NC State (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 12, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Fifth Third Arena (13,176) -- Cincinnati, Ohio. Television: ESPN. Home Record: NC State 1-0, Cincinnati 1-0. Away Record: NC State 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Neutral Record: NC State 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Conference Record: NC State 0-0, Cincinnati 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: Sean Kilpatrick and the Cincinnati Bearcats will bring in an ACC foe to Firth Third Arena on Tuesday when the NC State Wolfpack come to town for a non-league clash.
In the season opener the Wolfpack easily handed Appalachian State a 98-77 defeat behind a 27-point effort from T.J. Warren. The Wolfpack did not seem to miss a beat from last season, when they led the ACC in scoring (77.4 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.496) even though contributors like C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown moved on in the offseason. The loss of personnel in the offseason were major for the Wolfpack, who are going after their third- straight NCAA Tournament in as many years under head coach Mark Gottfried.
Cincinnati is in the midst of a season-long homestand as it plays the first six games of the year at Fifth Third Arena. The first of the campaign came against another team from the Tar Heel State, as the Bearcats posted a 74-61 victory over North Carolina Central. The Bearcats could have had a much larger margin of victory but inconsistent shooting plagued them down the stretch, though Kilpatrick was effective as he poured in a team-high 22 points. Cincinnati is trying to push its streak of NCAA Tournament appearances to four this year.
Though both of these teams hail from major conferences, they have never battled it out on the hardwood.
Gottfried has really instilled a culture of offensive efficiency at NC State and that continued in the season opener. The Wolfpack connected on 61.9 percent of their shots, including a solid 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. Warren was the major contributor as he dropped in a career-high in points on 13-of-20 shooting. Warren is the only double-figure scorer from last year's team that is still on the roster and his offensive prowess will be needed as the Wolfpack try to find an identity. Another promising effort for the Wolfpack in the win came from Desmond Lee, who scored 24 points. Lee is a junior college transfer, who was a big time scorer at New Mexico Junior College. Lee certainly brought that offensive firepower over in his first game for NC State. Tyler Lewis (15 points, six assists) also performed well as he moved into the starting point guard role to replace Brown.
Even without backcourt partners Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker, who both graduated, Kilpatrick was still able to play at an exception level against NC Central. Kilpatrick knocked down 6-of-13 field goal attempts and also got himself to the line (8-of-9) often as he began the year on a high note. Kilpatrick also displayed his versatility by pulling down seven rebounds and handing out seven assists. Titus Rubles (13 points, eight rebounds) proved that he could handle being the main threat in the post, though his shot was a bit errant (3-of-7). Errant shots were a theme all last year for the Bearcats, as the team shot at just 40.3 percent from the floor. Those struggles didn't look to be fixed with the roster turnover as the Bearcats hit just 39.3 percent of their shots against NC Central.
Warren and Lewis performed so well in the opener that it looks like the Wolfpack may be able to deal with the loss of Leslie and Brown. However, Kilpatrick is a difficult guard to slow down due to his size and tenacity. NC State doesn't have an answer for either and will have trouble on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cincinnati 68, NC State 65
11/12 10:35:59 ET