NOTEBOOK: Can State Upset Duke?

NC State (12-6) returns to action tonight at home against rival Duke (15-2). Tip-off is at 9:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on Raycom.

NC State Hosts Duke
NC State will face its third straight ranked foe, when the Wolfpack plays host to No. 7 Duke Wednesday at the RBC Center. Last week, NC State (12-6, 1-3 ACC) won at No. 25 Florida State then fell to No. 24 Clemson at home. Duke (15-2, 3-1 ACC) comes in having won nine of the last 10 games, including a 3-1 mark in ACC play.

The game will be broadcasted on Raycom with Tim Brando and Dan Bonner.

The Series Versus Duke
Wedneday's matchup will be the 232nd meeting between NC State and Duke, with the Blue Devils holding a 135-96 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 fifth time in the last six years the teams have met just once in conference play.

Duke holds a 68-55 lead in games played in Raleigh, including a 6-2 edge in games at the RBC Center. 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. The last time the teams faced off at the RBC Center, No. 7 Duke came out with a 87-86 win in 2008.

Duke has won three straight games in the series, and has won 28 of the last 32 games played in the series dating back to the 1995 ACC Tournament. 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.

Last Season Versus Duke
No. 2 Duke closed the game on a 19-3 run, and overcame a four-point halftime deficit to down NC State 73-56 in Durham on January 20. NC State limited Duke to just 29.0 percent (9-31) from the field in the first half, enroute to a 26-22 lead at the break.

The Blue Devils heated up in the second 20 minutes, hitting 76.9 percent (20-26) from the field and made six-of-seven three-pointers in scoring 51 second half points. A Tracy Smith layup made the score 54-53 Duke at the 7:59 mark, but the Pack would only score three more points the rest of the contest. Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley each scored 15 points for NC State.

• NC State will be facing its third straight ranked opponent, the Pack won at No. 25 Florida State then fell to No. 24 Clemson
• NC State has outscored or tied its opponents in the second half in 13 of the 18 games, including 10 of the last 12.
• The Pack has averaged 8.0 made three-pointers over the last eight games, hitting at least 10 three-pointers in four different games.
• NC State has hit 40.5 percent (83-205) of its three-pointers in the 12 wins, but just 27.0 percent (31-115) in its 6 losses.
• Tracy Smith is seventh in the ACC in scoring (16.9), fourth in rebounding (8.8), and fifth in field goal percentage (.537).
• Farnold Degand has averaged 9.1 points in 25.1 minutes over the last seven games, making 9-of-20 three-pointers. Against Holy Cross, he set a career-high with nine assists.
• Freshman Scott Wood's 31 points and seven made three-pointers at Florida State were both the third-most totals in a single game for a Wolfpack freshman.
• Wood is averaging 12.6 points over the last nine games. He has gone 29-of-60 (.483) from three-point range. He has hit 28 three-pointers over the last eight contests, and has made at least two in eight straight games.
• Julius Mays has averaged 11.8 points over the last four games. He has gone 23-of-24 from the free throw line, and has made his last 18 attempts.
• Freshman Richard Howell recorded his first career double-double against Clemson, with career-highs of 13 points and 12 boards.
• NC State has five scholarship freshmen this season. Of the Pack's 12 players on scholarship, only four are either seniors or juniors.

Last Time Out for NC State
Down by as many as 18 points in the second half, NC State cut the lead down to one point in the final minutes but could not over take the lead, as No. 24 Clemson held on to defeat the Pack 73-70 at the RBC Center on Saturday. NC State was down 45-28 at the half, and fell behind 49-31 with 18:06 left. But the Pack battled back the rest of the half, and cut Clemson's lead to 71-70 with 1:52 left. The Pack would not score the rest of the game, and missed a pair of three-pointers in the final 5.7 seconds that would of tied the game.

Julius Mays came off the bench to lead the Pack with 17 points, while freshman Richard Howell recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Pack Versus Ranked Foes
Wedneday's game against No. 7 Duke will mark the third straight ranked opponent for NC State this season, and the second straight at home. NC State knocked off No. 25 Florida State in its first game against a ranked foe this season, and picked up an ACC road win at a ranked foe for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

NC State then fell to No. 24 Clemson, 73-70, at the RBC Center.

