(25) NC State (4-2) vs. Connecticut (6-1)
Tuesday, December 4, 9:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN. Home Record: NC State 2-0, UConn 3-0. Away Record: NC State 0-1, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: NC State 2-1, UConn 3-1. Conference Record: NC State 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: The NC State Wolfpack and Connecticut Huskies will close out play in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday evening at Madison Square Garden.
Connecticut has gotten off to a fast start under first-year head coach Kevin Ollie. The Huskies have won six of their first seven games with the lone loss coming against New Mexico in the Paradise Jam Tournament title game (66-60). UConn has bounced back with back-to-back home wins over Stony Brook (73-62) and New Hampshire (61-53). UConn is making its first-ever appearance in this event. Jim Valvano was an assistant at Connecticut (1970-71).
NC State is obviously closely tied to the late Valvano, its head coach from 1981-90. Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack entered the 2012-13 season with a great deal of hype. The team has not exactly lived up to all the talk though, with a 4-2 record in the early going. The team has lost two of its last three games after three straight wins to open the year, including a 79-72 road loss at No. 3 Michigan last week in ACC/Big Ten Challenge action.
This is the fifth meeting between these two teams, with the series knotted at 2-2.
Although the Wolfpack dropped a seven-point loss to the Wolverines, NC State needed a 10-0 run late in the second half to make it look closer than it really was. NC State lost the game despite shooting a scorching 57.1 percent from the floor and four of the five starters finishing in the double figures. T.J. Warren led the way in defeat with 18 points. C.J. Leslie followed with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Richard Howell and Scott Wood checked in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Point guard Lorenzo Brown scored just six points, but did dole out a team-high 10 assists.
One of the nation's top offensive teams in the nation, NC State is averaging 78.8 ppg, while ranking third nationally in field goal percentage at .525. The scoring pool is very deep in Raleigh, with six players currently averaging double figures. Warren leads the way with 15.3 ppg. Howell is a close second (14.2 ppg), while pacing the team in rebounding (7.8 rpg). Leslie (11.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is also a dominant frontcourt performer, while Wood (10.5 ppg), Brown (10.5 ppg. 7.0 apg) and Rodney Purvis (10.0 ppg) complete the scoring deluge.
The Huskies aren't as offensively potent as NC State at a modest 70.4 ppg, but UConn does possess a dynamic scorer in Shabazz Napier. The sophomore guard is shooting only .433 from the floor, but is still putting up a hefty 18.6 ppg. Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun add to the backcourt depth with 13.7 and 10.9 ppg, respectively. DeAndre Daniels (8.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is the top performer in the frontcourt.
Boatright led the way in the win over New Hampshire last week, netting 19 points, shooting 5-of-10 from the floor and 9-of-11 from the free-throw line. Calhoun poured in 16 points, while Daniels finished with seven points and 10 rebounds. Napier didn't have a great game though, hitting just 2-of-9 shots from the field and finishing the game with a mere five points.
NC State will start playing up to its potential at some point this season. UConn won't make it easy on the Wolfpack, but on the big stage on Tuesday, expect NC State's depth to be the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 74, Connecticut 71
12/04 21:18:24 ET