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March 22, 2013
NC State's Big Dance dreams begin today
DAYTON, Ohio — One-and-done. Temple knows that's become its reputation when it comes to the NCAA tournament, leaving the Owls with an overriding goal for their trip to Dayton.
They want to leave town with no clean clothes after a weekend-long stay.
The ninth-seeded Owls (23-9) are in the tournament for the sixth straight season. In four of the last five, they were knocked out in their opening game, including a 58-44 loss to South Florida last year when they had a No. 5 seed.
They'll play eighth-seeded North Carolina State (24-10) today, knowing their reputation will be up in the air along with the opening tip.
One-and-done? Or something more?
"We've got a little chip on our shoulder this year," senior guard Khalif Wyatt said. "We want to prove that we can belong here and that we can make a run at this thing."
The school with a rich basketball tradition hasn't made a deep run in the tournament since 2001, when the Owls reached the Elite Eight. There was a seven-year gap before they reappeared at the tournament, albeit in those cameo appearances.
They lost their opening games in 2008, 2009 and 2010. They beat Penn State in 2011, finally ending coach Fran Dunphy's record of 11 straight NCAA tournament losses — and those "One-and-Dunphy" headlines — before falling to San Diego State in double overtime.
Last year, they headed back to Philadelphia again after just 40 minutes on court. Given their expectations and their No. 5 seed, that one really hurt. And the Owls know a lot of folks filling out their brackets this year are expecting another fizzle.
"We've been here six straight years, and we only won one first-round game," Wyatt said. "So the fact that people pick NC State is not a surprise. But that's just added motivation for us and a chance for us to go out there and prove some people wrong."
The Owls got a bit of good news leading up to the game. Six-foot-nine forward Anthony Lee — their top rebounder — is expected to play after getting checked out for a possible concussion after Temple's loss in the Atlantic 10 tournament. He's desperately needed against the Wolfpack's bigger front line.
"He looks pretty good right now," Dunphy said. "He practiced a little bit yesterday. We'll do a little bit more today, and doctors are hopeful.
"We're planning on Anthony playing. How much? I don't know. He hasn't played. He hasn't run that much over the last week, so there's a question there."
Even if he plays, the Wolfpack will be looking to get the ball inside in a game that well could come down to which team is better up-front. Lee is the only Temple starter who is taller than 6-foot-6.
"I think it's real big for us to take advantage of that," 6-foot-8 forward Richard Howell said. "They definitely lack in size, and that's something we want to use to our advantage."
NC State also wants to push the pace and pressure Temple's guards, who were behind the Owls' late-season surge of seven straight wins. Six-foot-4 guard Khalif Wyatt was the Atlantic 10's player of the year after leading the league with 19.8 points per game.
"He's very crafty when he's dribbling the ball," Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie said. "He's one of the craftiest guys I've seen this year."
The Wolfpack hasn't been to the tournament as often as Temple lately, but they've shown some staying power when they made it. NC State made the tournament six times previously since 2002, winning at least one game in five of those appearances.
Last year, they beat San Diego State and Georgetown in nearby Columbus, Ohio to reach the round of 16, where they lost to Kansas 60-57.
NC State's reference point for this year's appearance goes back much farther. It's the 30-year anniversary of its national title under coach Jim Valvano, and that clip of the coach joyously running around the court has been replayed a lot.
"There's so much tradition and history and so much reference regularly around our school to 1983," coach Mark Gottfried said. "So our guys know about it. They watched the (television) show (about it). But I think they're interested in making their own history.
"They tasted it last year a little bit. They wanted to do something special. So they're certainly aware of that, but I think they're interested in trying to make their own mark right now."
