The NC State men's basketball team is playing on the road for just the second time of the season tonight at Tennessee.
NC State played in front of 7,028 fans at Cincinnati, falling 68-57 on Nov. 12 in its previous road contest. The Bearcats did a good job of finishing off a close game, and limited the Wolfpack to 32.8 percent shooting from the field.
NC State has regained the services of fifth-year senior center Jordan Vandenberg, and turned the team over to freshman point guard Anthony Barber since that game.
NC State will likely play in front of a crowd that doubles the Cincinnati game. Tennessee has played four games this season at Thompson-Boling Arena, averaging 14,313 per contest. The reconfigured arena seats 21,678 and the Volunteers ranked sixth in the country last year in attendance (17,395).
"Away games were a lot more difficult than home game," Vandenberg said. "The crowd is completely against you. I played at Syracuse my sophomore year (22,334 in attendance), and we lost by five [65-59]. Away crowds get into your head, so you have to try and channel that out and focus on your game."
LSU transfer Ralston Turner sat out the Tigers' road game at Tennessee with a foot injury his freshman year. The Volunteers only played in Baton Rouge, La., in 2011-2012. NCSU teammate Trevor Lacey, an Alabama transfer, who is sitting out the season, did play at Tennessee last year, and had 13 points in a 54-53 loss.
"Tennessee has a pretty good team, we all know that," Turner said. "It's going to be tough to beat them at Tennessee, but we are up for the challenge."
"I just embrace the opportunity to play games," Turner said. "It doesn't matter if it is a SEC team or somebody else. I just enjoy playing the game."
Junior college transfer Desmond Lee has played in all kinds of gyms over the years, but playing at Cincinnati took some adjusting.
"I have even played in a YMCA for games," Lee said. "The preparation is different from being somewhere you aren't normally in. Your game and routine, you can't just go in there and get into a hot tub.
"Cincinnati was real different atmosphere to me, and to some of the guys. It was real loud. I think we adjusted to it. We'll be ready for Tennessee."
Vandenberg admitted it is fun to make the home crowd grow silent, and one former teammate made that an art form.
"It's fun to go to an away crowd and silence them," Vandenberg said. "When we had Scott Wood, that was like his specialty right there."
NC State has two remaining home games at PNC Arena and a road trip to play at UNC Greensboro on Dec. 30 to get a feel for the Greensboro Coliseum, which hosts the ACC Tournament this season.
Another by-product of playing on the road is spending more time together as a team.
"Because we are all confined in a space, even though we see each other all the time, but being confined on a plane or hotel, we bond," Vandenberg said. "We can't go out or do anything else. We just mess around and see each other in our rooms."
Vandenberg said there is nothing like playing at home at PNC Arena.
"I like the size," Vandenberg said. "It's a lot bigger, a lot louder and a lot brighter."
NC State (7-2) at Tennessee (6-3)
Game time: Wednesday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. — Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.
PG — 2 Anthony Barber (6-2, 170, Fr., 12.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.9 apg)
SG — 5 Desmond Lee (6-4, 200, Jr., 10.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg)
SF — 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 215, Soph., 23.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.7 apg, 1.7 spg)
PF — 10 Lennard Freeman (6-8, 245, Fr., 4.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 apg)
C — 14 Jordan Vandenberg (7-1, 245, 5th-Sr., 8.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 2.8 bpg)
PG — 2 Antonio Barton (6-2, 180, Sr., 7.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.8 apg)
SG — 1 Josh Richardson (6-6, 196, Jr., 7.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 apg)
SF — 52 Jordan McRae (6-6, 185, Sr., 19.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.1. bpg)
PF — 34 Jeronne Maymon (6-8, 260, R-Sr., 9.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C — 5 Jarnell Stokes (6-8, 260, Jr., 14.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.0 bpg)
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
2012-13 record: 20-13 overall and 11-7 SEC
2013 postseason: Lost 75-67 to Mercer in the first round of the NIT Tournament.
Coach: Cuonzo Martin 45-31 at Tennessee (third year) and 106-72 overall (sixth year)
Series: NC State leads series 5-3
Last meeting: NC State won 72-70 in overtime on Feb. 7, 1994, in Knoxville.
Tennessee: Tennessee has a pair of transfers, but also two highly-recruited prep players among its five starters … Junior center Jarnell Stokes enrolled midway through his senior year of high school. Rivals.com ranked the physical post player No. 11 in the class of 2012 at one point. Stokes rattled off four straight double-double games between Nov. 28 and Dec. 7, and has five on the season. He had a season-high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds in a 64-49 win against Xavier on Nov. 29, which was the second time the two teams met. Xavier won Nov. 12 in the Volunteers season opener. Stokes also had 17 points and a season-high 18 boards against South Carolina-Upstate on Nov. 16. Stokes scored in double figures in 22 games his sophomore season, and had 16 double-doubles en route to averaging 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game … Senior wing Jordan McRae played traveling team ball with former NC State point guard Ryan Harrow on the Atlanta Celtics. Rivals.com ranked him No. 47 overall in the class of 2010. McRae emerged last year to average 15.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Volunteers. He has improved his shooting percentage to 46 percent from the field, and also shoots 32.7 percent from three-point land. McRae has scored at least 20 points in five games, and had a season-high 26 against Wichita State in a 70-61 loss last Saturday. McRae had a pair of big games last year, when he had 35 and eight three-pointers at Georgia, and 34 points and he made all six three-pointers against LSU … Former Marquette transfer Jeronne Maymon starts at power forward. The Madison, Wis., native is closer to 6-6 than his listed 6-8, and Rivals.com ranked him No. 47 in the class of 2009. Maymon averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year. He had 15 points and 11 rebounds against South Carolina-Upstate and added 14 points and six boards in the second game against Xavier … Senior point guard Antonio Barton attended Memphis with his brother Will Barton. Antonio got his degree and transferred to Tennessee for this season. He averaged 5.6 points and 1.1 assists per game last year for the Tigers. He scored at least 10 points in his first three games, but also was held scoreless against Wichita State … Junior wing Josh Richardson is shooting 42.9 percent from three-point land this season, and has scored 13 points in three different games, with the most recent against Tennessee Tech on Dec. 7 … A trio of freshmen have provided athleticism off the bench. Rivals.com ranked shooting guard Robert Hubbs No. 23 in the class of 2013, power forward A.J. Davis was a three-star prospect and point guard Darius Thompson was recruited by NC State and actually committed to Vanderbilt before signing with Tennessee … The 6-6, 206-pound Hubbs averages 5.3 points in 17.9 minutes per game, and Davis averages 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game. The 6-5, 181-pound Thompson splits time with Barton and averages 4.2 points in 18.3 minutes per game. Hubbs is shooting 28 percent from three-point land and Thompson 23.1 percent. The 6-9, 212-pound Davis, who played for the same prep coach as former NCSU point guard Lorenzo Brown in Georgia, is the son of former NBA player Antonio Davis, and his twin sister plays basketball for Georgia Tech … Deep reserve Quinton Chievous is also the son of a former NBA player - Derrick Chievous, who was a star at Missouri.