NC State (16-8) at (1) Syracuse (24-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 3 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (33,000) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: NC State 12-4, Syracuse 15-0. Away Record: NC State 4-4, Syracuse 6-0. Neutral Record: NC State 0-0, Syracuse 3-0. Conference Record: NC State 6-5, Syracuse 11-0. Series Record: Syracuse leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: The top-ranked Syracuse Orange continue their push towards perfection, as they welcome the NC State Wolfpack to the Carrier Dome for an ACC showdown on Saturday afternoon.
Off to the best start in school history, Jim Boeheim's Orange have won games this year in just about every way imaginable. Last time out, it was a thrilling, buzzer beater from freshman Tyler Ennis just inside half-court that proved to be the game-winner, a 58-56 road victory at Pittsburgh which kept Syracuse unbeaten at 24-0, including an 11-0 mark in the ACC. The 24 straight wins represent the longest win streak in school history.
Mark Gottlieb's Wolfpack aren't quite at the level of the Orange this season, but NC State has played well for the most part, sporting a 16-8 overall mark. The Wolfpack have won two straight games and five of the their last six overall to move to 6-5 in the ACC. NC State blew out Wake Forest this week in their last outing, 82-67 at PNC Arena.
The Orange have won four of the previous five meetings with the Wolfpack. Syracuse was also ranked No. 1 in the nation the last time these two squads met in 2011.
T.J. Warren is playing at an All-American level this season as one of the premier performers in the ACC. His talent was on full display in the rout of the Demon Deacons last time out, as he finished with a career-high 34 points, grabbing 10 rebounds as well to complete his seventh double-double on the campaign. Ralston Turner poured in 16 points, while Anthony Barber finished with 10.
Warren is the straw that stirs the drink in Raleigh, as the 6-foot-8 sophomore leads the conference and is among the nation's top scorers at a hefty 23.1 ppg, doing so on a healthy .521 shooting. Warren also finds time to lead NC State in both rebounding (7.4 rpg) and steals (36) on the year. Scoring depth on the team comes in the form of Barber (10.3 ppg), Turner (10.3 ppg) and Desmond Lee (10.0 ppg).
Syracuse's flawless season was in real jeopardy, as Pittsburgh led 54-48 with under two minutes to play, but the Orange battled back and were within one point with four seconds remaining. Ennis took the inbounds pass, dribbled down the court and launched the decisive basket from near half-court, sending the Panthers off the floor shocked at what just transpired. Syracuse was beaten on the boards, getting outrebounded 35-24, but got double-digit scoring from three players. C.J. Fair led the way with 14 points. Ennis and Trevor Cooney chipped in with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Winning with defense has been the mantra for Syracuse this season. The Orange rank among the nation's best in scoring defense (58.3 ppg), limiting foes to just 40.5 percent shooting. In addition, the team boasts of positives in both rebounding (+4.4) and turnover (+4.8) margins. Offensively, the Orange put up just over 70 points per game, but it comes from a variety of sources. Four of the team's five starters average double figures, led by Fair's 16.7 ppg. Cooney is the resident sniper at 13.9 ppg thanks in large part to his 74 3- pointers to date. Jerami Grant adds frontcourt depth at 12.5 ppg, while Ennis runs the point as an effective scorer ((11.9 ppg) and distributor (5.6 apg).
Warren is an electric performer that is certainly in consideration for ACC Player of the Year, but this game will come down to defense and Syracuse, especially at home, has a big advantage in that regard.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 67, NC State 59
02/15 10:17:15 ET