in overtime, 76-71, on Saturday at the RBC Center. The Yellow Jackets held a 54-64 lead with 4:40 remaining, but the Pack would close the game on a 13-3 run to force overtime thanks to a three-point play by Farnold Degand with 30 seconds left. NC State would outscore Georgia Tech in the extra period 9-4, with Dennis Horner scoring five of the Pack's final six points. Brandon Costner paced the Pack withh 22 points, while Ben McCauley added his fifth double-double of the season as he finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

    No. 2 Duke marks the third ranked opponent NC State will face this season, with all three taking place on the road. NC State fell to No. 22 Davidson 72-67 in Charlotte, and at No. 12 Clemson in the Pack's first ACC game, 63-51.

    In Coach Lowe's first two seasons, the Pack complied a record of 5-11 against all ranked foes. NC State was 2-5 at home, 1-5 away, and 2-1 on a neutral court. Lowe's road win came at No. 16 Virginia Tech, 70-59, in 2007.

    Playing a ranked Duke foe is not an uncommon feat for NC State, as Tuesday's meeting will be the 73rd time NC State has faced a top-10 Duke squad. The Pack is 16-56 against Duke in those previous games, including a record of 3- 23 in games at Duke when the Blue Devils were in the top-10 at the time.

    While NC State is led by three four-year players, a trio of freshmen players have seen increased action over the last couple of games. The Pack broke out a new starting backcourt in the last game against Georgia Tech, as freshmen Julius Mays and C.J. Williams were both in the starting lineup. Mays is averaging 7.0 points in ACC play this season, and Williams has averaged 19.5 minutes and 6.0 points over the last two games.

    After not seeing action in three straight games, redshirt freshman Johnny Thomas has averaged 14.5 minutes over the last two games seeing action at small forward. Close Losses: Nobody can say the final minute of some Wolfpack games this season haven't been exciting. NC State's five losses this season are by an average of 7.0 points, and the first three were are by a combined 10 points with each of those games decided in the final seconds.

    The Pack's first loss of the season was at Davidson on December 6. With Davidson up one, Stephen 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 for the 72-67 win.

    Against Marquette on December 22, it was Marquette's Dominic James hitting a hree-pointer with just 00.4 seconds left, as NC State fell to the Golden Eagles 68-65. Last time out at Florida was also decided on the last possession. The Pack was up one after a goaltending call with 28 seconds left, but Florida's Nick Calathes got the go-ahead basket with 11.3 seconds left. The Pack called a timeout, but were forced into a turnover with 3.1 seconds left, and Calathes would add a final free throw for the decisive 68-66 margin.

    The Pack has not had such luck in its two ACC losses, losing by 12 at Clemson and by 13 at home to Florida State.

    Trevor Ferguson has returned to action after missing missed three straight 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. Ferguson started the first two ACC games, and came off the bench against Georgia Tech. He is still limited with the injury to his hand.

    He returned to the Pack's starting lineup at Clemson, and played a season-high 37 minutes. Although he was held to five points, Ferguson was clutch on the defensive end at Clemson, as he drew the assignment of covering Clemson's top deep threat, Terrence. Oglesby was just 1-of-5 from the field, and failed to hit a three-pointer for the first time in 24 games.

    He only played 11 first half minutes against Florida State due to the hand injury, and that was his first scoreless game of the season.

    But Ferguson returned to form in the overtime win over Georgia Tech. He hit two three-pointers late in the first half, and finished with 11 points off the bench.

    With the rash of injuries suffered by the Pack, NC State has used a total of eight different starting lineups through 15 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 15 starts at power forward and Ben Mc- Cauley has started every game at center.

    NC State started off the season protecting the ball, but the Pack has been caused into many turnovers over the last four games, going 1-3 in that span.

    In the first 11 games of the season the Pack was averaging 12.5 turnovers an outing, but over the last four games NC State has committed an average of 18.5 a game.

    Coming into the season, freshman Julius Mays was third on the depth chart at point guard. But his patience has paid off, as his playing time has increased and he has earned a three starts this season, including last game against Georgia Tech.

    When Farnold Degand went down with a knee injury in the first game of the season, Mays became the Pack's back-up point guard in the first six games of the year. With a healthy Degand and Javier Gonzalez in the lineup against East Carolina, Mays did not see action.

    But with Gonzalez bothered by an elbow injury, Mays got the call in two starts before Christmas break, including his first career start against Lipscomb on December 20. Mays finished that game with nine points and seven assists in 24 minutes, but more importantly he did not commit a single turnover.

    Mays has been even more impressive in ACC play, as he is scoring 7.0 points a game in conference play. He scored a career- best 13 points, including 11 in the second half against Florida State. In his first ACC contest at Clemson he finished with eight points in just 11 minutes.

    He has also been steady from the free throw line, hitting 19-of-21 on the season.

    NC State has improved its shooting as of late, as the Wolfpack is shooting 47.5 percent (245-516) over the last 10 games, despite shooting 39.3 percent in its first three ACC games. The Pack has been over 50.0 percent in six of those last 10 games, including a season best performance of 58.5 percent at Florida.

    NC State has also increased its production behind the three-point line, as the Pack is 45-of-109 (41.3 percent) over the last eight games, an improvement from the 31.3 percent shot in the first seven games of the season.

    On the season, each of the Pack's top four scorers are all shooting at least 46.1 percent from the field, with Ben McCauley leading the way (.569).

    NC State currently is currently third in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage defense this season. Opponent's have only hit 29.6 percent (77-260) of their long range ties this year, and three of the last four opponents (Florida, Clemson, and Florida St.) have each only made two three-pointers in a game.

    NC State has improved 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 13 games, teams have combined to shoot just 27.4 percent (61-223), with only four teams finishing above 31.0 percent in a game.

    The NC State defense has been leading the way for Pack this season. The Wolfpack currently ranks fourth in the ACC giving up 62.9 points per game, as only eight of the first 15 opponents have scored over 60 points in a game. NC State led the ACC through the first 12 games of its season in that category. The Wolfpack is fourth in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.391) and third in three-point field goal percentage defense (.296).

    Only six opponents have shot over 40.0 percent in a game 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 33-6 when holding teams to under 70 points.

    Redshirt junior Brandon Costner has come on as of late, averaging 16.9 points over the last nine games, scoring over 20 points four times. Costner now leads the Wolfpack in scoring this season, averaging 14.6 points.

    He had perhaps his top shooting performance of his career against Marquette in scoring a game-high 24 points. He was 9-of-10 from the field, and hit all five of his three-point attempts.

    Against Towson, Costner finished with his third double-double for the season with 15 points and a career-best 10 assists. He became the first non-point guard to record double figures in assists since the first game of the 2005-06 season.

    Senior Ben McCauley is enjoying a fine senior season, as he currently is second on the Pack in scoring (12.9) and leads in rebounding (7.9).

    McCauley has increased his scoring 6.8 points a game from last season, the second largest increase in the ACC. His average of 7.9 boards is also a career-best average, bettering the 6.9 he pulled down as a sophomore two years ago.

    He has recorded five double-doubles this season, and he leads the Wolfpack with scoring in double figures in 12 of the 15 games.

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