Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - The 25th-ranked NC State Wolfpack continue
their season-long, six-game homestand on Saturday night when they take on the
Norfolk State Spartans at PNC Arena.
After dropping four of its first five games, Norfolk State bounced back with
four-game win streak to move above .500 for the first time this season. The
Spartans faced their most difficult task of the year on Tuesday night when
they traveled the Champaign to take on No. 10 Illinois, and not surprisingly,
their winning streak came to an end with a 64-54 loss.
NC State won its first three games and rose to No. 6 in the AP poll, but
following losses to Oklahoma State (76-56) and Michigan (79-72), it fell all
the way to No. 25. The Wolfpack has bounced back of late with two straight
wins over UConn (69-65) and Cleveland State (69-65).
The Wolfpack won the only previous meeting between these two teams, 81-63,
back in February of 1998.
Norfolk State's offensive output has been modest at best this season (.416
field goal percentage, 65.2 ppg), but against one of the nation's elite teams,
it was even worse. The Spartans shot just 38.2 percent from the floor in the
10-point loss to Illinois, including 6-of-23 from 3-point range (.261). Rashid
Gaston provided a spark off the bench with 12 points and eight rebounds, while
Pendarvis Williams added 11 points, five boards and three steals. They are
without an explosive scorer, as Williams leads the way with just 12.0 ppg, and
although he is only a 42.2 percent shooter, he has been nearly automatic from
the free throw line (29-of-31). Malcolm Hawkins has made a team-high 16 3-
pointers at a 38.1 percent clip en route to 11.7 ppg, and Rob Johnson adds
10.1 ppg. Although they aren't consistent contributors on the scoreboard, both
Gaston (7.1 rpg) and Jamel Fuentes (5.7 apg) are crucial cogs in NSU's attack.
Behind the second-ranked field goal percentage in the nation (.521), NC State
has gotten off to a fantastic start, putting up just shy of 78 ppg. The theme
continued in the 17-point win over Cleveland State, as it shot nearly 55
percent from the floor. C.J. Leslie tallied 19 points and eight rebounds in
the victory, and Richard Howell had a double-double consisting of 17 points
and 10 rebounds. T.J. Warren shot 6-of-8 from the field to turn in 16 points
off the bench, and Rodney Purvis (11 points) and Lorenzo Brown (10 points, six
assists) were also productive. The Wolfpack are one of the deepest teams in
the country, as they have six players who net at least 9.8 ppg. Howell (14.4
ppg) and Warren (13.8 ppg) have both been outstanding in making better than 67
percent of their field goal attempts, while Howell also grabs a team-high 8.4
rpg. Leslie (13.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg) has also been a reliable asset in the
frontcourt, and Brown (11.1 ppg) does a great job distributing the ball with
5.9 apg. Purvis (9.8 ppg) and Scott Wood (9.8 ppg) have combined to drain 28-
of-63 from 3-point range.
The Sports Network