NC State seniors Richard Howell, Scott Wood and Jay Lewis, will be playing in front of Wolfpack fans at PNC Arena for the last time tonight.
The 6-foot-8, 257-pound Howell will be especially motivated to avenge the 86-84 loss at Wake Forest on Jan. 22. The Demon Deacons had a lot of different parts moving in the right direction, especially in the second half, but freshman center Devin Thomas was the catalyst.
The 6-9, 240-pound Thomas, who is the younger brother of Maryland junior star women's basketball player Alyssa Thomas, had 25 points on 10 of 13 shooting, went 5 of 11 from the free-throw line, and added 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in the win.
Howell did his part in the loss, finishing with 13 points, 16 rebounds and two blocked shots before fouling out, but the freshman left an impression on the Wolfpack program.
"Richard will have a lot of incentive for this game," NCSU coach Mark Gottfried said. "[Center] Jordan [Vandenberg] played a lot in that first game, and Devin Thomas just kept getting offensive rebounds [nine total]. He just kept getting them and scoring them. Our guys will be very tuned in when it comes to guarding him this game."
Thomas didn't play for a high-profile traveling team (Mid-Penn Motion) and didn't get invited to the top camps coming out Harrisburg (Pa.) Central Dauphin High, but had the reputation of always being productive. He averaged 23.8 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game his senior year, and finished as his schools career leader in points (1,714) and rebounds (1,100).
Rivals.com ranked Thomas a three-star prospect in the class of 2013, and he picked Wake Forest over offers from Boston College, Marquette, UMass, Penn State, Seton Hall, Temple, Virginia Tech and Temple among others.
Thomas made a good first impression Gottfried.
"Well, he's really good," Gottfried said. "Obviously he's left-handed and he was great over his right shoulder shooting the left-handed jump hook, and we gave him about six of those, so we've got to take that away. He's a good young player that is going to become one of the best interior players in this league over the next couple years.
"He's had a great freshman year, and he's big and strong. He manhandled us early. We can't let that happen again."
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik knows it won't be easy for Thomas to battle Howell and junior power forward C.J. Leslie in Raleigh, but noted that he keeps improving throughout the season, especially at the free-throw line.
"I asked him the other day about who has been the players he's really — that have been really, really tough for him, and obviously Howell's name was one of the first out of his mouth," Bzdelik said. "So he has tremendous respect for those players.
"He's worthy of all the notoriety he's getting. He's constantly getting better. He's working really hard."
Wake Forest preview
Wake Forest (12-16, 5-11 ACC) at NC State (21-8, 10-6 ACC)
Game time: Wednesday, March 6, 9 p.m. — PNC Arena in Raleigh
PG — 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr., 12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 7.0 apg, 2.0 spg)
SG — 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr., 12.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 apg)
SF — 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 224, Fr., 12.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.6 apg)
PF — 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr., 15.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.1 bpg)
C — 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr., 13.0 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.0 bpg)
PG — 0 Codi Miller-McIntyre (6-3, 195, Fr., 8.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg)
SG — 11 C.J. Harris (6-3, 190, Sr., 15.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg)
SG — 30 Travis McKie (6-7, 220, Jr., 14.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.0 bpg)
PF — 45 Arnaud Adala Moto (6-6, 225, Fr., 5.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.4 apg)
C — 2 Devin Thomas (6-9, 240, Fr., 8.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg)
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Nickname: Demon Deacons
2011-12 record: 13-18 overall, 4-12 ACC
2012 postseason: None
Coach: Jeff Bzdelik, third season at Wake Forest (33-58) and 10th season overall (144-163)
Series: NC State leads 136-100
Last meeting: Wake Forest won 86-84 on Jan. 22, 2013, in Winston-Salem
Wake Forest: Senior combo guard C.J. Harris has been consistent the last two years for the Demon Deacons and a four-year starter. He buried 5 of 5 from three-point land en route to 23 points in the 80-65 home win over Miami on Feb. 23. He also went 7 of 10 on 3-pointers for a career-high 28 points in a 71-67 loss to Seton Hall on Dec. 8. Harris has scored at least 10 points in all bout four games this season, and is shooting 40.7 percent on three-pointers … Junior small forward Travis McKie complements Harris with his inside-outside game. He has four double-doubles this season, and has topped 10 rebounds in six games. He had big games at Duke on Jan. 5 and at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19. He finished with 22 points and 11 boards in a 80-62 loss to the Blue Devils, and went 4 of 6 from three-point land for 20 points and 15 rebounds in a 66-65 loss to the Hokies. McKie has scored in double figures in all but six games … Devin Thomas' big game against NC State set the standard for him this season, but he's been productive in several other contest. Thomas has ripped down at least 11 rebounds in seven games, and has two double-doubles. He recently had 17 points and seven boards in a 67-57 home loss to Maryland last Saturday. He also had 11 points and 13 rebounds in a 87-62 loss at North Carolina on Feb. 5 … Combo guard Codi Miller-McIntyre of Concord, N.C., has scored in in double figures in eight games this season. The streaky shooter had 21 points in a 77-71 loss at Connecticut Nov. 16, and 16 points in a 66-59 win over Xavier on Jan. 2. He has matched his season-high with five assists in four games … Former NC State target Arnaud Adala Moto, who played for Team Takeover with NCSU signee BeeJay Anya, has started all but three ACC games (16 total starts). He had 13 points at UNC, and tallied nine points and 10 rebounds in the win over NC State. Moto is shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from the line … Wake Forest turns to freshmen Madison Jones (point guard), Aaron Rountree (forward) and Tyler Cavanaugh (power forward/center), and sophomore shooting guard Chase Fischer for minutes off the bench. Cavanaugh is averaging 5.2 points and 2.4 rebounds and has started six games, while Fischer is a shooter on the wing, evidenced by his 42.7 percent on three-pointes. Jones is from Raleigh and Rountree from Wilson, N.C.