North Carolina State plays its final non-conference contest before entering Atlantic Coast Conference play when it hosts Jacksonville on Friday. The Wolfpack have won four of their last five, including a triumph over Robert Morris on Tuesday, while the Dolphins are hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak.
Jacksonville is without two of its top three scorers - Jace Hogan (17.6 points) and Devin Harris (11.8) - due to undisclosed injuries for the unforeseeable future, according to coach Tony Jasick. That means trouble for the Dolphins as they try to keep pace with North Carolina State, which has three starters averaging in double figures - including guard Allerik Freeman (14.8 points). Forward Torin Dorn has been on a roll lately, recording a double-double in three of his last four contests, and is averaging 13.8 points and a team-best 7.5 rebounds. Freshman guard Braxton Beverly has taken over at the point in the absence of Markell Johnson, who was suspended for the last two contests for a violation of the school’s code of conduct, and has averaged 10.7 points and 5.5 assists while starting the last six games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT JACKSONVILLE (4-9): The absences of Hogan and Harris have hurt the Dolphins’ offense as the team is coming off an 11-point home loss to Northern Arizona, which entered the game ranked 318th out of 351 NCAA Division I teams with 80.3 points allowed per contest. Freshman guard J.D. Notae struggled to try to fill the offensive void, going 4-for-16 while finishing with 13 points. One positive from the contest was the play of freshman Jalyn Hinton, who scored a career-best 18 points off the bench and may have earned himself more playing time as the Dolphins try to find the right offensive combination.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (9-3): Despite winning 75 percent of its first 12 games, North Carolina State still is trying to find chemistry because of the injuries and suspensions that have shaken up the team’s lineup and rotation. Abdul-Malik Abu was out for six games with a sprained knee ligament, moving Dorn to power forward - although he has switched back to small forward and been very effective, while Johnson’s suspension has affected the backcourt. Beverly played 37 minutes against Robert Morris and had some struggles, but Lavar Batts Jr. played well in his 22 minutes of action at the point as the team continues to try to put things together with an ever-evolving lineup.
1. Notae leads Atlantic Sun Conference freshmen in scoring (14.4 points), steals (1.83) and assists (2.2) while ranking second in rebounding (5.8).
2. N.C. State has posted a plus-51 turnover margin, tying Virginia for best in the ACC.
3. Wolfpack C Omer Yurtseven is shooting 65.2 percent on the season and 50 percent or better in 10 of his 12 contests, including each of the last nine.
PREDICTION: North Carolina State 79, Jacksonville 67