Dec. 6, 2013
After a 69-48 win over Northwestern on Wednesday, the NC State men's basketball team aims to continue its winning ways Saturday afternoon when it hosts Long Beach State. The game is slated to begin at 2 p.m. CLICK HERE to find a list of Regional Sports Network affiliates carrying Saturday's game.
The Wolfpack (5-2) has won three straight games, including its 69-48 win over Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. T.J. Warren, the ACC's leading scorer, led NCSU with 22 points. Head coach Mark Gottfried told the team it was among the best defensive performances by the Pack since he came to Raleigh in 2011. NC State held Northwestern to 25 percent shooting. Improved defensive play has been a recent trend, as State has held its last three opponents to just 55.3 points and .327 shooting.
Long Beach State (1-8), a perennial contender in the Big West Conference, has played one of the nation's toughest schedules. The 49ers have already faced Arizona, Kansas State, Michigan, VCU, Washington, USC and Creighton. Long Beach State is led by guard Mike Caffey, who averages 16.0 point per game.
With classes over at NC State University, the Pack will take its final exam week after the Long Beach State contest. The Wolfpack will return to the court Saturday, Dec. 14 when it hosts Detroit at Reynolds Coliseum.
1. WINNING HANDILY
Each of NC State's five wins this season have come by at least 15 points. It's the first time since the 1998-99 season State has had its first five wins of a season each come by 15+ points. In that 1998-99 campaign, the Pack saw its first eight wins each come by 15 points or more. That team finished the season with a 19-14 record.
T.J. Warren, who is averaging 22.6 points per game, enters the weekend ranked first in the ACC in scoring. He scored 30 points against both Florida Gulf Coast and Eastern Kentucky, becoming the first NC State player to post consecutive 30-point performances since Rodney Monroe (vs. Virginia and at Tennessee in February 1991). He then followed those performances with 22 points and eight rebounds against Northwestern. His 82 points over the last three games is the most during a three-game span since Tom Gugliotta scored 83 during the first three contests of the 1991-92 season. Warren's career high is 31, which he set last season against Florida State.
3. NEW PACK 5
Since adding a healthy Jordan Vandenberg and moving Cat Barber into the lineup, NC State is 3-0 with an average victory margin of 20.0 points. The group built big early leads in wins over Florida Gulf Coast (82-62) and Northwestern (69-48). It took until the second half before NCSU pulled away for a win over Eastern Kentucky last Saturday, but a second-half scoring burst by T.J. Warren and a career-high 14 points from Vandenberg allowed NC State to pull away for the win.
4. AUSSIE RETURNS
Fifth-year senior Jordan Vandenberg sustained a Grade 3 high ankle sprain during the team's exhibition vs. UNC Pembroke on Oct. 30, but has rebounded to play the best basketball of his career. The 7-1 Australia native is averaging 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. Head coach Mark Gottfried has said Vandenberg's return has provided much-needed interior depth and experience while taking pressure off freshmen post players Lennard Freeman and Kyle Washington.
5. NC STATE FOR 2
No team in America scores a higher percentage of its points on made 2-point field goals than NC State. The Wolfpack ranks first in the nation with 68.2 percent 2-point scoring distribution. Further, NC State is 22nd in the nation with a .562 shooting percentage on its attempts from inside the arc.