North Carolina State has weathered the most difficult portion of its non-conference schedule. Now the Wolfpack head into a string of five straight games in which they really shouldn’t be tested, beginning Saturday against visiting South Carolina State.
The Wolfpack followed a 90-84 upset of then-No. 4 Arizona with back-to-back losses to Northern Iowa and Tennessee at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. They bounced back with an 85-78 win over Penn State on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Bulldogs are coming off their first win – a 100-91 victory over NAIA opponent Morris. N.C. State is 29-1 all-time against teams from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
TV: Noon ET, FSN South/RSN, ACC Network
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (1-6): The Bulldogs are one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, shooting a paltry 36.1 percent overall and 32.2 percent from 3-point range. Guard Donte Wright (12.7 points) and forward Damani Applewhite (10.4, 6.7 rebounds) are the team’s only double-digit scorers, but guard James Richardson put up 23 points against Morris. Applewhite scored 27 points on 12-of-13 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds against Morris, but he will face a much tougher frontcourt against the Wolfpack.
ABOUT N.C. STATE (6-2): The Wolfpack have turned up the defensive pressure under first-year coach Kevin Keatts, forcing opponents into 18.4 turnovers per game. N.C. State is getting it done at the other end, too, despite losing its top three scorers from last season, as the addition of Baylor graduate transfer Allerik Freeman (16 points, 5.6 rebounds) and the return of Lennard Freeman (12.3, five) from injury has helped fill the void. Swingman Torin Dorn (12.8 points, six rebounds) also is off to a strong start, and Turkish 7-footer Omer Yurtseven (12.1, 6.9) is giving the Wolfpack valuable production off the bench.
1. N.C. State’s bench has outscored the opposition’s reserves 121-39 over the last four games.
2. The Wolfpack have forced 20 or more turnovers four times in their first eight contests after doing so only twice over the previous seven seasons.
3. The Bulldogs averaged 58.2 points through their first six games before putting up triple digits against Morris.
PREDICTION: N.C. State 101, South Carolina State 68