In Coach Lowe's first three seasons, the Pack complied a record of 6-17 against all ranked foes. NC State was 3-6 at home, 1-10 away, and 2-1 on a neutral court. Lowe's home wins were against No. 3 UNC in 2007, No. 21 Miami in 2008, and No. 7 Wake Forest last season.

Pack Playing Ranked Duke
Playing a ranked Duke foe is not an uncommon feat for NC State, as Wedneday's meeting will be the 74th time NC State has faced a top-10 Duke squad. The Pack is 16-57 against Duke in those previous games.

Wood Named ACC Rookie of the Week: Scott Wood was named the ACC Rookie of the Week for his performance against a couple of ranked foes last week. Wood averaged 21.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 33.0 minutes of action in the Pack's two ACC games last week. In the Pack's 88-81 win at No. 25 Florida State, Wood set career-highs with 31 points and seven rebounds. Wood was 7-of-11 from three-point range, tying for the third-most three-pointers made in a game in NC State history. Wood's 31 points and seven made three-pointers are both the third-highest single game total for a NC State freshman.

In the Pack's 73-70 loss to No. 24 Clemson, Wood finished with 11 points and four rebounds in 29 minutes. Wood also finished 3-of-8 from three-point range, hitting three of the Pack's four three-pointers in the game.

Mays Getting the Point
Sophomore Julius Mays has been the Pack's to scorer off the bench this season at 6.9 points a game, but his recent performances have gotten him more playing time at point guard, especially late in games.

Over the last four games, Mays has come off the bench to average 11.8 points, and has played more minutes than starter Javier Gonzalez in three of those games. He has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time in his career, hitting all 10 free throws in the Pack's win at No. 25 Florida State then leading the Pack with 17 points against No. 24 Clemson.

Mays currently ranks second in the ACC in free throw percentage, hitting 89.1 percent (49-55) of his attempts this season. He has gone 23-of-24 from the free throw line over the last four games, including hitting his last 18 attempts.

You Have to Respect Wood
NC State's opponents have found out as of late they have to respect the outside shooting of freshman Scott Wood. Wood was thrust into the Pack's starting lineup in the preseason, and started off strong averaging 9.0 points in the first four games of the season. He then went into a bit of a slump, scoring just 2.8 points over the next five outings, including struggling from three-point range hitting just 2-of-18 attempts.

Wood has returned to his early season form, averaging 12.6 points over the last nine games shooting 29-of-60 (.483) from three-point range. Wood has made 28 three-pointers over the last eight games, and has at least two three-pointers in eight straight games.

Wood's breakout game came at Florida State, when the freshman poured in 31 points in helping the Pack upset No. 25 FSU, 88-81. Wood was 7-of-11 from three-point range, and his scoring total and made three-pointers were both the third-best for a Wolfpack freshman in a game in school history. He also pulled down a season-high seven rebounds.

Aside from his performance at Florida State, Wood has also hit five three-pointers at UNC Greensboro, and has buried four long range bombs against Florida.

Three-Point Range Found
NC State has taken advantage of opponents double-teaming Tracy Smith in the post, as the Pack's perimeter game has been red hot.

NC State has averaged 8.0 three-pointers a game the last eight games, connecting on at least 10 apiece Winthrop, UNCG, Holy Cross, and at No. 25 Florida State. In the last eight games, the Pack has hit 64- of-161 (.398) percent from long range, only once hitting fewer than seven in a game twice (both home ACC losses).

A strong game from three-point range has helped the Pack to victory, as NC State has hit 40.5 percent (83-205) of its three-pointers in the 12 wins, but just 27.0 percent (31-115) in its six losses. The Pack has also shot better from long range away from Raleigh, as in the eight road/neutral games NC State has hit 42.0 percent (58-138) compared to only 30.8 percent (56-182) in the 10 home games this season.

Howell Adds Depth
Freshman Richard Howell had to wait a few weeks for his Wolfpack career to start, but now healthy, Howell is a major contributor to the Pack's front line as the back-up at power forward. He has averaged 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds in 15.5 minutes of action the last seven games.

Howell recorded his first career double-double with career-highs of 13 points and 12 rebounds against No. 24 Clemson. In the win at No. 25 Florida State, Howell had seven points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes. In both games, Howell was in at the end of the game.

Howell has led the Pack in rebounding twice this season, despite not starting either game (13 against Clemson and seven against Holy Cross).

Howell underwent knee surgery in early October, and missed the entire preseason, and sat out the Pack's first four games of the season.

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