NC State (14-7) at North Carolina (13-7)
02/01/2014 7:41 AM
02/01/2014 9:03 AM
GAME NOTES: The ACC's leading scorer T.J. Warren, leads the NC State Wolfpack in a trip down Tobacco Road to face the rival North Carolina Tar Heels at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday afternoon.
Although Duke is certainly North Carolina's primary rival, there is no love lost between these two programs. They have met 224 times since first squaring off in 1912, with the Tar Heels dominating the all-time series 148-76. However, the Wolfpack earned a season split a year ago.
NC State has picked itself back up after a round stretch, with wins in three straight contests, all at home. The Wolfpack are now 14-7 overall, and just a game under .500 in league play (3-4). They will be on the road in four of their next five games, beginning against Miami next Saturday.
North Carolina has also had an uneven season, but the Tar Heels have earned wins in three of their last four to improve to 13-7 overall, including the same 3-4 mark in conference play as NC State. They will host another long-time ACC foe on Tuesday when Maryland comes to town.
Warren poured in 30 points, marking his fourth 30-point outing of the season, before fouling out as the Wolfpack held off Florida State for a 74-70 victory last time they were in action. NC State connected on 45.6 percent of its shots from the floor, outscoring the Seminoles in the paint (42-26) in a game in which neither team led by more than eight points.
The Wolfpack have been a mediocre offensive squad this season, ranking seventh in the ACC in scoring (72 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.463). They have had a much moire difficult time on the boards, where they are ranked in the bottom half of the conference (35.8 rpg). Warren (22.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg) has done all he can to keep his team competitive in all three of those areas, leading the team in rebounding as well as scoring, while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. Support has been limited for Warren, with Anthony Barber (10.8 ppg) and Desmond Lee (10.2 ppg) the next best scoring options.
North Carolina picked up a 78-65 road win over Georgia Tech in its last tilt. Marcus Paige led the way with 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds, as the Tar Heels shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half to pull away for the 13-point decision.
The Tar Heels are scoring nearly four more points per game (75.6 ppg) than the Wolfpack, despite shooting worse from the field (.458). Better balance has been the key, as Paige (16.8 ppg, 4.3 apg) is the top scorer on a team which features five players netting at least nine ppg. James Michael McAddoo (14.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) finishes well around the rim and is coming off a 17-point performance against Georgia Tech. Leslie McDonald (10.5 ppg) is only shooting 35.2 percent from the floor this season, but he tallied 15 points against the Yellow Jackets. Providing further depth are Brice Johnson (9.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and J.P. Tokoto (9.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg).
As always, Warren will find ways to score, but that alone won't be enough. The Wolfpack don't have the wealth of offensive performers that the Tar Heels do, and they also can't hope to keep up with them on the glass, as North Carolina is the best rebounding team in the ACC (40.8 rpg).
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