GAME NOTES: The NC State Wolfpack have postseason aspirations, but first they must get past the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Wednesday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference clash at PNC Arena.
Wake Forest has made the short trek east on I-40 in hopes of sweeping the season series. The Demon Deacons won the first meeting on their home floor on Jan. 22, 86-84. Devin Thomas tallied 25 points and 14 rebounds for his first career double-double to headline the victory over the Wolfpack, who were ranked No. 18 at the time.
But to pull off the sweep, Wake Forest will have to find a way to overcome its 1-9 road record. In fact, the Demon Deacons have lost eight of 10 since that first meeting with NC State. Most recently, they were on the wrong end of a 67-57 final against Maryland last weekend.
While WF has struggled on the road, NC State boasts a 15-1 record on its home floor this season. The Wolfpack have gotten hot at the right time with five wins in their past six games after snapping a three-game losing streak. They notched a 70-57 win at Georgia Tech over the weekend to move into a fourth- place tie with Virginia in the ACC standings, and the top four teams get a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Wake hung tough with Maryland but ultimately the Terrapins prevailed behind an 8-0 spurt midway through the second half. The Demon Deacons twice cut the deficit to four but could not draw any closer the rest of the way. C.J. Harris led the way with 19 points and six rebounds in the loss, while Devin Thomas tallied 17 points and seven boards. However, Wake shot just 32.7 percent from the floor as a team, committed 18 turnovers and also lost the rebounding battle, 41-30. On the season, Harris paces the squad with 15.0 points per game and is a 41-percent shooter from beyond the arc (48-of-118). Travis McKie is next in line with 14.0 ppg to go along with 7.3 rebounds. If the Demon Deacons hope to pull off the season sweep tonight, they'll need better performances from each of those two. Harris was 3-of-10 out on the perimeter against Maryland, while McKie was just 2-of-8 from the floor overall.
Wake will certainly need to bring its A-game in order to keep pace with the Wolfpack, who rank second in the ACC in scoring offense with 78.0 ppg. NC State shoots 50 percent from the floor as a team, which includes a 39 percent showing from beyond the arc. Five players are averaging double figures, led by C.J. Leslie with 15.1 ppg to go along with 7.6 rebounds. Richard Howell is averaging a double-double in the paint (13.0 ppg, 10.9 rpg), while Scott Wood (12.0 ppg) is tallying nearly three 3-pointers per contest as he is shooting 43 percent out on the perimeter. In Sunday's road win over Georgia Tech, the Wolfpack made only 1-of-11 threes and was out-rebounded, 42-36. However, they made up for it by forcing 15 turnovers and holding the Yellow Jackets to 34.4- percent shooting from the floor on their Senior Night. No Tech player finished in double figures, while Howell paced three NC State players double figures with 18 points.
NC State will no doubt want to exact some revenge for that narrow loss to Wake in January. With a first-round bye on the line, don't expect the Wolfpack to take this matchup lightly.
Game Date and Time