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December 8, 2012
Wolfpack back in Reynolds Coliseum
With a ton of returning talent and a pair of promising freshmen coming in, North Carolina State entered the season with huge expectations.
While it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for the Wolfpack thus far, they showed signs of coming around their last time out.
No. 25 North Carolina State looks to build on its latest win Saturday when it hosts Cleveland State.
After reaching the regional semifinals of last season's NCAA tournament, the Wolfpack (5-2), led by Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown and Scott Wood, figured to become all the more formidable with the additions of T.J. Warren and Rodney Purvis.
North Carolina State got off to a good start by winning its first three games but has split its last four. The Wolfpack, who fell 76-56 to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tipoff title game Nov. 18 before avoiding a monumental upset by sneaking past UNC Asheville 82-80 at home five days later, went on to lose 79-72 at No. 3 Michigan on Nov. 27.
North Carolina State, though, bounced back with its first noteworthy win of the season Tuesday, beating Connecticut 69-65 in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Leslie had 16 points and a season-best 13 rebounds while Howell added 13 and 10 for the Wolfpack, who held the Huskies to 40.3 percent shooting.
"I think this was a gutsy win and I thought we really defended better in the second half," said coach Mark Gottfried, whose team has dropped 19 spots in the AP poll after opening at No. 6. "First half, (Connecticut's) rebounding killed us. We were not rebounding the ball nearly as well as we can."
While there's no debating the Wolfpack's offensive prowess, it's their defensive efforts that have proven make or break. North Carolina State is 4-0 when holding teams to under 41.0 percent shooting and 1-2 when it doesn't - with its lone victory coming over one-win UNC Asheville.
The Wolfpack have posted a 38.6 opponent field-goal percentage in taking 14 of 15 home games against unranked, non-conference foes, a trend they'll look to continue Saturday against Cleveland State (6-2).
The Vikings are coming off back-to-back wins, 69-63 at Ball State on Nov. 28 and 78-73 over Toledo last Saturday. Sophomore Charlie Lee scored a career-high 22 points to go along with seven assists for Cleveland State, which closed Saturday's game on a 7-2 run.
"I give this team such a heads up because they're fighting with all types of odds out there every game," said coach Gary Waters, who is one win away from 300. "They're young, they got players down, all kinds of things are happening to them but they're never quitting, they're fighting back every time they get an opportunity."
Cleveland State's biggest injury concern surrounds sophomore Anton Grady. The 6-foot-8 forward, who averages 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds, has missed the last two games with a knee injury and is expected to be sidelined the rest of the month.
The Vikings also played Michigan - their only other matchup of the season with a ranked opponent - and couldn't keep up, falling 77-47 on Nov. 13.
Cleveland State had dropped its first 20 road games against Top-25 foes before going 3-4 over its last seven, most recently winning 71-58 at then-No. 7 Vanderbilt on Nov. 13, 2011.
Cleveland State preview
NC State 2011-12 roster
NC State schedule/results
NC State season stats
Connecticut season stats
Cleveland State (6-2) vs. No. 25 NC State (5-2)
Game time: Saturday, Dec. 8, 1 p.m. &dashm; Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh
Television: Fox Sports South
PG - 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr., 11.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.9 apg)
SG - 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr., 10.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
SF - 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 235, Fr., 13.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
PF - 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr., 12.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg)
C - 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr., 14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
PG - 31 Charlie Lee (5-9, 160, Soph., 15.8 ppg, 5.8 apg)
SG - 1 Sebastian Douglas (6-4, 210, Soph., 8.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
WF - 21 Marlin Mason (6-6, 210, Soph., 8.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
PF - 33 Tim Kamczyc (6-7, 220, Sr., 11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
C - 4 Devon Long (6-7, 260, Jr., 5.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
2011-12 record: 22-11, 12-6 Horizon
2012 postseason: Lost 76-65 at Stanford in the first round of the NIT Tournament
Coach: Gary Waters, 7th season (128-84)
Series: First meeting
Cleveland State: Sophomore point guard Charlie Lee, who hails from Milwaukee, was an exciting performer in high school and has become the leader for the Vikings. He scored a career-high 22 points, dished out seven assists and went 4 of 6 from three-point land in Cleveland State's last game, a 78-73 win over Toledo last Saturday. He also had 20 points against both Grambling State Nov. 9 and at Robert Morris Nov. 20, and went for 14 points and 10 assists against Bowling Green Nov. 12 for his only double-double of the season. Lee, who averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 assists per game last year, was bottled up against Michigan. He had six points and five assists in a 77-47 road loss to the Wolverines Cleveland State could be without sophomore center Anton Grady, who is averaging 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, but has missed the last two contests. He's scored in double figures in the first six games, including 16 against Robert Morris, but he tore a meniscus in his knee during that contest and might miss the Wolfpack game Senior forward Tim Kamczyc is averaging 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest, and he had a career-high 21 points and five three-pointers against Bowling Green. He's cracked double figures in points in five of eight games this season. Kamczyc averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last year Sophomore wing Sebastian Douglas is averaging 8.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, while sophomore power forward Marlin Mason is averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. Mason had a season-high 17 points in a 67-55 win over Old Dominion Nov. 17 Freshman center Aaron Scales of Kernersville, N.C., played with NC State freshman shooting guard Rodney Purvis on the Chris Paul All-Stars. Scales attended High Point (N.C.) Christian and then American Basketball Institute his senior year. He originally committed to Missouri.
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