East Rutherford, NJ – The 18th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores and NC State Wolfpack meet in East Rutherford this evening, in championship round action of the Legends Classic.
The Commodores are 2-1 on the young season with wins over Oregon (78-64) and Bucknell (80-68) sandwiched around an upset loss to Cleveland State (71-58), all at home.
The Mark Gottfried era in Raleigh has gotten off to a great start, with NC State posting three straight wins under new leadership. The Wolfpack have also enjoyed home cooking to start the year, with three wins over UNC Asheville (84-75), Morehead State (91-61) and Princeton (60-58) at the RBC Center.
This marks the fourth all-time meeting in this series, with Vanderbilt holding a 2-1 series advantage thanks to a 75-73 decision in the last meeting between the two teams in 2004.
The winner of this game will move on to the title game on Monday against either Texas or Oregon State.
The Commodores bounced back from a shocking loss to Cleveland State with a solid win over Bucknell this week. Vanderbilt made sure it didn't suffer another upset at home, placing five players in double figures against the Bison, led by Jeffery Taylor's 14 points. Brad Tinsley, Lance Goulbourne and Kedren Johnson all finished with 12 points, while Rod Odum chipped in with 10. Kevin Stallings' squad shot 45.6 percent from the floor and hit 10 three- pointers in the game, while taking very good care of the ball, with a mere five turnovers. The team got the win despite not having the SEC's leading returning scorer, John Jenkins in the lineup. Jenkins, who is averaging 20.5 ppg in the first two outings, was sidelined with an ankle injury. He is listed as questionable for this contest. Taylor (14.7 ppg) and Tinsley (10.7 ppg) will need to continue their strong play if Jenkins remains on the bench.
DeShawn Painter hit a jumper with just 4.2 seconds remaining, leading the Wolfpack to a two-point win over Princeton last time out and keeping NC State unbeaten on the year. Painter, who was 4-of-8 shooting in the game, finished with 11 points. Sophomore guard Lorenzo Brown led the way with a team-high 16 points, to go with eight assists. Richard Howell chipped in with 10 points and just missed a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds. The Wolfpack have shown some offensive punch in the early stages of the season, averaging 78.3 ppg on just over 50 percent shooting. Howell paces the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double with 16.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Painter (14.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg) provides depth up front, while guards C.J. Williams (12.3 ppg) and Brown (11.3 ppg, 7.1 apg) give the team backcourt balance. One of the team's top players, C.J. Leslie (11.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg as a freshman), has sat out the first three games due to an NCAA violation. He will make his debut tonight against the Commodores.