North Carolina (20-6, 10-2) vs. NC State (14-12, 4-8)
Raleigh, N.C. -- RBC Center
9:00 -- Raycom (Steve Martin, Mike Gminski)
"I think just his ability to impact the game from both ends. [John Henson] can impact it from the defensive end as well as anyone in the country, I think, with his shot blocking ability, his intimidation down there. Then he can affect it by running the floor offensively because he gets down the floor. With both of those, it can cause you some problems especially from an offensive standpoint. If you're trying to establish something and he's there altering shots and things of that nature, he makes you play the right way. If you want to beat them, you have to be smart and you have to play the right way. That means that you've got to be able to attack him, and you can't shoot over him. He's going to get it, or you've got to use that against him some way. But he can just impact the game on both ends of the floor." – NCSU head coach Sidney Lowe on the problems that the UNC forward presents
"We know we're going to get their best shot. They are in a much better place confidence-wise. We've got to do a good job on [Scott] Wood on the perimeter, we've got to do a good job with Tracy [Smith] and C.J. [Leslie] inside, and you've got to be able to score the ball yourself." – UNC head coach Roy Williams
Since the Last Meeting... N.C. State enters Wednesday night's contest with a 14-12 (4-8 ACC) record. The Wolfpack has lost three of their five games since falling to North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Jan. 29, dropping games against Virginia Tech (77-69), Duke (76-52) and Maryland (87-80) while beating Wake Forest (80-55) and Clemson (69-61).
Smith Rolling: Senior forward Tracy Smith has rebounded from a tough four-game stretch in which the 2009-10 first-team All-ACC performer averaged 10 points a game, nearly five points below his season average (14.6 ppg). The Detroit, Mich. product is averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds over his last three outings.
Harrow In, Howell Out: Starting point guard Ryan Harrow missed the last meeting with UNC due to a flu-like illness, but returned to action against Duke on Feb. 5. The Marietta, Ga. freshman has struggled since then, however, averaging 4.0 points during his last four outings with 14 assists and 11 turnovers. Reserve forward Richard Howell scored two points and grabbed seven rebounds against the Tar Heels, but suffered a concussion on Sunday when a teammate inadvertently delivered an elbow to his head in the loss at Maryland. Lowe told reporters on Tuesday that he hoped Howell would be back in action against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Leslie Playing Up to His Reputation: C.J. Leslie arrived at N.C. State as an elite prospect that needed to match his effort level with his talent level. The Holly Springs, N.C. has finally displayed what can happen when that fusion occurs, as evidenced by his averages of 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over his last five contests. Sandwiched in between those five games was a one-game suspension due to violating team rules. In league play, Leslie ranks second in both scoring (13.4) and rebounding (6.8) among ACC freshmen.
Musical Chairs: You can't fault Lowe for trying to find a combination that works in Raleigh. The Wolfpack has fielded eight different starting lineups this season, but only three of those have lasted for three or more games. Lowe is expected to start his current starting lineup – Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, Harrow, Leslie and Smith – for the fourth straight game on Wednesday. Wood is the lone Wolfpack player to start all 26 games this season.
Moving On Up: Lowe's squads have typically anchored the ACC in field goal percentage defense in league play, and held the cellar spot the last time these two programs met three weeks ago with a 47.1 mark. Give credit where credit is due – N.C. State has picked up their defensive play over its last five games as four of those opponents have shot less than 42.0 percent from the floor. The Wolfpack currently ranks ninth in the ACC with a 45.5 field goal percentage defense mark in league play.
Random Fact of the Day, Part I: In its four conference wins, N.C. State is averaging 41.3 second-half points on 54.9 percent (67-122) shooting.
Random Fact of the Day, Part II: The Wolfpack is 0-10 on the season when trailing with 10 minutes to play in regulation.
Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated N.C. State, 84-64, on Jan. 29 in Chapel Hill. Harrison Barnes led all scorers with a then-career high 25 points and John Henson was a force in the post with 16 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocked shots. UNC shot 47.1 percent for the game while holding the Wolfpack to 36.4 percent overall.
Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with N.C. State, 143-75. UNC has won nine straight and 15 of the last 16 against the Wolfpack. North Carolina has also won 11 of its last 14 games against N.C. State in Raleigh.
12 Ryan Harrow (6-1, 160, Fr.) - 9.8 ppg, 3.5 apg
2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Fr.) - 9.3 ppg, 3.7 apg
15 Scott Wood (6-6, 177, So.) - 9.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
5 C.J. Leslie (6-8, 206, Fr.) - 11.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg
23 Tracy Smith (6-8, 255, Sr.) - 14.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg
10 Javier Gonzalez (6-0, 176, Sr.) - 5.1 ppg, 2.3 apg
21 C.J. Williams (6-5, 218, Jr.) - 4.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg
0 DeShawn Painter (6-9, 227, So.) - 4.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Roster & Bios