Notebook: Pack, Canes Need a Win

NC State (10-7, 1-4) faces Miami (15-4, 3-3) as both teams are looking to bounce back from conference losses. Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

  • NC State is a perfect 3-0 against Miami in games played in Raleigh.

  • Ben McCauley is just 11 points shy of 1,000 for his career.

  • Brandon Costner became the 41st Wolfpack player to score 1,000 career points earlier this season.

  • McCauley and Costner will became only the eighth and ninth players in school history to record 1,000 career points, 500 career rebounds and 150 career assists.

  • McCauley and Costner will also be the first set of teammates to record both 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.

  • Courtney Fells could become the third member of this year's team to record 1,000 career points, he is currently 93 points shy.

  • NC State has committed 17.2 turnovers a game over the last six games, just 12.5 in the first 11 games of the season.

  • NC State's three non-conference losses are by a combined 10 points this season.

  • 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 16 games.

  • NC State is eighth in rebounding margin in the ACC (+4.1) after finishing last a year ago (-1.0).

  • NC State has won the rebounding battle in 13 of the 17 games this season.

  • NC State is third in the ACC in scoring defense giving up 64.4 points per game.

  • NC State is fifth the ACC in 3FG percentage defense (.311) and is also seventh in the ACC in FG percentage defense (.400).

    NC State opens a three-game homestand this Tuesday, as the Pack plays host to the Miami Hurricanes at 7:00 p.m. NC State split its first two ACC home contests this season, and has won all three previous games against Miami played in Raleigh.

    The game will be broadcasted on ESPNU by Beth Mowins and Drew Barry.

    Tuesday's matchup will mark only the eighth meeting between NC State and Miami. The Wolfpack leads the overall series 4-3, with a perfect 3-0 record when the teams have played in Raleigh, but Miami leads 2-1 in games played on the Canes home court, and Miami also won the only matchup on a neutral court.

    The two teams split last season, with NC State winning in overtime in Raleigh, and then Miami claiming a win in the ACC Tournament. The Hurricanes won the lone game in 2007, winning at home, 80-65. NC State won both games against the Hurricanes during the 2005-06 season - winning by 12 (81-69) in Raleigh and then fighting to an 86-77 double-overtime win at Coral Gables.

    The two squads met just once in 2004-05, Miami's first year in the ACC. The Pack fell, 66- 67. The only other game was played in 1939-40, a 46-35 Wolfpack win.

    The teams met two times last season, once in Raleigh and once at the ACC Tournament in the first round. Each team notched one win.

    A Gavin Grant steal and layup with 2.1 seconds left, gave NC State its first ACC win of the seson, 79-77 over No. 21 Miami in overtime at the RBC Center on January 19. The Canes were up 76-72 in overtime, when Courtney Fells hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds left. After a Miami free throw made the score 77-75, J.J. Hickson converted an offensive rebound to tie the game with 3.9 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Grant stole the ball and scored the winning basket. The Pack finished the game 11-of-18 (61.1%) from three-point range, the most three-pointers made in the Sidney Lowe era.

    A poor first-half offensive performance led to the Pack's ninth straight loss, a 63-50 loss in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte on March 13. NC State made just 5-of-22 shots in the first half, and did not score its first basket of the game until the 10:35 mark. The Pack had six turnovers and seven missed shots in its first 13 possessions.

    Freshman J.J. Hickson came off the bench to record a double-double of 27 points and 14 rebounds, as he was the only Wolfpack player to reach double figures.

    Boston College closed out the first half on a 25-10 run and never lost the lead in the second half, as NC State fell 79-68 in Chestnut Hill on Saturday. The score was tied 17-17 with 9:51 left, but BC would use that run to build a 42-27 halftime lead. After giving up the first four points of the second half, NC State scored 16 straight points and get within three points with 14:21 left, but would get no closer the rest of the way. The Eagles outrebounded the Pack 46-25, and also had 22 offensive rebounds. Tracy Smith scored 15 of his team leading 17 points in the second half, while Ben McCauley added 15 points.

