Previewing N.C. State

No. 15 North Carolina looks to win for the 12th time in a row at home against rival N.C. State on Tuesday night. The game tips at the Smith Center at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised by the ACC Network.

North Carolina (19-8, 9-5 ACC) vs. N.C. State (16-11, 7-7 ACC)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Smith Center
Tuesday, 8 p.m.
ACCN (Tim Brant, Dan Bonner)

"North Carolina is I'm sure heavily favored and most people would think we have very little chance, but our guys are excited about the chance to go play in Chapel Hill." -- N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried

"You have to account for all three of those guys. They do it different ways. Cat [Barber] is a penetrator who has gotten better as a shooter, but he is a pull-up shooter. Trevor [Lacey] is a 3-point shooter who can take it to the basket and gets involved in the break. Ralston Turner is a 3-point shooter who is sometimes a 4-point shooter the way we fouled him over at State. They fit together. Those three really do fit and compliment each other." -- UNC head coach Roy Williams

Season to Date: N.C. State enters Tuesday's contest with a 16-11 (7-7 ACC) record. The Wolfpack are currently part of a five-team group in the middle of the conference that is looking for a strong regular-season finish to get on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. N.C. State has had an up-and-down road in conference play, losing six of 10 since its last meeting with UNC, but it has won its last two games, including a strong nine-point road win at No. 9 Louisville.

Backcourt Pacing the Pack: This is a team that, from an offensive standpoint, has relied heavily on the scoring efforts of its trio of starting guards. Junior Trevor Lacey, sophomore Cat Barber and senior Ralston Turner have accounted for nearly 60 percent of this team’s offensive point production. All three players are also shooting over 40 percent from the field and 35 percent or better from 3-point range.

Blocks All Around: With Kyle Washington, Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya in the frontcourt, the Wolfpack is one of the best shot blocking teams in the league. State currently averages 5.4 blocks as a team, which is the second-highest total in the ACC. Anya in particular has been outstanding on the defensive end and leads the ACC in blocks per game (2.59).

The Emergence of Cat Barber: The first time the Tar Heels and Wolfpack got together, Barbour had a relatively quiet game (5 points and four assists). Lately however, the sophomore guard has elevated his level of play. Barber has averaged 18.6 points over his last five games and has added another offensive threat to a team that is the ACC’s fourth-highest scoring offense (71.5 points per game). Barber’s quickness has forced teams to defend his penetration ability, which has provided enough space on the perimeter to knock down long-range shots.

Role Reduction: Washington played a key role in the first meeting betweens these teams by scoring 17 points, but he has recently been replaced with sophomore forward Lennard Freeman in the starting lineup as Gottfried is looking for more defense and rebounding from the forward spot. Washington played just seven minutes in N.C. State's win over Louisville last week and did not play at all against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Last Meeting: UNC held off N.C. State, 81-79, at PNC Arena in Raleigh on Jan. 14, 2015. Marcus Paige led all scorers with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting (5-of-5 from 3) and Kennedy Meeks added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Wolfpack, 151-76. UNC has won 17 of the last 18 and 11 in a row at the Smith Center.

Projected Starters:
1 Trevor Lacey (6-3, 208, Jr.) - 16.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg
12 Cat Barber (6-2, 180, So.) - 11.7 ppg, 3.7 apg
22 Ralston Turner (6-5, 205, Sr.) - 12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg
0 Abdul-Malik Abu (6-8, 240, Fr.) - 5.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg
10 Lennard Freeman (6-8, 250, So.) - 3.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Top Reserves:
14 Caleb Martin (6-6, 200, Fr.) - 5.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
32 Kyle Washington (6-9, 225, So.) - 7.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg
21 BeeJay Anya (6-9, 295, So.) - 4.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg

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(Photo by USA Today Sports)

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