Cleveland State (6-2) at (25) NC State (5-2)
Saturday, December 8, 1 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reynolds Coliseum (14,000) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com, CSN-BAL. Home Record: CSU 3-0, NC State 2-0. Away Record: CSU 0-2, NC State 0-1. Neutral Record: CSU 3-0, NC State 3-1. Conference Record: CSU 0-0, NC State 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 25th-ranked NC State Wolfpack begin a season-long, six-game home stand on Saturday afternoon, as they entertain the Cleveland State Vikings in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
Cleveland State has gotten off to a fast start this season, and its win last Saturday at home versus Toledo (78-73) moved it to 6-2 on the year. The bad news for the Vikings in this matchup is that they have yet to win a game on the road, dropping contests at Michigan (77-47) and Robert Morris (71-62).
NC State was able to rise as high as No. 6 in the national rankings after a 3-0 start, but following losses against Oklahoma State (76-56) and Michigan (79-72), it has tumbled all the way to No. 25. The Wolfpack got back on the winning track on Tuesday night by defeating UConn on a neutral floor, 69-65.
Cleveland State has been fairly average at the offensive end this season, connecting on 44.4 percent of its field goal attempts for just over 70 ppg, but it is coming off one of its best performances of the year in the win over Toledo. The Vikings shot 52.9 percent from the floor in the victory (including 12-of-24 from three-point range), paced by 22 points from Charlie Lee, who drained 4-of-6 from three-point range and added a team-high seven assists as well. Bryn Forbes netted 16 points off the bench, Tim Kamczyc had 15 points, and Sebastian Douglas finished with 10 points and five steals. The balanced effort was no accident by the Vikings, as six different players average at least 8.5 ppg on the season. Lee paces the squad in both scoring (15.8 ppg) and assists (5.8), and he also drains half of his three-point attempts (19- of-38). Anton Grady (13.7 ppg), Kamczyc (11.3 ppg), and Marlin Mason (8.5 ppg) each grab 5.0 rpg or more.
In a back-and-forth contest against UConn the last time out, NC State was able to pull away in the game's final five minutes to escape with a four-point victory. It shot 47.3 percent in the game, and it was lifted to victory by an impressive performance from C.J. Leslie, who tallied a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds while also adding four assists, a block, and a steal. Lorenzo Brown also scored 16 points and handed out five assists, while Scott Wood and Richard Howell (10 rebounds) put up 13 points apiece. NC State has been fantastic at the offensive end through seven games, shooting 51.8 percent from the floor (fourth in the nation) for 77.4 ppg. It is one of the few teams in the country that has all five starters averaging double digits in the scoring column. Howell (14.0 ppg) and Leslie (12.3 ppg) each grab at least eight boards per contest, while the former shoots an astounding 69 percent from the field. Brown (11.3 ppg) hands out 5.9 apg. T.J. Warren (13.4 ppg) and Wood (10.9 ppg) round out the potent lineup, with Rodney Purvis just missing the double-digit cut with 9.6 ppg on 55.6 percent accuracy from three-point range.
Cleveland State has a similar balanced scoring attack as the Wolfpack, which could cause some problems, but its scorers aren't nearly as potent as what NC State has to offer, and in Raleigh, it should have no problem starting its home stand off on the right foot.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 81, Cleveland State 67
12/08 10:35:24 ET