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Previewing N.C. State

No. 7 North Carolina travels to Raleigh on Wednesday with intent to sweep the regular season series against N.C. State for the 10th time in 13 years under Roy Williams. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised by ACCN.

North Carolina (22-5, 11-3 ACC) vs. N.C. State (14-13, 4-10 ACC)
Raleigh, N.C. – PNC Arena
Wednesday, 8 p.m.
ACCN (Dan Bonner, Tim Brando)

Quotables

“When you are playing a lot of young, inexperienced guys you hope as the season progresses that they are learning how to play through difficult situations. Our team has great character. I like our guys a lot. We have recruited some guys that are really tough-minded, good-hearted guys. I think that helps you a lot.” – NCSU head coach Mark Gottfried

“Good players are allowed to struggle here and there. I’m sure he’ll be anxious to play on Wednesday.” – Gottfried on junior guard Cat Barber, who scored eight points on 1-of-12 shooting against Clemson on Saturday

PREGAME NOTES

Since the Last Meeting: N.C. State enters Saturday’s contest with a 14-13 (4-10 ACC) record. The Wolfpack has lost five of its nine games since losing at UNC on Jan. 16. Gottfried’s squad secured its first win of the ACC three days after the trip to Chapel Hill with a solid 78-61 win at Pittsburgh and followed it up with a 16-point win over No. 12 Miami 11 days later. N.C. State lost by 20 at No. 3 Virginia last week before upsetting Clemson on Saturday.

Point Attack: Before UNC and N.C. State’s last meeting, Cat Barber led the ACC in scoring with 22.5 points per game. The junior point guard has only improved upon that number since then, now scoring at a clip of 23.1 points per game. Barber relies on his elite quickness and ability to get to the basket to carry his team, something North Carolina took away in the last matchup. The Tar Heels held him to his first of just two single-digit outings on the season with nine points on 4-11 shooting after a group defensive effort. Since then, Barber has cut up opposing defenses, averaging nearly 26 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting in nine games despite scoring eight points on 1-of-12 shooting against Clemson on Saturday. In that stretch, Barber has shot 90.4 percent (75-of-83) from the free throw line.

Packing The Paint: One consistent positive during an inconsistent Wolfpack season has been N.C. State’s ability to control the boards on both ends of the floor. N.C. State sits atop the conference in offensive rebounding with 13.7 boards per game, and the team is ranked second in total rebounding in the ACC behind North Carolina with 40.3 rebounds per game. A large part of their success on the glass comes from a frontcourt rotation of sophomore forwards Abdul-Malik Abu (8.7 rebounds per game) and Lennard Freeman (5.8), as well as junior forward Beejay Anya (5.1). The Wolfpack ranks sixth in ACC play with a plus-1.1 rebounding margin, while ranking 19th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.

Martin Hot at PNC: Sophomore guard Caleb Martin has found his groove in N.C. State’s last three home games, knocking down 12 of his last 20 3-point attempts. The Wolfpack is 6-0 this season in games in which Martin has made more than 50 percent of his outside attempts.  

Better Than Advertised: Despite N.C. State’s record this season, advanced metrics suggest its better than that record indicates. KenPom.com ranks N.C. State 65th in the country, fueled by an offense that ranks 33rd in adjusted efficiency (112.6 points per 100 possessions). The Wolfpack defense hasn’t been quite as stellar, ranking 144thin efficiency (102.1 points per 100 possessions), due in part to an inability to create turnovers.

Halfcourt Pack: Mark Gottfried’s team is incredibly disciplined as far as controlling the tempo of the game. The Wolfpack is ranked 221st in adjusted tempo by KenPom.com, and the team has successfully controlled the pace of the game in its last two meetings with Roy Williams’s transition-minded Tar Heels, holding them to 56.5 points per contest. N.C. State is 7-2 this season when holding its opponent under 70 points.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Wolfpack, 67-55, at the Smith Center on Jan. 16, 2016. Kennedy Meeks led UNC with 23 points while Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson combined for 15 points on 6-of-24 shooting. The Tar Heels held Barber to a season-low nine points on 4-of-11 shooting and forced the junior point guard into five turnovers.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 152-77. The Tar Heels have won 18 of the last 20 meetings. Roy Williams is 29-3 all-time against N.C. State, including a 24-3 mark as UNC’s head coach.

Projected Starters:
12 Anthony “Cat” Barber (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 23.1 ppg, 4.5 apg
24 Maverick Rowan (6-7, 215, Fr.) - 13.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg
0 Abdul-Malik Abu (6-8, 240, So.) - 12.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg
14 Caleb Martin (6-7, 215, So.) - 11.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
1 Lennard Freeman (6-9, 250, Jr.) – 3.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
21 BeeJay Anya (6-9, 285, Jr.) - 4.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg
15 Cody Martin (6-7, 210, So.) – 6.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg

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