Dec. 17, 2013
The NC State men's basketball team takes a five-game win streak to SEC country when it takes on Tennessee Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. The game, the second road game of the season for NC State, will be broadcast on ESPNU.
In a series that dates back to 1928, NC State (7-2) leads the all-times series against Tennessee 5-3. The Wolfpack won the last two meetings, which took place in the early 1990s.
The Pack has won five straight games, including an 82-79 win over Detroit at Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday night. NC State led by 18 with 7:52 remaining before holding off the hard-charging Titans. T.J. Warren, the ACC's leading scorer, poured in 29 points and Ralston Turner added a season-high 21. The Wolfpack hit 10 shots from beyond the arc in the game, the team's best shooting night since 2011.
Tennessee (6-3) is coming off a loss at 12th-ranked Wichita State. The Vols, who have wins over Xavier and Wake Forest this season, are led by Jordan McRae (19.6 points per game).
Following Wednesday's contest at Tennessee, NC State will return home to face an East Carolina squad currently boasting a 9-2 record. The ECU game is Saturday, Dec. 21 at noon at PNC Arena.
The Starting 5 - The top 5 storylines for this game
1. `GOTT' BACK TO SEC COUNTRY
Mark Gottfried is certainly familiar with Knoxville and the Tennessee Volunteers, having fashioned a 15-6 combined record against Tennessee as both a player and head coach at Alabama. He was 9-5 against UT as coach of the Crimson Tide after winning six of seven vs. Tennessee as an Alabama player (1984-87). Gottfried captured two important wins over Tennessee when UT was highly-ranked. His Bama squad beat No. 7 Tennessee 80-75 on Feb. 26, 2000. When Bruce Pearl had Tennessee ranked 8th, Gottfried defeated the Vols 92-79 in Tuscaloosa. Gottfried had a 6-0 record vs. Tennessee when UT was coached by Buzz Peterson.
2. PACK WON ITS FIRST CLOSE CALL
None of NC State's first eight games were decided by a margin of fewer than 10 points. All six of the Pack's wins and both of its losses had come in double digits, even its lone overtime defeat. The young Wolfpack team on Saturday showed it could win a close game, holding off Detroit 82-79 at Reynolds Coliseum.
T.J. Warren, who is leading the ACC with 23.3 points per game, continues to show he is one of the more efficient scorers in all of college basketball. Warren is currently fourth in the conference with a .549 field goal percentage. He shot .622 from the floor last season, the second-highest single-season shooting percentage in NC State history (.624, Kevin Thompson, 1991-92). The 6-8 sophomore is the only player in the ACC with multiple 30-point performances, hitting the mark against Florida Gulf Coast and Eastern Kentucky.
4. LENNARD DOING BOARD WORK
Lennard Freeman, a 6-8 freshman forward who just turned 18 years old on Dec. 10, provides rebounding and inside toughness for the Wolfpack. Freeman posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds vs. Northwestern on Dec. 4. He followed that by grabbing a career-high 13 boards in NC State's win over Long Beach State and then pulled in a team-high nine boards vs. Detroit. Freeman, who is shooting .708 from the floor this season, leads the team in rebounds per game (7.1) and defensive rebounds (44).
5. BREAKING OUT FROM BEHIND THE ARC
Led by Ralston Turner, NC State had its best long-range shooting performance of the year on Saturday night. The Wolfpack knocked down a season-best 10 of its 21 attempts from 3-point range. Turner led the barrage, shooting 6-for-8 from beyond the arc for a season-high 21 points. It was the first time NC State made 10 treys since it made 11 in an 88-59 win over Northeastern during Mark Gottfried's first season at NCSU (12/22/11).