NC State (14-11, 2-8) will look to snap a five-game ACC losing streak today when it travels to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels in what has become an unexpected battle for last place in the conference standings. Carolina (13-11, 2-7) has lost four straight ACC games and eight of its last 10 coming into today’s game.
Sidney Loweâ€™s teams have never had this problem.
While the Wolfpack under Lowe has yet to make an NCAA Tournament or finish in the top half the ACC standings, theyâ€™ve always been able to get good shots.
Many of his signature wins have come in large part because of his ability to run a highly efficient offense… one that excels at putting players in position to take and make open shots. Suddenly and inexplicably his team has become unable to do either, sending them spiraling out of control on what is now a five-game conference losing streak.
Just to warn you, for purposes of this article weâ€™ll be talking in terms of effective field goal percentage. All this means is that we account for the extra value of 3-point baskets (since hitting 33 percent on 3-pointers gives the same amount of points as 50 percent on two-point shots), giving us one number that better indicates how a team shot from the floor.
Of the 20 worst shooting performances in the Sidney Lowe era, eight of them have come this season. Six of those have been in ACC play, all of them losses â€“ on the road against Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech as well as at home against Clemson and Virginia Tech. Home games against Virginia and North Carolina also crack the top-25 on the list, which you can view in its entirety here.
Prior to Thursday’s practice, NC State men’s basketball coach Sidney Lowe decided to take his team to the movies. The film could have been described as a ‘horror’ show since it was a replay of Wednesday night’s 72-52 loss to Virginia Tech.
“After they watched the film, they were a little bit embarrassed,” Lowe said. “When you’re in a game, you really can’t see what’s happening. We showed them the film and they walked out of there in disbelief. They couldn’t believe some of the things we were doing. We went on the floor and practiced and had a great practice with great effort. Unfortunately, you have a game or two like that during the season.”
Just 30 minutes down the road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina coach Roy Williams can empathize with Lowe’s plight, given UNC’s unexpected problems this season.
While NC State (14-11, 2-8) has dropped five straight conference games, the Tar Heels (13-11, 2-7) have lost seven of their last eight in league play, with the only win being a 77-63 triumph over the Wolfpack in Raleigh back on January 26.
NC State travels to North Carolina
NC State starts a stretch of three of the next five ACCÂ games on the road, when the Wolfpack travels to Chapel Hill this Saturday for a 4:00 p.m. atÂ North Carolina. UNC won in Raleigh earlier this season, 77-63, on January 26.Â The game will be broadcasted on ESPN with Mike Patrick and Len Elmore.
The Series Vs. North Carolina
Saturdayâ€™s meeting will mark the 217th betweenÂ NC State and North Carolina in the series that dates back to the 1912-13 season. The Wolfpack has faced just Duke and Wake Forest more times than the Tar Heels.Â UNC holds a 141-75 lead in the series and has won 17 of the last 22 meetings dating backÂ to the 1999-00 season. UNC has won the last seven meetings between the teams, and CoachÂ Lowe is 1-7 against the Tar Heels.Â The Tar Heels hold the advantage in games played in Chapel Hill, 68-22. The last timeÂ the Pack won at UNC, was in overtime in 2003 (75-67). The Pack also won the 2002 roadÂ matchup, the first time NC State won back-to-back years at UNC since 1973 and 1974.
Earlier This Season Versus North Carolina
NC State went over eight minutes without a point inÂ the second half, as North Carolina came away with a 77-63 win at the RBC Center on January 26. TheÂ Pack put together a 20-6 run wrapped around halftime, including a 10-1 spurt to open the second half,Â as NC State captured a 43-38 lead with 17:04 left. The Pack then missed 17 of its next 18 shots, andÂ UNC went on a 18-2 run to capture the lead for good. UNC shot 50.9 percent (29-57), including 57.7Â percent (15-26) in the second half. Tracy Smith led the Pack with 20 points, while Javier Gonzalez hadÂ 19, including scoring 15 of NC State’s 18 points during one stretch.
Last Time Out for NC State
Virginia Tech led from start to finish, as the Hokies won in RaleighÂ for the first time since 1917, with their 72-52 win at the RBC Center on Wednesday. The HokiesÂ made their first 10 shots of the game and jumped out to a 26-7 lead nine minutes into the game.Â NC State would shoot a season-low 28.6 percent (20-70) from the field, and failed to make a three-pointer (0-11) for the first time in 655 games (1989 at Wake Forest). Dennis Horner had his firstÂ career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
Last Season Versus North Carolina
North Carolina won both match-ups last season.Â No. 5 North Carolina led from start to finish, as the Tar Heels downed NC State 93-76 at theÂ RBC Center on January 31. UNC went into the half up 43-31, and increased its lead to 54-36 beforeÂ the first media timeout. But the Pack rallied, and cut the lead down to 69-62 with eight minutes leftÂ but could get no closer. Courtney Fells led the Pack as he scored 20 of his 22 points in the secondÂ half, including four three-pointers. North Carolina took advantage with its frontline, as the Tar HeelsÂ outscored NC State 46-16 in points in tha paint, and shot 56.5 percent (35-62) from the field.Â No. 3 North Carolina completed the season sweep of NC State, as the Tar Heels downed theÂ Wolfpack 89-80 at Chapel Hill on February 18. UNC held a 39-36 lead at the half, and opened theÂ second half on a 14-2 run, to capture a 53-38 run with 16:25 left. NC State battled back, and gotÂ within six pionts at the 10:48 mark thanks to a 19-10 run, but would get no closer. Javier GonzlaezÂ finished with a team-high 18 points, with 16 coming in the first half, as he hit all four of his three-pointÂ attempts. Tracy Smith added 15 points, while Dennis Horner added 13 off the bench. NC State shotÂ 54.1 percent (33-61) from the field, including 64.3 percent in the second half, but UNC hit 55.4 (36-65) for the game.
Second Half Shooting Woes
NC State has dropped its last five ACC games, and itsÂ shooting performances in the second half have been a major factor in the losses.Â NC State has hit just 30.2 percent (49-162) of its second half shots in the last five ACCÂ games. NC State’s best showing was 35.1 percent in the second half at Georgia Tech, andÂ in each of the other four losses NC State was under 30.0 percent. The Pack’s opponentsÂ have combined to shoot 55.9 percent (71-127) in the second half of those games. The Pack has also been outscored 202-148 (40.4-29.6) in those second halves.Â In the home loss to UNC, NC State captured a 43-38 lead with 17:04 left, but the PackÂ would miss 17 of its next 18 shots and go over eight minutes without scoring a point. AtÂ Virginia, the Pack would score just four points in the first 10 minutes of that half.
Degand Returns After Missing Game
After sitting out the Georgia Tech game with adeep thigh bruise, senior Farnold Degand returned for Wednesday’s game against VirginiaTech. Degand was limited in practice before the loss to the Hokies, but came off the benchto play 20 minutes.
Changing the Starters
After having the same starting lineup in 14 of the first 16 games ofÂ the season, the Pack’s starters have been undergoing change as of late. In the Pack’s nineÂ ACC games since January, the Pack has had five different starting lineups.Â Freshmen Josh Davis and Richard Howell were each inserted into the starting lineupÂ for the first time this season at Georgia Tech last weekend. Howell replaced senior Dennis Horner who was 24 starts. Freshman Scott Wood is the only Pack player to start all 25Â games, the first 23 at small forward before starting at shooting guard the last two games.Â Juniors Javier Gonzalez and Tracy Smith have been staples in the starting lineup allÂ season, as the two have combined to start 46 of their 48 games played this season.
There will be a game open post today, but no live blog. My apologies.