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February 20, 2012

NC State regroups following FSU loss



The NC State basketball team wasn't even allowed to touch a basketball Sunday following the 76-62 loss to No. 20-ranked Florida State the previous day.

NC State's offense came unglued against the bigger, more physical FSU squad, which rotated 11 players throughout the game. The Wolfpack finished shooting 29.3 percent from the field, and that was only because sophomore power forward C.J. Leslie went 8 of 14 for 21 points.

Gottfried made sure the players took some time off to get refreshed for Tuesday's impending game against No. 8-ranked North Carolina at the RBC Center. The Tar Heels cap a difficult three games in six days stretch against three top 25 programs. NC State also played No. 5-ranked Duke last Thursday.

"I took the balls and locked them up Sunday night," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "I told them that nobody can get the balls on Sunday."

NC State is seeking a statement win against UNC to improve its NCAA Tournament chances.

"Our players felt bad with how they played against Florida State," Gottfried said. "We watched film yesterday and talked about a lot of things. I think our guys will be very excited with a lot of energy Tuesday."

Gottfried didn't expect to have a hard practice Monday in response to the recent struggles. The Wolfpack have been outscored 124-89 over the last 60 minutes of action against Duke and Florida State.

"You get to late February and the dye is cast with your team," Gottfried said. "We are who we are and we have to be better in certain areas. We have to improve on certain things. My mindset today is more on teaching and getting them prepared for North Carolina."

Gottfried also said they'll consider ways of getting junior small forward Scott Wood some added rest. The 6-foot-6, 175-pounder is a combined 5 of 27 from the field and 4 of 18 from three-point line over his last three games (he averaged 37.3 minutes per game).

"I think I've played him a few minutes too many," Gottfried said "I don't know if it is that much. My observation is that 38-39 minutes is probably too many. That doesn't mean it has to be 28-29 minutes. He looks fatigued shooting the ball."

NC State entered the last meeting full of hope of giving UNC a battle in Chapel Hill on Jan. 26. The Tar Heels dashed those thoughts quickly with a dominating performance en route to a 74-55 victory.

The one-two inside punch of junior John Henson and senior Tyler Zeller combined for 30 points, 27 rebounds and six blocked shots. Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall made sure the offense ran smoothly with 11 assists and seven points.

Battling the 6-11 Henson and 7-0 Zeller will be another challenge Tuesday for the undersized Wolfpack frontcourt.

"We are not a team that has a front line of 6-11 and 7-0," Gottfried said. "We are not that team. We are smaller. We have to be more creative, smarter and better offensively when we have the ball around the basket. We have to use our quickness and try to find ways to score.

"My opinion is that you have to find a way to keep them off the backboard. Sometimes their best offense is a missed shot."

Junior center Richard Howell and Leslie are both listed at 6-8, but are likely an inch shorter in reality.

"We can still score around the basket without getting our shot blocked over and over again," Gottfried said.

Gottfried knows the RBC Center will be in a frenzy at tip-off Tuesday night, especially with the 1989 team getting honored before the game. Having referee Karl Hess eject Wolfpack legends Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta last Saturday has nearly overshadowed the impending rivalry game. Gottfried pointed out how it is good to have such "passionate" fans as Corchiani and Gugliotta.

Gottfried knows what a mean over UNC would mean to the school, program and fan base.

"It would be huge, and I'm not sure you can define how big it would be," Gottfried said. "With where their program is, and where ours is, and where we are hoping to go one day, so it would be huge."

Mark Gottfried audio press conference (13:45)



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