Previewing NC State
Costner (Jason Cole/PP)
Costner (Jason Cole/PP)
Inside Carolina
Posted Feb 2, 2007


The Tar Heels get their two big road rivalry games back-to-back, starting with Saturday at NC State. Tip-off at the RBC Center is set for 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by ABC.

North Carolina (20-2, 6-1) vs. NC State (12-8, 2-5)
Raleigh, N.C. - RBC Center
3:30 p.m., TV - ABC

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: NC State was picked to finish in the bottom of the ACC, so you'll find few fans that are disappointed with the 12-8 (2-5) record heading into Saturday's game. The Pack have won the games it was supposed to win and lost the games they were supposed to lose ... until Wednesday. This past week the Wolfpack did something that the Tar Heels were unable to accomplish -- win at Virginia Tech. Sidney Lowe's team shot 53-percent from the field and used effective, varying defenses to hold the Top 25-ranked Hokies to a season-low 35 percent.

Depth: The biggest weakness of this team is its glaring lack of depth. The return of senior point guard Engin Atsur has helped a great deal, but Lowe's still playing his five starters well over 30 minutes per game with minimal contributions from the few reserves off the bench. Against Virginia Tech, Ben McCauley played 40 minutes (because NCSU has no reserve post players), Gavin Grant, Brandon Costner and Engin Atsur played 35 minutes and Courtney Fells was in for 33 minutes. The only other player to see significant minutes was walk-on Bryan Nieman.

Five Strong: While they don't get much help off the bench, NC State does have a solid lineup that can be competitive with any team in the conference. Costner is having an All-ACC freshman campaign at the four spot and Ben McCauley is far exceeding expectations in the middle. The Wolfpack aren't yet getting reliable ball handling or consistent outside shooting from its backcourt, but Atsur, Fells and Grant are all averaging double-digits in points.

ACC Struggles: Except for the stunning win at Virginia Tech, NC State has struggled on the offensive end within the conference this season. Through seven conference games, the Wolfpack is averaging 66.7 points per game, 33.6-percent three-point shooting, and with 14.6 turnovers per game. Their in-conference rebounding margin is also -5.7. NC State is ranked last in the conference in three important statistical categories -- three-point percentage, rebounding margin and turnover margin.

New Era: Wolfpack fans grew impatient with Herb Sendek, whose teams were usually good (five straight NCAA Tournament appearances), but never great. Enter Sidney Lowe. The former Wolfpack standout has begun to re-energize the program with his fresh approach and although expectations are low this season, hopes are high that he can eventually take NC State a step or two farther than Sendek could. He's had some early success on the recruiting trail, but just as important, his offensive game plan is a stark contrast from his predecessor.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series again NC State by a 134-74 margin. Since Roy Williams took the reins in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels have won six in a row over the Wolfpack. In the two meetings last year, UNC won 82-69 on Jan. 7 in Chapel Hill thanks in part to a career-high 17 points from Bobby Frasor and then UNC won in a 95-71 rout in Raleigh on Feb 22., getting 25 points and 11 rebounds from David Noel.

14 Engin Atsur (6-4, 200, Sr.) – 11.5 ppg, 4.5 apg
 4 Courtney Fells (6-5, 194, So.) – 11.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg
11 Gavin Grant (6-7, 212, Jr.) - 15.2 ppg, 4.4 apg
33 Brandon Costner (6-8, 230, Fr.) – 16.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg
34 Ben McCauley (6-9, 235, So.) – 16.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg

Key Reserves:
31 Dennis Horner (6-7, 200, Fr.) – 5.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
20 Bryan Nieman (6-6, 215, Sr.) – 2.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg
15 Trevor Ferguson (6-5, 185, Fr.) – 2.3 ppg

NCSU Info
Schedule
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Grant ....... McCauley


Atsur ....... Costner


Fells ....... Lowe




(Photos courtesy Jason Cole/Pack Pride


Related Stories
Roy Williams Friday PC (w/audio)
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Feb 2, 2007
Brandan Wright Q&A (w/Audio)
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Feb 2, 2007
Danny Green Q&A (w/audio)
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Feb 2, 2007

Inside Carolina's Official Online Store:
johnnytshirt.com


Get the Inside Carolina Magazine!
THIS MONTH

April
The glossy, monthly magazine includes top-notch features, analysis and fantastic photos.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE IC MAG
NEXT MONTH

Spring

MAGAZINE COVERAGE
Subscribe today to the Inside Carolina Magazine, our glossy magazine publication covering Tar Heel sports!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from InsideCarolina.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Basketball > North Carolina
[View My HotList]