Previewing N.C. State

The Tar Heels take a three-game losing streak into the RBC Center on Tuesday night for a matchup against N.C. State. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 9 p.m. and will be televised regionally by Raycom.

North Carolina (12-7, 1-3) vs. NC State (13-7, 2-4)
Raleigh, N.C. -- RBC Center
9 p.m., Raycom (Tim Brando, Mike Gminski)


"This game has always been special. It was that way as a player, and it's all because of the history and tradition of the two schools. Obviously the proximity in terms of location. You've got NC State fans that work with Carolina fans, a Carolina fan might be your next door neighbor. It means a lot, not to mention to people who actually attended the universities. As a former player, it means a great deal. It's a great rivalry, I think it's one of the best rivalries in the country and it will always be that way. It was that way before I got here, and it will always be that way." – N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe

"We played terrible defense. We weren't working hard enough. We weren't rebounding. They just played harder than us. They outhustled us, got a lot of offensive rebounds and got to every loose ball." -- Wolfpack guard Javier Gonzalez following Saturday's 24-point loss to Maryland


Season to Date: N.C. State enters Tuesday's contest with a 13-7 (2-4 ACC) record. Despite agonizing nonconference losses to Arizona (76-74) and Florida (62-61), the Wolfpack scored a big win at Marquette (77-73) on Dec. 5. Sidney Lowe's fourth squad pulled a big upset last Wednesday over Duke (88-74), thanks to a 58.2 percent shooting display, and then failed to show up in the second half against Maryland on Saturday, falling 88-64.

Big Man Down Low: Junior forward Tracy Smith has emerged this season as N.C. State's primary scoring option, averaging 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per outing. The Detroit, Mich. native ranks sixth in the ACC in both scoring and rebounding, while standing second in field goal percentage (.558). The 6-foot-8, 247-pounder has posted six double-doubles on the season, in addition to delivering a 23-point effort in the upset over Duke on Jun. 20.

Struggling Defensively Yet Again: If there has been one consistent statistic during Sidney Lowe's tenure in Raleigh, it can be found in his squads' inability to make enough stops to scratch out winning records in league play. N.C. State allowed its opponents to shoot 46.2 percent in league play during the 2006-07 season before holding down the cellar spot in the ACC the following two seasons – 47.0 percent in '07-'08 and 46.9 percent in '08-'09. So far this season, the Wolfpack ranks 11th in conference play with a 45.2 field goal percentage defense mark, while also ranking 10th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (34.6).

From the Wood: Freshman wing Scott Wood is averaging 9.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, but has received praise for his long-range shooting ability (38.8 percent, 40-of-103). The 6-foot-7, 170-pounder earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors on Jan. 18 after setting career-highs with 31 points and seven rebounds in the victory at Florida State. Wood was 7-of-11 from 3-point territory, tying for the third-most 3-pointers made in a game in school history.

Board Concerns: The Wolfpack's plus-0.2 rebounding margin ranks dead last in the ACC, but their minus-1.3 mark in conference play sits in the No. 9 spot. Smith (8.6) is only team member pulling down more than five rebounds per outing.

Taking Care of the Ball: N.C. State's 13 turnovers per game ranks sixth in the league, and those numbers have improved in recent weeks. In the past three games against Clemson, Duke and Maryland, the Wolfpack has committed just 31 turnovers. Lowe's squad has only turned the ball over 15 times or more once in the past nine games, coughing up 18 turnovers in the road victory at Florida State on Jan. 12.

Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated N.C. State, 89-80, in Chapel Hill on Feb. 18, 2009. Tyler Hansbrough led all scorers with 27 points and Ty Lawson added 17 points and nine assists. Danny Green (19 points, three steals) and Wayne Ellington (16 points, six rebounds) also contributed double-digit scoring efforts for the boys in blue.

Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with N.C. State, 140-75. UNC has won six straight, 12 of the last 13, and 29 of the last 37 against the Wolfpack.

Projected Starters:
10 Javier Gonzalez (6-0, 175, Jr.) – 10.3 ppg, 4.4 apg
12 Farnold Degand (6-4, 170, Sr.) – 6.4 ppg, 2.9 apg
15 Scott Wood (6-7, 170, Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg
31 Dennis Horner (6-9, 226, Sr.) – 12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg
23 Tracy Smith (6-8, 247, Jr.) – 17.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg

Top Reserves:
24 Julius Mays (6-3, 187, So.) – 6.7 ppg, 2.1 apg
1 Richard Howell (6-8, 266, Fr.) – 5.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
21 C.J. Williams (6-6, 218, So.) – 4.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg

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