NOTEBOOK: Pack, Heels Battle Tonight

NC State (13-7) returns to action tonight at home against rival North Carolina (12-7). Tip-off is at 9:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on Raycom.

Noting The Pack
NC State will be looking to get regular season wins over Duke and UNC in the same season for the first time since 2003. That season was also the last time NC State beat both of those teams at home in the same season.
• NC State beat two ranked teams over its last four games, downing No. 25 Florida State and No. 7 Duke.
• NC State has outscored or tied its opponents in the second half in 14 of the 20 games, including 11 of the last 14.
• NC State has hit 40.6 percent (88-217) of its three-pointers in the 13 wins, but just 27.4 percent (37-135) in its seven losses.
• Tracy Smith is sixth in the ACC in scoring (17.3), sixth in rebounding (8.6), and second in field goal percentage (.558).
• Freshman Richard Howell has averaged 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes over the last four games.
• Farnold Degand has averaged 10.0 points and 4.3 assists in 30.0 minutes since moving into the starting lineup the past four games.
• Freshman Scott Wood's 31 points and seven made three-pointers at Florida State were both the third-highest totals in a single game for a Wolfpack freshman.
• Wood is averaging 12.6 points over the last eight games, six times in double figures. He has gone 26-of-51 (.510) from three-point range in that time.
• Julius Mays has averaged 9.2 points over the last six games. He has gone 23-of-24 from the free throw line, and has made his last 18 attempts.
• 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 Hosts North Carolina
NC State returns to home action, when the Wolfpack plays host to rival North Carolina this Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m.

The Pack is coming off of an 88-64 loss at Maryland over the weekend, but won its last contest at the RBC Center, a 88-74 win over No. 7 Duke last Wednesday. North Carolina had the weekend off, and is coming off of a 82-69 home loss to Wake Forest last Wednesday.

The game will be broadcasted on Raycom with Tim Brando and Mike Gminiski.

The Series Versus North Carolina
Tuesday's meeting will mark the 216th between NC State and North Carolina in the series that dates back to the 1912-13 season. The Wolfpack has faced just Duke and Wake Forest more times than the Tar Heels.

UNC holds a 140-75 lead in the series and has won 16 of the last 21 meetings dating back to the 1999-00 season. UNC has won the last six meetings between the teams, and Coach Lowe is 1-6 in his three seasons against the Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels also hold the advantage in games played in Raleigh, 58-44. NC State is 3-7 against UNC in the RBC Center, last winning in 2007 over the No. 3 ranked Tar Heels, 83-79. The Pack also won home contests in 2002 and 2003, the first time NC State won back-to-back years at home since 1995 and 1996.

Last Season Versus North Carolina
North Carolina won both match-ups last season. No. 5 North Carolina led from start to finish, as the Tar Heels downed NC State 93-76 at the RBC Center on January 31. UNC went into the half up 43-31, and increased its lead to 54-36 before the first media timeout. But the Pack rallied, and cut the lead down to 69-62 with eight minutes left but could get no closer. Courtney Fells led the Pack as he scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, including four three-pointers. North Carolina took advantage with its frontline, as the Tar Heels outscored NC State 46-16 in points in tha paint, and shot 56.5 percent (35-62) from the field.

No. 3 North Carolina completed the season sweep of NC State, as the Tar Heels downed the Wolfpack 89-80 at Chapel Hill on February 18. UNC held a 39-36 lead at the half, and opened the second half on a 14-2 run, to capture a 53-38 run with 16:25 left. NC State battled back, and got within six points at the 10:48 mark thanks to a 19-10 run, but would get no closer. Javier Gonzalez finished with a team-high 18 points, with 16 coming in the first half, as he hit all four of his three-point attempts. Tracy Smith added 15 points, while Dennis Horner added 13 off the bench. NC State shot 54.1 percent (33-61) from the field, including 64.3 percent in the second half, but UNC hit 55.4 (36-65) for the game.

Last Time Out for NC State
Maryland scored the final four points of the first half and then the first five points of the second half, to take control of the game and came away with a 88-64 win over NC State in College Park Saturday night. Maryland would dominate the second half of play, outscoring the Pack 47-31, thanks to shooting 66.7 percent (16-24) from the floor compared to the Pack hitting just 27.8 percent (10-36). Maryland was the first opponent to shoot over 50.0 percent against the Pack this season, as the Terps were 29-of-54 (.537) from the floor.

Tracy Smith recorded a double-double leading NC State with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Javier Gonzalez hit three first-half three pointers and finished with 13 points.

Pack Taking Down Ranked Foes
NC State took out a pair of ranked opponents and came close to winning a third such game, all in a span of eight days a couple of weeks ago. The Pack faced three straight ranked foes, its first games against a ranked opponent this season. <>P NC State started the stretch with a 88-81 win at No. 25 Florida State on January 12. 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 on January 16. The Pack then turned right around, and claimed a 88-74 win over No. 7 Duke on January 20, tying as the second-highest ranked foe Coach Lowe has defeated 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 five of the last six 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 three games, against No. 24 Clemson, No. 7 Duke, and at Maryland, NC State has committed just 31 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. At Maryland this past weekend, NC State had 10 first half turnovers, but turned the ball over once in the second half.

Smith Leads Charge
It is no secret that a large portion of the NC State offense revolves around forward Tracy Smith. On most offensive possessions, the junior will get his hands on the ball in the low post. Smith been the Pack's high scorer in 13 of his 19 games played and the top rebounder in 15. For the season, Smith leads the Pack in both scoring (17.3) and rebounding (8.6). In the ACC rankings, he is six in both scoring and rebounding, and second in field goal percentage (.558).

He celebrated his 22nd birthday with a 23 point effort (career-best versus an ACC foe) in the upset of No. 7 Duke last Wednesday. He was 10-of-12 from the field for the game. He followed that game with a double-double at Maryland, leading the Pack with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Smith has recorded six double-doubles this season, and was named MVP of the Glenn Wilkes Classic in November leading NC State to a perfect 4-0 record in the event. He averaged 15.3 points and 11.0 rebounds in the four games.

It was Smith's put-back with just 1.3 seconds left that gave the Pack the 60-58 win over Auburn in the final game. Also in that game, Smith pulled down a career-best 15 boards, seven offensive, and also scored 11 points.

Gonzalez and Horner Break Out of Slumps
In 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. Gonzalez followed up that effort with 13 points, including three three-pointers at Maryland. But Horner was held to four points in that game.

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 has started all 20 games this season at small forward.

Wood has been in double figures in six of the last eight games, averaging 12.6 points in that span. He has 26-of-51 (.510) of his three-point attempts, hitting at least two in seven of the eight 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 buried four long range bombs against Florida.

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 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes of action the last four games. He also has pulled down seven rebounds in three of the last four 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 three this season, despite not starting. 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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