GAME NOTES: The NC State Wolfpack welcomes the Wildcats of Northwestern to PNC Arena as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night.
Northwestern enters the tilt looking to snap a two-game slide. The most recent of those setbacks came on Friday against nationally-ranked UCLA in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Following this tilt, the Wildcats will return to Evanston for a five-game homestand leading into the New Year.
For NC State, this will be the fifth leg of a six-game homestand. The Wolfpack improved to 4-1 at PNC Arena this season with Saturday's 75-56 rout over Eastern Kentucky.
NC State leads the all-time series, 3-1. This is the first meeting between these two teams since 2009-10.
Northwestern's JerShon Cobb (15.1 ppg) has scored 22 points in each of his last two games and was named to the Las Vegas Invitational all-tournament team. Teammate Kale Abrahamson chipped in with a career-high 19 points, but the Wildcats dug themselves an early 14-1 hole and never led. The defense was virtually nonexistent, as UCLA knocked down an impressive 13-of-17 3-pointers (.765) and shot 63.6 percent from the floor for the game. Tre Demps and Alex Olah rounded out NU's double-digit scorers with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Top scorer and rebounder Drew Crawford (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) missed the game with back spasms but said he expects to play on Wednesday night.
With or without Crawford, the 'Cats will no doubt have their hands full with NC State's T.J. Warren, a 54-percent shooter from the floor who is averaging 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and nearly two steals per contest. However, he is far from the Wolfpack's only scoring option, as Anthony Barber (13.0 ppg), Desmond Lee (11.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Jordan Vandenberg (10.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg) are all averaging double figures. Warren led all scorers with 30 points in the win over EKU, marking his second straight game with 30 points. He also pulled down a season-high 11 rebounds, while Vandenberg tallied 14 points and eight boards, and Barber finished with 12 points and five assists. NC State shot 50 percent from the floor and held EKU to 37.9-percent shooting.
Crawford's availability will certainly factor into the outcome in this one, but even a healthy Crawford might not be enough to contain Warren and company on the Wolfpack's home floor.
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