2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: NC State at Virginia Tech

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(home games)
  • Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2010
  • Time: 7pm
  • TV: No TV



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Virginia Tech returns to Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night badly in need of
a win. They’ll face the NC State Wolfpack, a team that has had some huge wins
this year, but still ranks at the bottom of the ACC standings. The Hokies need
this win if they want to make the NCAA tournament.

Tech and NC State have already met once this season. The Hokies traveled to
Raleigh and made mincemeat out of the Wolfpack, blowing them out 72-52 on their
own court. It was never close, and it was probably Virginia Tech’s most complete
basketball game of the season.

VT
vs. NC State
First Meeting (2/10/10)
Cat. VT NC
State

Points
72 52

FG%
52.9% 28.6%

3Pt.%
42.9% 0%

Assists
13 7

Blocks
12 5

The Hokies trounced the Wolfpack in that game in most statistical categories. It
was the first time since 1989 that NC State failed to hit a three-pointer in a
game.

However, Sidney Lowe’s team has been playing better recently. After losing
seven straight ACC games between January 23 and February 17, the Wolfpack have
rallied to win their last two. They blew out Wake Forest 68-54 at home, and then
defeated Miami 71-66 in Coral Gables over the weekend. Miami has only lost three
home games this year, one of them to the Wolfpack.

Despite their record, this is a capable team. Besides whipping Wake Forest,
NC State also blew out Duke 88-74. Those two wins were at home, however. The
Wolfpack hasn’t won a game on the road in a decent atmosphere this season, with
road wins over FSU and Miami coming in two of the ACC’s least intimidating
venues.

NC
State Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G
Javier Gonzalez
6-0 175 Jr. 10 3.3
G
Farnold Degand
6-4 170 Sr. 6.1 2.5
F
Scott Wood
6-7 170 Fr. 7.9 2.9
F
Dennis Horner
6-9 226 Sr. 11.8 4.8
F
Tracy Smith
6-8 247 Jr. 17.1 7.9

The strength of this NC State team is in their talented frontcourt. Tracy Smith
is having an outstanding season, and could be a Preseason First Team All-ACC
performer heading into next season. He finishes very well on the inside. He has
a big body, and he knows how to use it to score the basketball.

The Hokies held Smith to 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5 turnovers in the first
meeting. Jeff Allen outplayed him, scoring 14 points and grabbing 8 rebounds to
go along with four blocks and a steal. Tech will need the same type of effort
against Smith in this game.

Dennis Horner is a capable power forward who has good range on his shot. He
has developed more of an inside game this year, and is a more complete player as
a result. He has also improved his rebounding and toughness. Horner was
basically the only NC State player to show up in the first meeting between these
team, finishing with 13 points and 16 rebounds, including nine offensive
rebounds.


Rebounding was the only thing the Hokies didn’t do well in the first meeting.
The Wolfpack outrebounded Tech 45-37, and grabbed a whopping 27 offensive
rebounds. Those offensive rebounds kept the game from being an even bigger
blowout.

Point guard Javier Gonzalez averages 10 points per game, but in general he is
a hit or miss player. In ACC games, he has more turnovers (43) than assists
(42). In the first meeting with Tech, he was only 1-of-8 from the field, and had
just two points.

However, NC State has been a different team over the last two games because
Gonzalez has been playing well. He has combined for 30 points, eight assists and
two turnovers in those two wins, and his improved performance is the main reason
his team came out on top against Wake and Miami. He’ll need to keep that up on
Wednesday night. NC is highly unlikely to escape Blacksburg with a victory
without good guard play.

Scott Wood is a freshman wing that will have to be guarded closely on the
perimeter. He is a great three-point shooter, and he can put up huge numbers if
left unchecked. He dropped 31 points in a road win against Florida State earlier
in the season.

Farnold Degand missed the first meeting with an injury. He is an experienced
ACC guard, but not much of a scoring threat. Degand shoots less than 35% from
the field in ACC play, and only 25.8% from three-point range. He has not been
effective against the top quality teams the Wolfpack have faced.

Virginia Tech has better players than NC State. However, the Hokies have lost
three in a row, and injuries are starting to take their toll.

Virginia
Tech Injuries
Player Injuries

Malcolm Delaney

Ankles, Thigh

Dorenzo Hudson

Foot

Jeff Allen

Back

Cadarian Raines

Shoulder

Malcolm Delaney already had two injured ankles, and now has a thigh bruise to go
along with it. Dorenzo Hudson’s cutting ability is hampered by a foot injury.
Jeff Allen has an ailing back. Cadarian Raines has a shoulder injury that kept
him out of the Maryland game and will probably require surgery in the offseason.

If you’re looking for reasons for Virginia Tech’s late season slump, if you
can call it that, injuries are as big a reason as any. The Hokies haven’t played
good defense in the last two games, and injuries generally hurt a player’s
defensive game before affecting his offense.

Stats
Comparison, ACC Games Only
Category NC
State
VT
Stat Rank Stat Rank

Scoring Off.
65.9 10 71.1 3

Scoring Def.
71.1 9 70.9 8

FG%
39.5% 12 40% 10

FG% Def.
45.1% 11 41.4% 5

3Pt.%
30.7% 7 27.5% 12

3Pt.% Def.
34.8% 9 29.3% 4

FT%
70.6% 7 75.3% 2

Reb. Margin
-3.1 11 -3.1 11

TO Margin
+0.5 5 +3.07 1

Assist/TO Ratio
0.9 5 0.8 10

Average

 

8.6

 

6.6

On paper, as well as in the standings, this NC State team is one of the worst in
the ACC. They are tied with Miami and North Carolina with a 4-10 record, and
there is a good chance that they will be the #12 seed in the ACC tournament.

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The ACC stats show why. The Wolfpack don’t shoot well, don’t defend well
and don’t rebound well. That’s a bad combination, especially when you have no
other strength, such as turnover margin, that can help you compensate for those
weaknesses. The Hokies are one of the worst shooting teams in the conference,
but they have played excellent defense for most of the season and are #1 in
turnover margin. That has helped them overcome their shooting deficiencies.

The Hokies will have their work cut out for them on the inside against Tracy
Smith and Dennis Horner. However, they will have a huge advantage in the
backcourt. Malcolm Delaney, Dorenzo Hudson and Terrell Bell vs. Javier Gonzalez,
Farnold Degand and Scott Wood is the biggest mismatch the Hokies have had in the
backcourt in ACC play, except for the first meeting with NC State when the
injured Degand gave way to Josh Davis in the starting lineup.

Playing at home in Cassell Coliseum, and with a big advantage in the
backcourt, the Hokies should be able to pick up their ninth ACC victory of the
season and boost their NCAA tournament chances.

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