Coming off their biggest win of the season, the 14th-ranked NC State Wolfpack put a lengthy 10-game win streak on the line, as they head to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins in ACC action.
The Wolfpack were considered the cream of the crop in the ACC prior to the start of the season and certainly made believers of naysayers with last weekend's 84-76 victory over then top-ranked and previously unbeaten Duke. Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack are now 14-2 overall and 3-0 in league play. The team's current 10-game win streak is its longest since the 1988-89 campaign.
Mark Turgeon' Terrapins had a strong non-conference slate into this game with a solid 13-3 overall record, with a lone loss to defending national champion Kentucky in the season-opener. However, ACC action has proved much more difficult. After opening league play with a 94-71 rout of Virginia Tech, Maryland has dropped back-to-back games to Florida State (65-62) and most recently, Miami-Florida (54-47).
This has been a very competitive series with Maryland clinging to a 76-73 advantage all-time. The Terrapins had a nine-game win streak in the series snapped last year, with NC State's 79-74 victory in Raleigh. The Terps have won four straight over the Wolfpack in College Park.
The Wolfpack are as dangerous a team as there is in the country, thanks to their overall efficiency at the offensive end. NC State currently leads the nation in field-goal percentage at .528 and ranks eighth nationally in scoring at 81.5 ppg. The scoring depth on the roster is vast, with five players averaging double figures. C.J. Leslie is starting to live up to the hype that he brought to Raleigh when he arrived. The junior forward is shooting .579 from the field and netting a team-high 16.2 ppg. Point guard Lorenzo Brown has All-American talent as both a potent scorer (13.0 ppg) and deft distributor (7.1 apg). Richard Howell has dominated down low, shooting .623 from the floor and averaging a double-double with 12.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. T.J. Warren (12.3 ppg) can fill it up as well and is converting 67.3 percent of the time. Scott Wood is the team's resident sniper (12.3 ppg, .453 from behind the arc).
It was a potent one-two punch by Leslie and Howell that led the Wolfpack to the big win over the Blue Devils last weekend. Leslie was 9-of-16 from the floor and led all scorers with 25 points. Howell dominated inside with 16 points and 18 rebounds. Brown also posted a double-double in the win with 12 points and 13 assists, while Wood was a perfect 3-of-3 from long range, finishing with 14 points in the win.
If there is a team in the conference that can cool off the Wolfpack it is the Terrapins. Maryland comes in ranked first in the ACC and third nationally in field-goal percentage defense (.353), holding 12 of their opponents under 40 percent shooting. Offensively, the team is holding its own by shooting a healthy .483 from the field, leading to 74.8 ppg. Center Alex Len leads the way in both scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). Dez Wells adds to the frontcourt play with 12.2 ppg on .555 shooting. Nick Faust and Seth Allen add some scoring punch with 9.0 and 8.2 ppg, respectively.
Maryland was stifled by Miami last time out, as the Terps shot a mere .316 overall, including a mere .020 from behind the arc (3-of-15). Wells and Len were the only significant offensive contributors in the loss, netting 18 and 16 points, respectively. The remainder of the roster combined for just 13 points.