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Scouting N.C. State

However you felt about North Carolina State's prospects at the beginning of the week, those thoughts likely were altered by the Wolfpack's performance Wednesday night in a 14-point win over No. 7 Duke. The victory stands as the seminal moment of fourth-year Coach Sidney Lowe's tenure at his alma mater, and more problematically, it leaves an unclear picture as to what to expect from N.C. State heading forward.

On Saturday, the Wolfpack (13-6, 2-3) will head to Comcast Center to take on Maryland. In the past three seasons, N.C. State has won three regular season ACC road games. The challenge for Lowe & Co. will be finding a way to emulate their Wednesday showing, which came at home.

Led by junior forward Tracy Smith (6 feet 8, 247 pounds), a trio of capable -- if inconsistent -- ballhandlers and several talented freshmen, the Wolfpack has some pretty decent parts. Whether or not those parts can continue to operate as a cohesive unit likely will decide if N.C. State is in store for more nights like Wednesday, or if it will proceed to underacheive as it has done often in recent seasons.

Smith came on strong near the end of last season and has developed into a force for the Wolfpack this season. He is averaging 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 55.3 percent. He also has tallied 21 blocks.

On Wednesday, Duke refused to provide help defense to whoever was covering Smith at any given time, and Smith responded by shooting 10 for 12 from the field and totaling 23 points. A more traditional back-to-the-basket post player, Smith has become N.C. State's primary offensive option.

Joining Smith in the post is senior forward Dennis Horner (6-foot-9, 226 lbs.). Horner is averaging 12.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He owns a team-high 22 blocks and is shooting 51.4 percent from the field.

N.C. State has several players responsible for feeding the ball into Smith and Horner. Junior guard Javier Gonzalez (6-foot-0, 175 lbs.) and redshirt senior guard Farnold Degand (6-foot-4, 170 lbs.) start in the backcourt for the Wolfpack, while sophomore guard Julius Mays (6-foot-3, 187 lbs.) provides relief off the bench.

Gonzalez is the primary ball-handler. He owns a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio and is averaging 10.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Gonzalez is shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three-point range.

Degand is averaging 6.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Mays is shooting 36.5 percent from the field and averaging 6.7 points per game.

Freshman swingman Scott Wood (6-foot-7, 170 lbs.) has etched a spot in the starting lineup. He is averaging 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from three-point range. Wood might already be N.C. State's purest shooter.

Against Duke, N.C. State relied heavily on its starting five (four played at least 31 minutes), but it's unlikely the Wolfpack would be able to make a habit out of such a practice. Lowe's sixth man of late has been freshman forward Richard Howell (6-foot-8, 266 lbs.). Howell is averaging 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field.

In fact, N.C. State offers mostly frontcourt support off its bench. Also likely to see time Saturday are sophomore forward C.J. Williams (6-foot-6, 218 lbs.), freshman forward Josh Davis (6-foot-7, 205 lbs.) and freshman center Jordan Vandenberg (7-foot-1, 238 lbs.). Of that trio, Williams has had the most impact, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Davis is averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, while Vandenberg chips in 1.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

As a team, N.C. State is shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 35.8 percent from three-point range and 68.1 percent from the free throw line. Among ACC teams, N.C. State is the only team with a worse rebounding margin (+0.3) than Maryland (+1.8).

The Wolfpack does not turn the ball over too profusely, but they don't force a horde of turnovers (-0.1 turnover margin), either.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 22, 2010; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Hoping for a win - ok, regardless of the Duke result, expecting a win and would be severely disappointed otherwise. Hoping for the Terps to dominate the rebounding battle. Looks like they have a lot of size. Look for GV and company to drive to the hole to get their big guys in foul trouble. Indeed, to NC State, MD may be a trap game after the big win vs. Duke. Then again, without the Duke win, this may have been a trap game for MD.

Go Terps!


Posted by: HughGRection | January 22, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Terps eyes no doubt were opened wider watching NC State take it to Duke Wednesday night.
Terps thus will win this matchup at home.

Terps 82-69

Posted by: RedskinRay1 | January 22, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The focus here needs to be on defense and defensive rebounding. Unlike Duke, we need to help out on Smith and we need to box out.

We should run and score in transition all we can. With their good frontcourt and shot blocking, I like GV looking tp penetrate and get the ball back out, similar to the approach against FSU.

I am not concerned about the team not being ready to play. A little worried about adjusting to better play after the Longwood game.

But, there is NO way we should lose this game.

Posted by: petecard | January 22, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Unlike the Terps' first two ACC contests, they matchup very evenly with NC Statent. The Terps definitely have the edge in the backcourt (probably have that against any team in the ACC not named Duke or UVA), and the frontcourt strength of the 'Pack should be neutralized if Gary can get a good 3-man rotation at the 4/5 spot between Dino, Jordan, and James. Landon could be in store for a BIG game as he will likely get matched up with freshman Wood and the slow-footed Horner. If the Terps can get solid production from the bench and average games out of the starters, the Terps should run the 'Pack out of the building.

I actually like to see the Terps play teams that just pulled off an upset because they tend to be more focussed, and the opponents always seem to be a step slower after they've upset a top team. The Terps also have an extra day of rest and the luxury of not have to play a greulling game in over a week.

83-68 Terps

Posted by: Russtinator | January 22, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Great scouting Russtinator. Totally agree about not wanting to play teams coming off a loss vs coming off a big win. Big upset win often means let down the following game for mediocre teams.

3-1 in the ACC sounds a helluva lot better than 2-2.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 22, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

We need to hold serve at home with some tough games coming up..

Posted by: restonhoops | January 22, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, with the week off between ACC games and this being a home game it is pretty much a must-win situation. Confident the Terps will take care of business.

Posted by: jake177 | January 22, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

pfterps, I don't think anyone knocked anyone for doing drugs on here. I think what people mocked was the fact that someone actually bragged about it on a posting board. That's about a lame as it gets.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 22, 2010 1:47 PM

Wrong again Barney, if anything I was bragging about getting the chance to chat it up with Terrence Morris at the South Campus Dining Hall, not about drug use.

But you keep up your Fox News-ways. Repeat opinion over and over and over and eventually people will think it's the truth.

Hey, isn't Glen Beck on now?

As for Terps/NC State, I agree that this is a home game that we must/should win if we want to up our chances for an NCAA bid.

However I disagree this could be a "let down" game for State. If you knock off Duke, that's gotta pretty much up your confidence that you can play (and beat) anybody in the ACC. Terps better focus and play hard or else they could come out on the short end of the stick in this game.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 22, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Haaa looks like the pscyho is back to stalking barno1 again. One too many bad trips i guess. Let this be a lesson to you kids: do too many drugs and you might turn out like Poopy (bet that would scare the hell out of most kids)

Posted by: Freddy301 | January 22, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

What a joke, Freddy, someone stalking a stalker. Barno may be the most aggressive attack dog on this site. He wants to set all the rules, the first being..."Thou shallt love Gary, the Lord thy God..."

Poopy brings some life to this blog and he is funny.

We are all Maryland fans but some of us want a little more than we have been getting. We can argue about that, but let free speech reign!

Posted by: petecard | January 22, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

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