NC State redshirt junior power forward Brandon Costner and Duke sophomore power forward Kyle Singler are two of the best power forwards in the ACC, thanks to their inside-outside styles and ability to stretch defenses out to three-point range.
Costner and Singler are expected to battle each other tonight with NC State playing at No. 2-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game will be televised on Raycom.
The statistics for the two players are nearly mirror each other this season.
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Singler is averaging 16.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, and has hit a three-pointer in every game but two this year.
The 6-9, 231-pound Costner is averaging 14.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, in his bounce-back season after struggling last year. Costner has failed to hit a three-pointer in three games this season.
Singler is shooting 46.7 percent from the field, 32.5 from three-point range and 70.1 from the free-throw line.
Costner is shooting even better at 47.6 percent from the field, 36.7 on three-pointers and 75.6 percent on free throws. Singler shoots more field-goal attempts and three-pointers, while Costner gets to the foul line a smidge more.
"I think Brandon gets excited to play against good players," NC State coach Sidney Lowe said. "You look forward to that challenge. You challenge yourself against that guy. I'm sure in Brandon's mind, and we haven't talked about it, he's thinking about that, as Singler is thinking about playing Costner. I think it's a great matchup."
The lone difference between the two might be Singler's consistency. Xavier is the only game he hasn't scored in double figures, getting nine vs. the Musketeers, and he has played particularly well of late. Singler had 19 points and 14 rebounds against Georgia Tech on Jan. 14, and 15 points and 16 boards vs. Georgetown last Saturday.
Singler also had 20 points and 12 boards against Purdue on Dec. 2, and flirted with triple-doubles in the loss to Michigan and the win over Virginia Tech. He had 15 points, 10 boards and seven assists against the Wolverines and 19 points, eight boards and seven assists vs. the Hokies.
"Obviously he has the ability to shoot the ball from the three at his size, and also he can put it on the floor," Lowe said. "He's a good passer, so you got to play him tough. You can't give him anything. You have to be on him. He's a very good basketball player, and he can hurt you inside, outside. I think we have a guy similar to that, just hopefully we can play better."
Singler is also forced to play center at times, and could end up guarding NC State center Ben McCauley at different points tonight.
"We know he is going to be on the boards, making passes," Lowe said. "He does a good job of setting his man up, real nice job of setting his guy up to get shots. He stretches a defense."
Costner has had some of his biggest games when the lights are brightest. He scored 24 points in three different games — East Carolina, Marquette and Florida — and had 22 vs. Georgia Tech and 18 against Davidson.
Costner had 17 rebounds against East Carolina and 11 vs. Davidson, and even dished out a career-high 10 assists against Towson. His best shooting game was against Marquette, when he went 9 of 10 from the field, including 5 of 5 on three-pointers. He also went 9 of 11 against Florida.
NC State (10-5, 1-2 ACC) at No. 2 Duke (16-1, 3-0 ACC)
Game time: Today, Jan. 20, 8 p.m. — RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.
PG — 24 Julius Mays (6-2, Fr., 4.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.9 apg) or 12 Farnold Degand (6-3, R-Jr., 4.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SG — 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, Fr., 2.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.7 apg) or 15 Trevor Ferguson (6-5, R-Jr., 7.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.2 apg)
SF —4 Courtney Fells (6-6, Sr., 10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.9 apg)
PF — 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, R-Jr., 14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.1 bpg)
C — 34 Ben McCauley (6-9, Sr., 12.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 spg)
PG — 2 Nolan Smith (6-2, Soph., 10.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.2 spg)
SG — 30 Jon Scheyer (6-5, Jr., 13.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.8 spg)
SF — 15 Gerald Henderson Jr. (6-4, Jr., 14.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.0 bpg)
PF — 12 Kyle Singler (6-8, Soph., 16.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.8 spg)
C — 55 Brian Zoubek (7-1, Jr., 6.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.6 apg, 1.0 bpg)
Location: Durham, N.C.
Nickname: Blue Devils
2007-08 record: 28-6 overall and 13-3 in the ACC (2nd place)
2008 postseason: Lost 73-67 to West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 33rd season overall (819-268) and 28th season at Duke (746-209)
The all-time series with NC State: Duke leads 134-96
Last meeting: Duke won 87-86 on March 1, 2008, in Raleigh
Duke: Henderson has reached double figures in scoring in each of the last nine games, averaging 17.3 points per contest … The Blue Devils are one of three ACC teams to have three players in the top 20 in the league in scoring with Henderson, Singler and Scheyer. Singler is ninth (16.8 ppg), Henderson 17th (14.0) and Scheyer is 18th (13.8) … Point guard Smith is 40 of 43 from the free-throw line for 93.0 percent … Duke has trailed in the second half just twice this season — against Michigan and Rhode Island … Singler had 16 rebounds against Georgetown and 14 against Georgia Tech, the last two games for Duke … Scheyer has 10 assists and one turnover in his last two games.
NC State: The Wolfpack have lost 11 straight and 17 of the last 18 at Cameron Indoor Stadium … NC State has committed 18.5 turnovers per game over the last four, but 12.5 in the first 11 games of the season … Lowe is 5-11 against ranked teams in his three seasons coaching the Wolfpack, and the game marks the 73rd time they have faced a top-10 Duke team … McCauley leads NC State with 60 deflections, Costner with four charges and Fells with 10 dunks … Costner scored in double figures in 12 games last year, but already has done it 11 times this season … Sophomore backup center Tracy Smith scored a career-high 31 points against Towson on Dec. 31, but has netted 12 points on 5 of 15 shooting in the four games since.