Thursday, November 27, 2008

UNCG (1-2) @ NC State (3-0)

When: Sunday, Nov. 30 2 pm
Where: RBC Center (19,722)
TV: None/ACC Select

NC State Athletics
NC State Forum
NC State Blog - Section Six
NC State Blog - State Fans Nation

Spartan Notes:
- UNCG is coming off a 73-60 loss at Central Arkansas on Saturday. Mikko Koivisto scored 24 points and Ben Stywall had 8 rebounds. It was the third straight game for UNCG with 20+ turnovers. Also, UNCG shot just 50% (12-24) from the free throw line. Landon Clement was held scoreless.
- Mikko Koivisto leads UNCG in scoring (18.0 points) and assists (3.0). Ben Stywall leads the team in rebounding (8.3).
- On the year, UNCG is shooting 41.6% from the field, 36.7% from 3 point range and 60.6 % from the free throw line. The Spartans are averaging an amazing 23.7 turnovers a game.
- In their last meeting, NC State defeated the Spartans in overtime (95-93). The game took place on January 2, 2007. Kyle Hines led UNCG with 27 points as the Spartans hit a school record 18 three pointers. Ben McCauley led the Wolfpack with 26 points.

Wolfpack Notes:
- The Wolfpack crushed Winthrop 74-48 in their last outing. NC State was led by Ben McCauley (15 pts and 11 rebs) but had three other players in double figures.
- NC State lost 2 starters from last years squad ... JJ Hickson (declared for the draft) and Gavin Grant (graduation). Grant hit a three pointer 2 years ago to send the game against the Spartans into overtime.
- There are 3 Wolfpack players averaging in double figures ... Ben McCauley(14.7) , Courtney Fells (14.0) and Brandon Costner (13.3). Costner (7.7) and McCauley (7.3) are the leading rebounders.
-On the year NC State is shooting 44.5% from the field, 34.5% from 3 point range and 74.6% from the free throw line. They are averaging a meager 9.7 turnovers a game and have 5 players with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

My Thoughts:
NC State lost a lot of "star power" when JJ Hickson left for the NBA. However, they have a lot a quality players returning. The Wolfpack big men have some interesting skill sets. Ben McCauley is a tremendous passer with a knack for find open shooters. Brandon Costner can shoot from all over the court. Reserve F/C Tracy Smith is the closest thing NC State has to a traditional low post player.

NC State's "lock down" defender, Courtney Fells, will probably stay with Mikko the entire game. Fells' size (6'4") and athleticism tend to bother most guards that he's called upon to shut down. Hopefully Mikko's size (6'4") will keep that from being a problem.

The one area where NC State is thin is at PG. Reserve PG Farnold Degand is re-injured after returning from a season ending ACL tear last season. Unfortunately, UNCG's troubles at this position are also well documented. It might be to the Spartans advantage to play a more controlled pace b/c none of the guards seem to value the basketball.

I do think that this will be the first time this season that UNCG can play lineups without worrying about size match ups. Mikko, Ben, Kendall and Landon can all be on the court at the same time against most NC State lineup combos.

NC State is not a particularly tall team and is not known (lately) for its rebounding. UNCG will need to do well in rebounding in order to stay competitive. Also, the Spartans must limit their turnovers or this game could get ugly in a hurry.

In the end, the Spartans need to play well and gain some confidence. A win is not exactly necessary, but they do need to stay in the game to feel like they can compete on the road. Three years ago, the Spartans were hammered in back-to-back games against @NC State and @Duke and a promising season spiraled out of control. UNCG needs to avoid a similar outcome.