2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. NC State

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Virginia Tech (14-7, 4-3 ACC) vs. NC State (12-8, 2-5)

Sunday, February 8, 2009, 1:30

TV: Raycom (affiliate
list
)


Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech returns to Cassell Coliseum on Sunday needing a win to get
their season back on track. Unfortunately the opponent is NC State, who has won
six straight games against the Hokies. The last time Tech beat the Wolfpack was
on January 19, 2005 when Jamon Gordon blocked a Julius Hodge jumper to give the
Hokies a 72-71 win. Since then, it’s been all NC State in this series.

Not only have the Hokies lost six straight to NC State, but the games haven’t
even been close. The Wolfpack have won those six meetings by an average of 13.33
points per game, and two of their wins were by 20 points or more.

Though point guard Engin Atsur and wing guard Gavin Grant are gone, three
players remain who have played a big part in knocking out the Hokies over the
past few years.


NC State Starting Lineup

Pos.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

PPG

RPG

Assists

G

Farnold Degand

6-3

185

r-Jr.

4.9

1.3

37

G

Trevor Ferguson

6-5

190

r-Jr.

5.8

1.9

29

G/F

Courtney Fells

6-6

210

Sr.

11.8

3.8

22

F

Brandon Costner

6-9

231

r-Jr.

15

6.4

50

F/C

Ben McCauley

6-9

237

Sr.

12.9

7.7

37

Courtney Fells, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley are all capable of putting up
huge numbers against Virginia Tech.

Costner is a former McDonald’s All-American who has perhaps the best outside
game of any big man in the ACC. Tech fans have seen him hit a few difficult
outside jumpers against the Hokies over the past few years. Costner is having a
good year thus far, averaging 15 points per game while shooting 48.5% from the
field and 36.6% from three-point range.

However, Costner has struggled since ACC play began. He is averaging just 4.1
rebounds per game in conference play while shooting just 42.9% from the field.
Costner has to get tougher on the inside and start playing like a true big man.

Call
Garrett Weddle at 540-320-7571 and make an appointment to see
Kent Square Condominiums when you’re in town for the game!

NC State has played better offensively in their last three games, and most of
that is because Courtney Fells is elevating his game. Fells is an athletic wing
that has developed into a good shooter over the past couple of seasons. Over his
last three games, Fells is averaging 20.3 points per game and he’s connected on
13-of-22 shots from the outside.

For the season, Fells is knocking down three-pointers at a 41.1% clip. He has
only made 30 three-pointers on the season, but 13 of those have come in his last
three games. He is getting hot at exactly the right time.

The third member of the trio is center Ben McCauley. McCauley is a skilled
player who can play with his back to the basket. He also passes the ball better
than any other big man in the ACC. NC State will often run their offense through
McCauley because they have lacked good guard play all season.



Call Garrett Weddle and make an
appointment to see Kent Square
Condominiums this weekend!

Virginia Tech struggled in the past with NC State because Engin Atsur was a
machine at point guard, and the Wolfpack had two tall, athletic wings in Gavin
Grant and Courtney Fells. Mix that in with a great passer on the inside like
McCauley, and that’s a tough matchup for Tech. Luckily for the Hokies, this year
NC State doesn’t have a point guard, and Gavin Grant is no longer on the team.

The NC State backcourt has struggled this year. Farnold Degand has started 11
of their 20 games at the point guard spot, but he was benched in their most
recent game against North Carolina Central after two turnovers and a foul in the
first three minutes. He never returned to the game. Javier Gonzalez (5-11, 172,
So.) and Julius Mays (6-2, 188, Fr.) handled the point guard duties for the rest
of the game. We could potentially see any of these players in the starting
lineup on Sunday.

Besides the lack of a point guard, NC State’s biggest problem this year has
been the lack of a consistent starting lineup. Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley
have started all 20 games. Only two other players on the roster have played in
all 20 games, and 11 different Wolfpack players have seen time in the starting
lineup this year.

ACC play has not gone well for NC State. They are 2-5 in league play, with
two narrow overtime wins against Georgia Tech and Miami. With some bad luck,
they could be 0-7 in conference play. Conversely, their five losses have not
been particularly close. All five losses have been by double figures. The
Wolfpack have been beaten by an average of 14 points in their five ACC losses.

This is not a good ACC team that the Hokies will be facing. The stats point
that out.


VT vs. NC State, ACC Games Only

Category


NC State

VT

Stat

Rank

Stat

Rank

FG%

43.30%

5

46%

1

FG% Defense

47.20%

12

43.80%

9

3-Pt.%

36.60%

4

35.40%

5

3-Pt.% Defense

38.50%

10

36.50%

8

FT%

72.40%

6

65.30%

10

Rebounding Margin

-5.4

12

-1.3

9

Turnover Margin

-2.43

11

+1.14

5

Assist/TO Ratio

0.9

6

0.9

6

Scoring Offense

68 ppg

11

73.6 ppg

5

Scoring Defense

76.9 ppg

10

74.6 ppg

8

Averages

8.7

6.6

NC State ranks 10th or worse in six of the 10 categories listed above. They are
a poor team defensively, ranking dead last in field goal percentage defense.
Virginia Tech leads the conference in field goal percentage, so on paper it
looks like the Hokies should be able to get something accomplished offensively.

There are three things NC State does poorly: they don’t defend well, they
don’t rebound well and they turn the ball over a lot. Those three things will
get you beat more times than not.

However, the Wolfpack does shoot the ball well. When they don’t turn it over,
they do a good job with their spacing and generally take good shots. Their main
problem is they don’t have as many possessions as their opponents, because they
don’t rebound well and they turn the ball over too much.

Eventually, streaks have to end. Tech matches up better with NC State this
year because the Hokies are getting better point guard play. If that holds up on
Sunday, the Hokies should have a good chance to win.

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