Improved point guard play has Lowe happy

Redshirt junior Farnold Degand has been on a roller coaster ride with the last two games some of his best efforts of the season.
Degand scored 10 points, dished out seven assists and only had two turnovers in his homecoming game at Boston College, a 79-68 loss Jan. 24. He followed up with seven points, seven assists and two turnovers in the 84-81 overtime victory against Miami.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder is averaging just 4.9 points, 2.5 assists and 2.1 turnovers per game this season, but his play of late gives hope that the Wolfpack's offense will be properly executed.
"I think Farnold has been more under control, not trying to force the issue," NC State coach Sidney Lowe said. "Not trying to make the big play. He's been doing that in practice, just making the simple play."
Degand might be a senior academically, but has never played against North Carolina. He'll get perhaps his stiffest challenge of the season at 3:30 p.m. today at the RBC Center against junior point guard Ty Lawson and the Tar Heels.
Degand missed the two matchups last year after going down with a season-ending knee injury Dec. 23, 2007. He didn't play his first two years of college after redshirting at Iowa State his freshman year, and then having to sit out a season when he transferred to NC State.
Lowe said he doesn't need a point guard who turns the ball over just as often as he scores, and believes that Degand has seen the impact he can have on a game with his last two efforts.
"I think he also saw the results when he had seven assists and two turnovers with the seven points [vs. Boston College]," Lowe said. "The positive feedback that he received from that, and then he came back and did it again. Hopefully, he is starting to get that, playing that position is different."
Then freshman Javier Gonzalez started both games against UNC last year, struggling in the first game mightily, but then having six points, nine assists and three turnovers in 30 minutes against the Lawson-less Tar Heels in a 84-70 loss at the RBC Center. Quinton Thomas started in place of the injured Lawson, scoring 10 points and having seven assists.
Lawson went 4 of 6 from three-point land for 16 points in 27 minutes in UNC's 93-62 win in the first meeting in Chapel Hill.
The speedy Lawson is averaging career-highs with 15.2 points and 6.6 assists per game, and has lowered his turnovers per game to 1.8, the lowest of his three-year career. Lawson hit the game-winning three-pointer in Wednesday's 80-77 victory over Florida State
FSU's Toney Douglas scored 32 points in the loss, a recent trend against Lawson and the Tar Heels' perimeter defense. Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague poured in 34 points and Boston College point guard Tyrese Rice had 25 points with both teams winning against UNC.
Degand won't be asked to score a lot of points, but Lowe does want him to play under control and not get caught up with the speed of Lawson.
"We got some film and things that we'll watch, just with the point guards," said Lowe about the matchup with Lawson. "Certainly, you can see that happening. Farnold certainly relies on his speed. His last two ball games, he's been much more under control.
"Lawson is pretty good and he does it against the best of them. He does that to help them win. If he doesn't play that well, he isn't as effective."
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North Carolina season stats
Game facts
No. 5 North Carolina (18-2, 4-2 ACC) at NC State (11-7, 2-4 ACC)
Game time: Today, Jan. 31, 3:30 p.m. — RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
Television: ABC
Probable starters
NC State
PG — 12 Farnold Degand (6-3, R-Jr., 4.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SG —4 Courtney Fells (6-6, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 apg)
SF — 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, Soph., 8.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.4 apg)
PF — 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, R-Jr., 14.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.1 bpg)
C — 34 Ben McCauley (6-9, Sr., 13.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 spg)
North Carolina
PG — 5 Ty Lawson (5-11, Jr., 15.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 6.6 apg, 2.2 spg)
SG — 22 Wayne Ellington (6-4, Jr., 14.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.3 spg)
SF — 14 Danny Green (6-6, Sr., 13.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.0 bpg, 1.6 bpg)
PF — 21 Deon Thompson (6-8, Jr., 12.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 0.6 apg, 1.2 bpg)
C — 50 Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, Sr., 21.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 0.6 apg)
Scouting North Carolina
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
Nickname: Tar Heels
2007-08 record: 36-3 overall, 14-2 ACC (first)
2008 postseason: Lost 84-66 to Kansas in the semifinals of the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament
Coach: Roy Williams, 21st season overall (578-136) and 6th season at North Carolina (160-35)
The all-time series with NC State: UNC leads 138-75
Last meeting: North Carolina won 84-70 on Feb. 20, 2008, in Raleigh, N.C.
North Carolina: Hansbrough snapped a streak of 55 consecutive games in double digits when he scored eight points on 4 of 9 shooting against Florida State on Jan. 28. The last time he scored in single digits was the second-to-last game of his sophomore season when he tallied five against USC in the NCAA Tournament, going 1 of 6 from the field and 3 of 4 at the line … Hansbrough is averaging 9.5 free-throw attempts this season, and 8.9 for his career. He is shooting 84.2 percent from the line this season … UNC features three scholarship players from North Carolina in reserves Will Graves of Greensboro, Winston-Salem's Mike Copeland and Durham's Justin Watts … Senior wing Marcus Ginyard has played in only three games due to surgery on his left foot last Oct., and hasn't played since the Boston College game Jan. 4. He averaged 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last year …
NC State: McCauley scored 12 points to reach 1,000 for his career, becoming the 42nd player in NC State history to reach the milestone. McCauley and Costner are the eighth and ninth players in school history to record 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds and 150 assists … Fells is 69 points away from reaching 1,000 points in his career … NCSU has averaged 10 turnovers per game the last two games … The Wolfpack have won the rebounding battle in 13 of 18 games this season … NC State has defeated a ranked North Carolina 31 times, the most of any other ranked foe in school history … This weekend is the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers awareness, with the Wolfpack coaches wearing sneakers to show support for the program … Fells scored a career-high 24 points thanks a career-best six three-pointers in the overtime win over Miami. The six three-pointers were the most for a Wolfpack player since Scooter Sherrill had six against Gonzaga in the 2002-03 season. Prior to the Miami game, Fells had missed 15 straight three-point attempts and was 3 of 21 in the fist five ACC games.