Wolfpack Heads to Maryland on Sunday
NC State (14-11, 4-7 ACC) at Maryland (16-10, 5-6 ACC)
NC State Travels to Maryland: NC State hits the road this weekend, traveling to Maryland for a nationally televised game on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. The Wolfpack (14-11, 4-7 ACC) has won two straight in ACC play, at Wake Forest last weekend and at home against Clemson on Thursday.
The Terrapins (16-10, 5-6 ACC) have dropped two straight, at Boston College and at Virginia Tech, but sit at 12-3 at home on the season.
This game will be televised on Fox Sports Net with Ron Thulin (play-by-play), Dan Bonner (analyist) and Debbie Antonelli (sideline).
The Series Versus Maryland: Sunday's meeting will mark the 147th in a series that dates back to the 1924-25 season. Maryland has a slight lead in the series, 74-72. NC State has won just five of the last 22 meetings, and eight of the last 40 dating back to the 1991-92 campaign. Prior to that streak, the Pack had won nine of the previous 12 matchups.
Maryland has won seven straight in the series and NC State will be looking to defeat the Terrapins for the first time under Sidney Lowe. Maryland won both regular season matchups last season. In 2009, Maryland won in Raleigh, 71-60, and again at the ACC Tournament in Atlanta, 74-69. In 2008, Maryland won in College Park by 14 points. The Terps won both contests in 2007 as well, winning by 15 in Raleigh then by 20 in College Park.
Prior to 2007, the Wolfpack was on a three-game winning streak against the Terrapins, winning the only contest in 2006 (62-58 in Raleigh) and sweeping Maryland during the 2004-05 regular season for the first time since 1988-89.
Maryland posts a 37-21 mark against the Pack in College Park, and 4-2 in games played at the Comcast Center. NC State lost its first trip to the Comcast Center in 2003, but then won two straight in 2004 and 2005. Maryland has won the last three (2007, 2008 and 2010).
Last Season Versus Maryland: Maryland won both regular season matchups last year.
In College Park on Jan. 23, 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. The Terps 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 on the 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.
At the RBC Center on Feb. 17, NC State played an almost flawless first half and built a 10-point halftime lead (37-27), but the Pack could not hold off Maryland's second-half surge and the Terps swept the season series with a 67-58 win at the RBC Center. NC State held a 46-36 lead with 14:50 left, but Maryland would go on a 9-0 run, and a 22-5 run overall to grab the lead. In the second half, Maryland outscored NC State 40-21, as the Teprs shot 56.0 percent (14-25) from the field, while the Pack shot just 23.3 percent (7-30). Dennis Horner recorded his second double-double of the season, as he led the Pack with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Tracy Smith added 10 points.
Last Time Out for NC State: A strong second half defensive effort and clutch free throwing shooting down the stretch helped NC State down visiting Clemson, 69-61, Thursday at the RBC Center. The Pack limited the Tigers to just 27 points in the second half, with the Tigers hitting only 30.3 percent from the field, including 0-of-8 from long range. The Wolfpack hit 11-of-14 free throws over the final 4:30 of the game. The NC State frontcourt of Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie and Tracy Smith combined for 41 points and 28 rebounds. Leslie recorded his first double-double in ACC play with game-highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Howell also pulled down 10 boards.
Pack Hoping for Another Late Run: NC State finished ACC play strong last season, and is hoping to at least duplicate that late season run.
Last season, the Pack started ACC play 2-10, but turned things around at the end of the campaign. NC State won three of its final four ACC regular season games, and then advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. In all, the Pack won five of its final seven games against ACC foes last season.
NC State started conference play 2-7 this season, but has won two straight heading into this weekend's game at Maryland. The Pack started its current winning streak with an 80-55 win at Wake Forest last weekend, and downed Clemson Thursday, 69-61.
Leslie Making Case for Rookie of the Year: C.J. Leslie's recent strong play has cemented his status as a candidate for ACC Rookie of the Year. Leslie is tied for the conference lead in winning ACC Rookie of the Week honors, having won three times thus far.
The local product from Holy Springs, N.C., leads the Pack in rebounding at 7.5 boards per game, and is second on the team in scoring at 11.4 points.
Leslie started the first four ACC games, averaging 14.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. Then he got sick and came off the bench in two straight games, averaging just 1.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in those contests.
But Leslie's recent play has been more like the beginning of the ACC season. Over the last four games that he has played, he has averaged 17.3 points (on 54.0 percent shooting) and 7.8 rebounds. He scored 14 points at UNC, and then had a team-high 18 points against Virginia Tech. After returning from a one-game suspension, Leslie tied his ACC-best with 19 points at Wake Forest. Last time out in the win over Clemson, Leslie recorded his first double-double in ACC play with team-highs of 18 points and 10 boards.
On the season, Leslie ranks fourth in the ACC among freshmen in scoring (11.4), is tied for first among all rookies in rebounding (7.5), and is second with four double-doubles. In conference games, Leslie ranks second in both scoring (12.9) and rebounding (6.7) among the league rookies.
Pack's Tough Schedule: NC State's seven conference losses this season have been to teams that have a combined 72.5 (58-22) winning percentage in conference play. Only Duke's opponents in its losses post a higher winning percentage.
In ACC Wins the Pack Opens Strong: In sharp contrast to it's ACC losses, the Pack has started strong in its four ACC wins. NC State has shot 42.3 percent from the floor in those games in the opening half and averaged 36.5 points.
What is even more impressive is the way NC State has played in the second half of each of its ACC wins. In the four games, NC State has combined to shoot 54.9 percent from the floor and averaged 41.3 points in the second half of play.
Finding Help on the Boards: Rebounding for NC State has gone in two very different directions this season. Before outrebounding both Wake Forest and Clemson the last two games, the Pack was outrebounded in six straight ACC contests.
The Pack won the rebound battle at Wake Forest 36-26, and then pulled down 46 compared to Clemson's 38. In the six previous games, the Pack had a -9.7 rebounding margin, pulling down 33.5 boards to the opponent's 43.2.