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Gameday: Keys for a NC State upset over #15 UNC

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The day started with a surprise snow storm that blanketed much of central North Carolina and it if the Wolfpack comes prepared it could end with a surprise upset heard ’round the ACC.

Despite a hard snow for much of the morning, ACC officials are saying the game will go on as planned. With NC State already in Chapel Hill, travel should not be a real issue for the team. What will be an issue is offensive rebounding, stopping Marcus Paige and finding a way to get Trevor Lacey going early.

Let’s take a deeper look at the keys to the game:

The bigs must come up big:
If NC State wants a shot in this game they are going to have to come ready to battle on the boards. UNC has made a living off of rebounding and scoring on the blocks. In the first meeting with Carolina Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks combined for 37 points and 19 boards. While State did win the rebounding battle the first time, it won’t be so easy on the road at UNC where the Heels have been playing great and have only lost 2 conference games (both to teams ranked in the top 15).

Gottfried has tinkered with his front court but has seemingly finally found something that works. That something is going with the more physical front line of Abu and Freeman (with Anya coming off the bench). The odd man out right now is Kyle Washington, however I wouldn’t count him totally out of this one. Washington gives State the ability to draw the UNC bigs out of the paint with his short baseline jumpers. In the first meeting it was Washington who really sparked the Pack with 17 points on 8-14 shooting.

 

Stop Marcus Paige
The junior point guard has made a living off of killing State. Last year he single handedly beat TJ Warren and the Pack at the PNC and just last month he was the catalyst in their victory over State with his 23 points and 9 assists. Stopping him is paramount and will fall on the shoulders of the red hot Cat Barber.

Barber has been a real reason State has turned the corer as of late and his confidence on offense has bled over to his tenacity on defense. All of the sudden he’s become the leader of this team and as the leader he has taken on a lot of new roles. Gottfried hopes today he takes the role of ‘stopper.’

Paige will also now have to be burdened by guarding Cat. In their first meeting he was guarding a guy who stood around the perimeter and passed side to side. Tonight he’ll face a different animal, one who never stops attacking and creating. This certainly will play a role on his fatigue level and hopefully take him out of his flow on offense.

 

Get Lacey Off
When Lacey gets going State is hard to stop. The problem he faced at the midseason mark was that teams would put bigger, stronger defenders on him. This made it tough for him to create space off the dribble for his pull up. He’s the nation’s leading isolation scorer, but against Carolina he won’t be able to shoot over top of anyone.

Lacey will certainly be hounded by JP Tokoto who is one of the ACC’s best defenders. Tokoto is long, tall and athletic, but he’ll be forced to really press up on Trevor. The good news is that over the past few games Lacey has opened up his game. All of the sudden he’s been finding success in attacking the basket. If he does this he is literally impossible to guard. Press up to close and he can muscle by you. Play off of him and you’ll get a jumper in the eye. If Lacey can get hot he can carry this team over the Heels, but if he allows Tokoto to shut him down like he did last time out (4-13 shooting), State will be in trouble.

 

Keep Ralston Hot
The other huge factor in this game is that Ralston Turner is getting hot again. Over the past few weeks Turner had gone ice cold and had really become a liability to the Pack, but as of late that’s starting to wear off. He’s dropped 28pts over the last 2 games and is shooting 50% from beyond the arc over that time. He’ll be guarded by Justin Jackson who, while tall and wirey, is not really great at chasing around a spot shooter. Turner getting his shot to fall early is huge for the Pack in this game.

 

If State can take care of those things then there’s no doubt they’ll be in a very good position to win this game, however even then the Heels are a tough matchup. This is a team playing their best basketball over the past two games. Remember, they were a few minutes away from knocking off Duke in Cameron before coming out a blowing GT out of the water 89-60. There is a lot on the line tonight and we should be in for a great matchup in the Smith Center.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball 2024-25 Scholarship Breakdown

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With the announcement of the addition of Forward Ismael Diouf yesterday, and news breaking that MJ Rice and Ernest Ross are no longer with the team this morning, here’s a look at the Scholarship Breakdown for the Men’s Basketball Team for the 2024-25 season.

Senior (1 Year of Eligibility)

Forward/Center Brandon Huntley-Hatfield
Forward/Center Ben Middlebrooks
Forward Guard Dontrez Styles
Guard/Forward Jayden Taylor
Guard Michael O’Connell
Guard Marcus Hill
Guard Breon Pass

Junior (2 Years of Eligibility)

Forward/Center Ismael Diouf
Guard Mike James

Sophomore ( 3 Years of Eligibility)

Guard/Forward Dennis Parker Jr.

Freshman (4 Years of Eligibility)

Guard/Forward Paul McNeil Jr.
Guard Trey Parker

NC State now has 1 scholarship available for the 2024-25 season. 

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Ernest Ross is No Longer on NC State’s Roster

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According to a source, Senior Forward Ernest Ross is no longer on NC State’s roster.

On April 17th, Ross entered the Transfer Portal. On May 10th, Ross verbally committed to UTSA. Then on May 15th, Ross announced that he would in fact be returning to NC State for his final year of eligibility.

Ross played in 14 games this past season, averaging 3.4 minutes per contest. After playing in 34 games last season, averaging 11.4 minutes per contest, Ross saw his participation dip to a career low this season, but that didn’t for a second break his infectious personality.

Ross was a consensus 4-star player in NC State’s 2021 recruiting class, with 247Sports ranking him as the #60 overall player nationally. ESPN ranked him as the #5 overall player in the state of Florida.

According to a source, Ross is leaving the program for personal reasons, that are non-basketball related.

Ross has 1 year of eligibility remaining.

 

 

 

 

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MJ Rice is No Longer on NC State’s Roster

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According to a source, Sophomore Guard MJ Rice is no longer on NC State’s roster.

Rice transferred to NC State last offseason from Kansas, and only played in 9 games for the Wolfpack this past season, averaging 4.1 points in 8.8 minutes per game.

On January 24th, it NC State announced that Rice would be sitting out the remainder of the season, and that they would be submitting a waiver for the season to count as a Redshirt year.

Prior to the beginning of the  season, Rice stepped away from the program for personal reasons, and missed the first 7 games, before joining the Wolfpack against Maryland Eastern-Shore.

The Kansas transfer played in 23 games for the Jayhawks as a Freshman, averaging 2.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game. ON3 ranked Rice as the #24 overall player nationally in the 2022 recruiting class. They also ranked him as the #2 overall player in the Transfer Portal.

It was always ‘iffy’ whether or not Rice would be on next years roster, but he didn’t enter the Transfer Portal, and remained with the team on their magical run, and even after.

According to a source, Rice is leaving the program for personal reasons, that are non-basketball related.

Rice has 3 years of eligibility remaining.

 

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NC State Commit Ismael Diouf: VIDEO VAULT

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NC State just landed a MASSIVE commitment from Canadian Forward Ismael Diouf (6’9″/215). Here’s a VIDEO VAULT of the new NC State big man.

 

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