North Carolina (13-5, 3-2) vs. NC State (15-4, 4-2)
Raleigh, N.C. -- PNC Arena
Saturday, 7 p.m.
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Shannon Spake)
"I thought the difference in the game was our inability to guard anybody in the second half. We just didn’t guard.” – N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried following his team’s loss at Wake Forest on Tuesday
"There's been a lot of nonsense going on between us but we're all grown men. We sat down and talked it out. We're perfectly fine now." – N. C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown following Thursday’s players-only meeting
Season to Date: No. 18 N.C. State enters Saturday’s contest with a 15-4 (4-2 ACC) record. The Wolfpack, preseason favorites to win the ACC, suffered two early-season defeats to Oklahoma State and Michigan before reeling off 10 straight wins, including an 84-76 victory over top-ranked Duke on Jan. 12. Second-year head coach Mark Gottfried’s squad has struggled since then, however, dropping two of its last three to Maryland and Wake Forest.
ACC Preseason POY: Junior forward C.J. Leslie earned lofty preseason accolades due to his strong play to close the 2011-12 season, and for the most part, he’s maintained that same level during his third season in Raleigh. The Holly Springs, N.C. native is averaging a team-high 15.3 points on 55.8 percent shooting and is pulling down 6.8 rebounds per game. Leslie has been more effective defensively for stretches – as evidenced by his 20 blocks and 17 steals – but turnovers continue to plague him (2.6 per game).
Offensive Firepower: The Wolfpack lead the ACC in scoring (79.2 ppg) and represent the only conference team shooting over 50 percent on the season (51.0). N.C. State also ranks third in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (39.3) and fourth in assist-turnover ratio (1.2:1). Five Wolfpack players average between 11.7 and 15.3 points per game, while Rodney Purvis is adding 9.9 points per game of his own. Kenpom.com ranks N.C. State as the seventh-best team in country in adjusted offensive efficiency (117.3).
Short Bench: Offseason attrition has forced Gottfried to play a short hand with his rotation, but his top-six have soaked up even more minutes during ACC play. Leslie, point guard Lorenzo Brown, forward Richard Howell, forward T.J. Warren, guard Scott Wood and Purvis are all averaging 31 minutes or more against league competition, while forward Jordan Vandenberg (6.5 mpg) and guard Tyler Lewis (4.0 mpg) are the only other Wolfpack players averaging more than one minute per contest. Brown and Howell are two of seven players in the ACC averaging 36 minutes or more during conference play.
Turnover Disparity: Gottfried’s squad is one of five ACC teams with a negative turnover margin in conference, ranking 10th with a minus-1.0 mark. The Wolfpack has been effective in taking care of the ball in its six ACC games, committing just 10.7 per game, but sluggish defensive stretches have prevented the boys in red from forcing many (9.7; 11th ACC).
Success at Home: While N.C. State has struggled away from PNC Arena (4-4), its won all 11 games at home.
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated N.C. State, 69-67, in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Mar. 10, 2012, in Atlanta. Kendall Marshall’s bank shot in the lane with 10.2 seconds to play broke a tie and propelled the Tar Heels into the ACC Tournament finals despite John Henson being sidelined due to a wrist injury. Tyler Zeller led UNC with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Marshall added 12 points and 10 assists.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with N.C. State, 147-75. UNC is 10-3 at PNC Arena and has won 36 of its last 44 games against the Wolfpack.
2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr.) - 12.8 ppg, 6.9 apg
0 Rodney Purvis (6-3, 195, Fr.) - 9.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg
15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr.) - 11.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr.) - 15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg
1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg
24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 233, Fr.) - 12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Roster & Bios
(Photos by USA Today Sports Images)