GAME NOTES: The NC State Wolfpack look to snap a three-game losing streak as they visit Littlejohn Coliseum to tangle with the Clemson Tigers in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
This will be the second matchup of the season and the 147th in history between these schools on the hardwood. NC State held off the Tigers for a 66-62 victory in the first matchup of the season to extend its all-time series lead to 98-48.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack dropped a 98-85 decision at Duke on Thursday to mark its third loss in a row as it fell to Virginia and Miami-Florida by narrow margins in its two previous outings. The setbacks dropped NC State to a 16-7 overall record and a 5-5 mark in the ACC standings. Junior point guard Lorenzo Brown has been out of commission since sustaining an ankle injury versus Virginia, and it is unclear whether he will return on Sunday. With Brown out, freshman Tyler Lewis has averaged 10.7 points and 4.3 assists per game while filling in as a starter.
Even without Brown, NC State has one of the most talented lineups in all of college basketball. The Wolfpack are one of the top shooting teams in the nation at a healthy 50.6 percent clip, ranking fourth nationally. That has yielded a 78.8 ppg scoring offense average, which is the second best mark in the ACC behind only Duke. Five players come into this game averaging double figures, led by C.J. Leslie's 15.7 ppg. Richard Howell has been a force in the paint, averaging a double-double with 13.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. T.J. Warren (11.9 ppg) is a dangerous asset off the bench, while Scott Wood (11.6 ppg - 60 3-pointers) is the team's top threat from beyond the arc.
Howell led a group of five players in double figures with 23 points and nine rebounds in NC State's trip to Durham, but it was clearly not enough to help it avoid the 13-point loss. Duke outscored the Wolfpack 30-12 from beyond the 3-point line and also held a 32-11 edge in free-throw line scoring. The double-digit loss to a team the Wolfpack previously beat by eight at home, dropped their record to 1-5 in true road tests.
The Tigers are also coming off a loss to a team they have already defeated. Clemson was completely dominated on Thursday as it fell, 78-41, at Virginia to the defensively suffocating Cavaliers. Coach Brad Brownell's squad is now 12-10 on the season and 4-6 in ACC play. Devin Booker is pacing Clemson this season with 12.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per tilt after he finished with seven points and nine rebounds in the loss at Virginia.
K.J. McDaniels scored a team-high 10 points versus the Cavaliers as Clemson submitted a dreadful shooting display. The Tigers made only one of 17 attempts from beyond the arc, a season-low six percent mark. Virginia took advantage of Clemson's 19 turnovers, turning them into 32 points. In addition to Booker, McDaniels (11.0 ppg) and Milton Jennings (10.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) also own double- digit scoring averages.
Both teams fought hard in the first battle, but NC State's homecourt advantage gave it the slight edge. Clemson may be able to knock off the Wolfpack if Brown is unable to return, but NC State will be a very difficult foe either way.
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