NOTEBOOK: Tough Road Test for State

NC State (13-6) returns to action tomorrow on the road against ACC rival Maryland (12-5). Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

• NC State has downed two ranked teams over the last eight days, downing No. 25 Florida State and No. 7 Duke.
• NC State has committed 11 turnovers or less in four of the last five games, with three of those games under 10.
• NC State has outscored or tied its opponents in the second half in 14 of the 19 games, including 11 of the last 13.
• NC State has had five players score in double in each of the last two games.
• NC State has hit 40.6 percent (88-217) of its three-pointers in the 13 wins, but just 27.0 percent (31-115) in its 6 losses.
• Tracy Smith is seventh in the ACC in scoring (17.2), sixth in rebounding (8.6), and third in field goal percentage (.553).
• Farnold Degand has averaged 11.7 points and 3.7 assists in 30.3 minutes since moving into the starting lineup the past three games.
• 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 13.6 points over the last seven games, six times in double figures. He has gone 24-of-47 (.511) from three-point range in that time.
• Julius Mays has averaged 9.8 points over the last five games. He has gone 23-of-24 from the free throw line, and has made his last 18 attempts.
• Freshman Richard Howell has averaged 9.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 19.7 minutes over the last three games.
• NC State has five scholarship freshmen this season. Of the Pack's 12 players on scholarship, only four are either seniors or juniors.

NC State Travels to Maryland
NC State will travel up to College Park, Md., this weekend as the Maryland Terrapins play host to the Pack on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. NC State is coming off three straight games against ranked foes, winning at No. 25 Florida State (88-81) and downing No. 7 Duke at home on Tuesday (88-74).

Maryland currently sits in second place in the conference at 2-1. The game is the only one during the regular season for the two teams.

The game will be broadcasted on ESPN2 with Mike Patrick and Lem Elmore.

The Series Versus Maryland Saturday's meeting will mark the 145th in a series that dates back to the 1924-25 season. The overall series is currenlty tied, 72-72. NC State has won just five of the last 20 meetings, and eight of the last 38 dating back to the 1991-92 campaign. Prior to that streak, the Pack had won nine of the previous 12 matchups.

Maryland has won five straight in the series by an average of 13.0 points, and NC State will be looking to defeat the Terrapins for the first time under Sidney Lowe. Maryland won in Raleigh last season, 71-60, and again at the ACC Tournament in Atlanta, 74-69. In 2008, Maryland won in College Park by 14 points. The Terps won both contests in 2007 as well, winning by 15 in Raleigh then by 20 in College Park.

Prior to that season, the Wolfpack was on a three-game winning streak against the Terrapins, winning the only contest in 2006 (62-58 in Raleigh) and sweeping Maryland during the 2004-05 regular season for the first time since 1988-89.

The Pack has won two of the last four games in the Comcast Center (wins in 2004 and 2005), and is 2-3 overall in the building. Prior to 2004, NC State had lost 14 straight at Maryland.

Last Season Versus Maryland Maryland claimed a couple of wins over the Pack last season, winning at the RBC Center in the regular season and against at the ACC Tournament in Atlanta.

Maryland's Greivis Vasquez poured in 33 points, as the Terrapins defeated NC State 71-60 at the RBC Center on March 1. Maryland led 34-25 with 4:06 to go in the first half, but the Pack would go on an 8-0 run to end the half and close it to 34-33. NC State would grab its first and only lead of the game, 49-47 at the 9:15 mark of the second half, but Maryland eventually closed the game on a 24-11 run. The Pack shot 50.0 percent (23-46) from the field, but Maryland's 3-2 zone defense limited the Pack to just 46 shots. Tracy Smith led the Pack with 19 points and nine rebounds, while point guard Javier Gonzalez had 11 points and five assists.

For the second time in 12 days, NC State fell to Maryland, this loss ended the Pack's season at the ACC Tournament, 74-69, on March 12. The Wolfpack owned a 62-61 advantage with 4:05 remaining, but the Terps converted on 15 of its last 16 possessions, scoring 10 unanswered points to take control of the game. Maryland's Eric Hayes came off the bench to hit five-of-six three-pointers and finished with 21 points, while Greivis Vasquez finished with 17 points and 10 assists.

Julius Mays came off the bench for the Pack, and scored a career-high 18 points, while Ben McCauley added 14 points and seven rebounds.

Last Time Out for NC State
On his 22nd birthday Tracy Smith went 10-of-12 from the field for a game-high 23 points and Dennis Horner added 20 points, as NC State knocked off its second ranked foe in eight days when the Pack downed No. 7 Duke, 88-74, at the RBC Center Wednesday night. NC State captured the lead at 14-13 eight minutes into the game, and never trailed building its lead to as many as 17 in the second half. NC State went up 41-38 at the half, but opened the second half on a 10-3 spurt.

The Pack shot 58.2 percent for the game, including 64.0 percent in the first half, and only committed nine turnovers. NC State had all five starters in double figures, Javier Gonzalez (15), Farnold Degand (11), Scott Wood (10).

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.

Pack Taking Down Ranked Foes In a span of eight days, NC State took out a pair of ranked opponents and came close to winning a third such game. The Pack recently faced three straight ranked foes, its first games against a ranked opponent this season.

NC State started the stretch with a 88-81 win at No. 25 Florida State. The Pack returned home, and despite cutting a 18-point second half deficit down to one late in the game, fell 73-70 to No. 24 Clemson. The Pack turned right around, and claimed a 88-74 win over No. 7 Duke on Wednesday, tying as the second-highest ranked foe Coach Lowe has beated in his four seasons.

NC State's two wins over ranked opponents this season, in only three tries, already has been an improvement from last year's 1-6 mark against top-25 squads.

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.

Limiting Turnovers
NC State has taken care of the ball lately, as the Pack has committed 11 turnovers or less in four of the last five games (the only game above that mark was 18 turnovers in the win at No. 25 Florida State), and three games were under 10 turnovers.

Over the last two games, against No. 24 Clemson and No. 7 Duke, NC State has committed just 20 total turnovers. In the Pack's upset win over Duke, the three primary ball handlers; Farnold Degand, Javier Gonzalez, Julius Mays, combined for just 3 turnovers in 74 combined minutes of play while dishing out 14 assists.

Turnaround at the Free Throw Line
While free throws were a problem in helping cost the Pack a few wins earlier in the season, the trend has changed as of late. NC State has improved from the charity stripe, and has knocked down shots late in recent games to help preserve the lead.

In the win at No. 25 Florida State, the Pack was hot down the stretch, hitting 17 of the final 20 attempts. In the final five minutes of the win over No. 7 Duke, NC State hit 9 of the 11 attempts.

Over the last three games, the Pack has hit 79.1 percent (72-of-91) from the line, hitting no fewer than 19 in each game.

Gonzalez and Horner Break Out of SlumpsIn the Pack's win over No. 7 Duke, senior Dennis Horner and junior Javier Gonzalez once again found their scoring touch after each suffered through a mini-slump recently.

Horner came into the Duke contest scoring just 10 points in the previous two games, but went for 20 points against the Blue Devils. The 20 points were the second- most of his career in a game, and a new high against an ACC foe.

Gonzalez failed to reached double figures in the four games prior to Duke, but scored 15 points in the upset win. Perhaps the biggest shot of the win was Gonzalez's three-pointer as the shot clock expired to push the Pack's lead to 77-66 with 3:52 left.

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