Previewing N.C. State

If the Tar Heels are going to make the NCAAs, tonight is a must-win game against N.C. State. Tipoff is 9 p.m. at the Smith Center on RJ. <br><center> (<a target=new href="">INTERNET BROADCAST</a>) - (<a href="'','GameTrackermbaskbl','toolbar=no,resizeable=no,scrollbars=no,width=780,height=540'); void('');">LIVE STATS</a>)</center>

North Carolina (14-12, 4-8) vs. N.C. State (14-9, 7-5)
Smith Center, Chapel Hill
9:00 p.m., RJ


You've got four games left - have you talked to the players about closing the ACC season strong?

I think one thing we've got to just focus on is one game. We can't look at four games - we've got to look at one game. We've got to beat State. We've got to play well and we've got to beat State. That's got to be our focus. We have to pour everything we have into that game and then we'll worry about the next game.

Could you talk about State and how they've struggled on the road?

I think most teams in this league have struggled on the road and that's just the way it is. With young players, there are going to be teams that do struggle on the road. They're a talented team - Hodge is such a talented player and Marcus Melvin. And then the way they run their offense you have to prepare different for them differently than you do other people. But I can't really speak for them playing on the road or playing at home.

Are they pretty much the same team you played in Raleigh?

I don't see a whole lot different. There are probably some new wrinkles that Herb put in there. There are subtle things in that offense that are pretty effective and that we need to be atune to and if we're not we're going to get exposed. If you make mistakes defensively against NC State you're going to get exposed.

Have you been able to judge the team's mood yet? Have they been able to put Maryland behind them?

I think they're disappointed, but I also think they want to do something about it. I don't think they're going to fold the tents - they're ready to move forward. And realize we have a great opportunity tomorrow night and do a better job - execution and taking care of the basketball, that will help our defense. This may sound crazy but our defense against Maryland when we were set was pretty good. Unfortunately a big part of Maryland's offense is transition and when they got going we weren't set and didn't do a good job there. I was pretty pleased with our halfcourt defense.

Last week you said you still felt in control of your destiny. Do you still feel that way?

I think so. We've got an opportunity Tuesday, and if we take advantage of it then we've got a couple more opportunities, so yes, I feel like we're still in control. It would help if other teams in the league would help us out, it's so complicated that you can only control what you can control - and that's us getting better today in practice.

N.C. State Scouting Report
by Brett Ayers

Offensive Schemes - State is still running the same Princeton offensive hybrid they have been, though in the last few games it seems that they have not been nearly as sharp with it. Now, in the Duke game, part of the reason for that was they let Duke get physical with them and did little to combat it and played right into Duke's defensive philosophy. State will run all kinds of hits to the wing and then dive the top two guards off the high post, X'ing them and starting the offense. State will also run the off guard back door if you play up on him, but did not send the wing backdoor when his man played up on him and here is where Duke got a lot of tap outs for steals and easy buckets. UNC has got to find Crawford, Sherrill and Hodge in transition or this will be a very long and frustrating game defensively. There can be no closing out with hands down or even straight out at your side. Guys have to come out to defend the three with hands up to challenge.

Defensive Schemes - State will come at UNC with mostly man-to-man, but they will also run a lot of the 2-2-1 press at the Heels. UNC needs to be very strong with the ball and they need to get a lot of offensive movement in both the half court and in transition. State is not very good on the defensive glass, still, and they are very susciptable to giving up offensive boards. Once you drive the State guys, one of the keys to remember is pump fakes. You pump fake State and the guys on the bench jump.

Players to Watch:

Julius Hodge - A very smooth, streaky shooter who shoots a modified set shot. Very right handed in all he does. Not very strong and someone who can be taken advantage of on the offensive end. Also, a guy who can be bumped off his game when he comes off of picks and dribble hand offs. Not nearly as good shooting off the dribble as he is off the set. Better block him out at all times.

Marcus Melvin - A very unorthodox lefty who will shoot the three, take the fifteen foot pull-up and in general just try to get shots off. Very left handed in most things he does. Not a real good post player at all, more of a guy who wants to shoot the perimeter jumper.

Josh Powell- As close to a low post player as the Pack has. Another guy who will happily shoot jumpers if you give them to him. He, like many on the N.C. State team, does not have a very good notion of shot selection.

Scooter Sherrill- Once he crosses half court, he is in range. You better not let him get off. He is really State's best long distance shooter. He shoots about 40% from the three point line. Has no qualms about pulling up from 25 feet with someone right on him.

Probable Starting Lineup:
   Clifford Crawford (6-3, G, Sr.) – 9.4 ppg, 4.2 apg
   Scooter Sherrill (6-3, G, Jr.) – 9.1 ppg, 39% 3pt
   Julius Hodge (6-6, G, So.) – 18.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.7 apg
   Marcus Melvin (6-8, F, Jr.) – 12.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg
   Josh Powell (6-9, F, So.) – 11.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Key Reserves: 
   Levi Watkins (6-7, F, So.) – 6.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg
   Jordan Collins  (6-10, C, So.) – 1.9 ppg, 0.9 rpg
   Cameron Bennerman  (6-4, G, Fr.) – 2.2 ppg

NC State Info

Photo Gallery

Marcus Melvin ... Julius Hodge

Scooter Sherrill ... Herb Sendek

(Photos courtesy the AP.)

Game Notes
by UNC Athletic Communications

The Tar Heels lead the series with NC State, 128-71. The Wolfpack have beaten Carolina three times in a row, but UNC had won seven in a row and 11 of 12 in the series prior to last season. The last time Carolina has lost four straight to NC State was when it lost eight in a row from 1972-75.

Carolina is 62-21 at home against NC State all-time at home, including a 12-4 edge in the Smith Center. Matt Doherty is 2-3 vs. NC State as UNC's head coach.

Earlier this season in Raleigh, Raymond Felton scored a season-high 28 points, including tying the school record with eight three-pointers, but was not enough as NC State downed the Tar Heels, 86-77, on Super Bowl Sunday. Julius Hodge had 30 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolfpack. Rashad McCants had his first career double-double with 20 points (17 in the second half) and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels. Jackie Manuel scored 14 points, hitting 9 of 10 free-throw attempts. 6-6 freshman David Noel made his second start of the season at center. Carolina lost the game despite out-rebounding NC State by a 38-27 margin. The Wolfpack hit 56.0 percent of their shots in the second half, including 6 of 10 three-pointers.

Freshmen Raymond Felton (318 points this season) and Rashad McCants (440) have combined for 758 points this season and are just the second pair Tar Heel freshmen ever to both top 300 points. Jerry Stackhouse (428) and Rasheed Wallace (333) did so in 1993-94, combining for 761 points. With a combined four points against NC State on Tuesday, Felton and McCants will become the top-scoring freshman duo in UNC history.

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