NC State 2011-12 roster
NC State schedule/results
NC State season stats
Temple season stats
No. 8 seed NC State (24-10) vs. No. 9 seed Temple (23-9)
Game time: Friday, March 22, 1:40 p.m. — Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio
PG — 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr., 12.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 7.2 apg, 2.0 spg)
SG — 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr., 12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
SF — 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 224, Fr., 12.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.8 apg) 1.1 spg)
PF — 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.2 bpg)
C — 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr., 12.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg)
PG — 1 Khalif Wyatt (6-4, 215, Sr., 19.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.7 spg)
PG — 2 Will Cummings (6-2, 175, Soph., 6.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg)
SF — 33 Scootie Randall (6-6, 225, R-Sr., 11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg)
PF — 32 Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (6-6, 215, Sr., 8.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.8 spg, 1.0 bpg)
C — Anthony Lee (6-9, 230, Soph., 10.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 0.8 bpg)
2011-12 record: 24-8
2012 postseason: South Florida won 58-44 on March 16, 2012, in first game of NCAA Tournament
Coach: Fran Dunphy 467-237 overall (24th year) and 157-74 at Temple (7th year)
Series: NC State leads 6-1
Last meeting: Temple won 76-54 on Feb. 15, 2003, in Philadelphia
Temple: Temple went 11-5 in the Atlantic 10, good for third place, but fell 79-74 to UMass in the quarterfinals of the league tournament March 15 Head coach Fran Dunphy has taken Temple to the NCAA Tournament six of the last seven years, and he has made 15 trips to the tourney (including this season) between his years at Pennsylvania and Temple (2-14 record) Senior guard Khalif Wyatt was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year after averaging 19.8 points and 4.1 assists per game this season. The 6-4, 215-pounder has started the last two years for the Owls, but has been a double-digit scorer for three full years. Wyatt scored a career-high 35 points (15 of 15 at the free throw line) in an 84-83 loss to Duquesne Feb. 14. He tallied 30-plus points in five games, including 33 at Syracuse in an 83-79 win Dec. 22. He went 7 of 14 from three-point land en route to 34 points in a 70-69 loss at St. Joseph's Feb. 2. He dished out at least six assists in eight games, and had one double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds in a 74-55 victory at Fordham March 6 Senior wing Scootie Randall, who is 6-6 and 225 pounds, missed last year with a knee injury. He has been on fire from three-point range over his last 14 games, shooting 39.0 percent (30 of 77). However, he's shooting 30.8 percent on three-pointers for the season. He has made at least three three-pointers in 11 games, including going 5 of 12 en route to a season-high 31 points in an 80-66 win at Kent State Nov. 13. Randall tallied four double-doubles for points and rebounds, and enters the NCAA Tournament with nine straight games with at least 11 points Boston University graduate transfer Jake O'Brien has been a great addition to the Owls' frontcourt. The 6-9, 220-pound center has started only six games, but plays starter's minutes. He has scored at least 10 points in nine of the last 11 games, with the Owls losing the two games when he scored seven points. O'Brien is shooting 42.9 percent on three-pointers, including going 5 of 8 from beyond the arc en route to 19 points in Temple's 84-76 win over VCU March 10. He averaged in double figures his first three years at Boston U., and then missed last year due to injury and transferred Sophomore Anthony Lee starts ahead of O'Brien at center, and the duo rotates with senior power forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson inside. The 6-9, 230-pound Lee is averaging 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.6 percent from the field. He has started in all but two games this season, but missed the 76-70 win over Rhode Island March 2 due to injury. Lee had 21 points and nine rebounds in the Syracuse win, and posted 20 points and 10 boards in the 64-54 win over Saint Louis Jan. 12. He has four double-doubles on the season with his most recent at Fordham March 6, when he had 12 points and 10 rebounds The 6-6, 215-pound Hollis-Jefferson averages 8.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 block per game. He has started the last two years and ended his sophomore season in the lineup. Hollis-Jefferson has three double-doubles, including exploding for 23 points and 18 rebounds in an 84-74 win over La Salle Feb. 21. He also had 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the Atlantic 10 Tournament loss to UMass Sophomore point guard Will Cummings rounds out the starting unit and complements Wyatt. The speedy 6-2, 175-pound Cummings is averaging 6.1 points and 2.0 assists per game this season. Cummings had 15 points against Rhode Island March 15, and 13 points and five assists in the win over VCU March 10.
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