    NC State started off the season protecting the ball, but the Pack has been forced into many unforced turnovers over the last six games, going 1-5 in that span as a result. In the first 11 games of the season the Pack was averaging 12.5 turnovers an outing, but over the last five games NC State has committed an average of 17.2 a game. A good sign for the Pack could be NC State committed just 10 turnovers at Boston College, its lowest total in seven games.

    With the rash of injuries suffered by the Pack, NC State has used a total of eight different starting lineups through 17 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 17 starts at power forward and Ben McCauley has started every game at center.

    Redshirt junior Brandon Costner has come on as of late, averaging 15.7 points over the last 11 games, scoring over 20 points four times. Costner now leads the Wolfpack in scoring this season, averaging 14.1 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 fo 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 (13.2) and leads in rebounding (7.6). McCauley has increased his scoring 7.1 points a game from last season, the fourth largest increase in the ACC. His average of 7.6 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 14 of the 17 games.

    While NC State is led by three four-year players, a trio of freshmen players have seen increased action during the ACC part of the schedule.

    C.J. Williams started the first five games of the season at shooting guard, and has once again been the starter the last three games. Since he did not see action in backto- back games at Florida and at Clemson, Williams has averaged 17.3 minutes over the last four games.

    Point guard Julius Mays has been the Pack's back-up for most of the season, but has logged three starts. Mays is averaging 5.6 points in ACC play.

    After not seeing action in three straight games, redshirt freshman Johnny Thomas has averaged 14.8 minutes over the last four games seeing action at small forward.

    NC State's three non-conference losses this season, to Davidson, Marquette and Florida, were decided 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.

    The game 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 four ACC losses, losing by an average of 13.3 But a pair of those games also came down to the final minutes. At Duke, the Blue Devils held a 54-53 lead at the 7:59 mark before closing the game on a 19-3 run. The story was almost the same against Florida State as the score was tied 63-63 with 5:23 left before FSU's final 19-2 run.

    NC State has improved its shooting as of late, as the Wolfpack is shooting 47.0 percent (293-623) over the last 12 games, despite shooting 41.5 percent in its first five ACC games. The Pack has been over 50.0 percent in six of those last 12 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 52-of-137 (38.0 percent) over the last 10 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 45.8 percent from the field, with Ben McCauley leading the way (.565).

    The NC State defense has been leading the way for Pack this season. The Wolfpack currently ranks third in the ACC giving up 64.3 points per game, as only nine of the 17 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 seventh in the conference in field goal percentage defense (.400) and fifth in three-point field goal percentage defense (.311).

    Only eight 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.

    NC State currently is currently fifth in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage defense this season. Opponent's have only hit 31.1 percent (91-293) of their long range ties this year.

    But over the last three games, the Pack has been hurt from long range. Georgia Tech, Duke, and Boston College have combined for 47.1 percent (24-51) on their three-pointers.

    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 15 games, teams have combined to shoot just 29.3 percent (75-256), with only six teams finishing above 31.0 percent in a game.

    A season after finishing last in the ACC in rebound margin (-1.0), the Pack has changed things around this season.

    NC State is currently eighth in the ACC, outrebounding its opponents and average of 4.1 boards a games.

    The Pack has won the rebound battle in 13 of the 17 games this season, only outrebounded against Davidson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Boston College.

    Two Wolfpack players are currently in the top-20 in the ACC in rebounding, Ben Mc- Cauley leads the team and is 12th in the ACC (7.6) while Brandon Costner is 19th (6.3). Both players have surpassed 15 boards in a game this season.

    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 32.9 percent this year. NC State has posted more bench points than the opponent in 13 of the 17 games this season.

    Sophomore Tracy Smith is the leading scorer off the bench, as his 8.9 points a game this season ranks fourth on the Wolfpack. He has scored 152 points in his 231 minutes played this season, and is shooting 52.8 percent (57-108) from the field.

    Junior Dennis Horner is the back-up at power forward this season, and is the second leading scorer off the bench at 4.9 points in 15.6 minutes a game. Horner scored five of the Pack's final six points in the overtime win against Georgia Tech.

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