UNC-Greensboro-NC State Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- North Carolina State might not be a "sophisticated team offensively to guard," but that hasn't stopped it from leading the nation in shooting.
Facing a slumping UNC Greensboro team on Monday in Raleigh could help the 23rd-ranked Wolfpack continue their hot shooting and win seven straight for the first time in five seasons.
Taking the floor for the first time since a 92-73 win over St. Bonaventure on Dec. 22, North Carolina State (10-2) committed a season-low eight turnovers and hit 54.5 percent from the field in Saturday's 84-68 victory over Western Michigan.
The Wolfpack, who begin their ACC schedule Saturday at Boston College, have reached 80 points in each of their last five games and are shooting 53.5 percent for the season.
"The stuff they run is very basic, the high-post offense, and they just put their players in a position on the floor to be successful," said Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins. "It's not like there's a lot of sophisticated misdirection or anything like that. So you can guard their basic stuff pretty easily, but then your work really begins because they get the ball into their best players' hands and they really go to work. They're all capable of doing damage when they need to."
The frontcourt trio of C.J. Leslie, senior Richard Howell and freshman T.J. Warren have combined for 52.7 percent of the Wolfpack's 497 points during the winning streak and 62.6 percent of their 211 rebounds.
Warren (68.9) and Howell (67.4) are both among the five best in the nation in terms of field-goal percentage, while Leslie is averaging a team-best 15.3 points after netting all 19 of his points in the final 23 minutes on Saturday.
He became the 46th player in program history to reach 1,000 points.
"He played pretty good," said coach Mark Gottfried, whose team last won seven in a row from Dec. 15, 2007-Jan. 9, 2008. "I don't want him to flip the switch. I want him to play that way all the time."
If Leslie and North Carolina State can play a full 40 minutes, it could be a rough New Year's Eve for the Spartans (2-8), whose opponents are averaging 85.3 points on 53.4 percent shooting during their three-game skid.
UNC Greensboro is coming off an 84-70 loss to Wake Forest on Dec. 22 that dropped it to 1-47 all-time against the ACC, including an 0-2 mark this season.
If the Spartans are going to improve their 0-4 road record and snap the Wolfpack's eight-game home winning streak, they'll likely need a big game from Southern Conference scoring leader Trevis Simpson, who is averaging 20.3 points after hitting 10 of 18 shots and scoring 25 against the Demon Deacons.
The Wolfpack are holding teams to 39.8 percent shooting during their winning streak.
North Carolina State is 7-0 in this series following its 89-67 home win on Dec. 31, 2009.
Updated December 30, 2012