Wednesday , Feb , 22 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Top-25 battle pits Tar Heels against Wolfpack

=== Top-25 battle pits Tar Heels against Wolfpack ===

(Sports Network) – Two of the hottest teams in college basketball clash this
evening in a pivotal ACC battle, as the 15th-ranked North Carolina State
Wolfpack host in-state rival, the 21st-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels at
the RBC Center. For over the past few decades the Wolfpack would normally be
looking up in the standings at the Tar Heels by this point in the season.
However, that is not the case this year, as the Wolfpack are currently in
second place in the ACC with a 10-3 league mark and can widen the gap between
themselves and UNC with a victory tonight. NC State comes into this matchup
red-hot, winning six of its last seven contests, including back-to-back
victories over Florida State (86-64) and Virginia Tech (70-64). Knocking off
NC State at the RBC Center has proven to be a difficult task this season, as
the Wolfpack are 15-1 on their home floor, with their lone loss coming
against Seton Hall, 83-65.

As for the defending national champs, they have also played extremely well of
late, also winning six of their last seven games, including three in a row.
The last time UNC was on the court, the team posted a solid 83-72 victory
over Wake Forest. The Tar Heels have been simply sensational on the road this
season, posting a 6-2 record away from home, which includes an outstanding
5-1 mark against ACC teams outside of Chapel Hill. North Carolina
collected its fifth straight victory over the Wolfpack earlier this
season, as the Tar Heels defeated NC State, 82-69. Overall the Tar Heels
have dominated the all-time series and currently lead the Wolfpack by a
commanding 133-74 margin.

The Tar Heels might be young on paper, but offensively the team seems to be
growing each and every game and the main reason for the quick growth spurt has
been the play of North Carolina’s tremendous freshman sensation, Tyler
Hansbrough. Hansbrough has exceeded preseason expectations and is currently
leading the Tar Heels with 18.9 ppg and 7.7 rpg. The forward leads all other
ACC rookies in scoring and rebounding and has been selected as the conference
Rookie of the Week eight times. Reyshawn Terry and David Noel have been a
solid supporting cast for Hansbrough, as Terry is scoring 14.4 ppg to go along
with 6.0 rpg, while Noel is posting 11.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg.

In UNC’s recent victory over Wake Forest, the Tar Heels shot 50.0 percent
from the field and connected on 24-of-30 shots from the foul line. Terry
led the way with 24 points, while Hansbrough posted double figures for the
18th straight contest, finishing the game with 17 points. Noel contributed
13 points for UNC, while Danny Green chipped in 10 points off the bench.

NC State has been one of the most dangerous teams in the entire nation this
season and that is because the squad has played extremely well at both ends of
the court. Defensively, the Wolfpack are surrendering just 65.5 ppg, while
holding the opposition to a lackluster 39.8 percent shooting effort from the
field. NC State has been equally strong at the other end of the floor,
producing 76.7 ppg, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. Cameron
Bennerman currently leads five players for NC State with double figures, as
the forward is scoring 13.7 ppg. Cedric Simmons has been a tremendous presence
underneath, as the center is averaging 12.1 ppg, while leading the squad with
6.6 rpg. Ilian Evtimov is third on the team with 11.6 ppg, but his
availability for the contest is still in question after missing the team’s
previous contest with a foot injury he suffered against Florida State. Engin
Atsur and Tony Bethel round out the double-digit scorers for NC State, as
Atsur is contributing 11.3 ppg, while Bethel is chipping in 10.2 ppg.

In the NCSU’s recent victory over Virginia Tech, the Wolfpack shot 45.1
percent from the field, which included a solid 12-of-26 clip from long range.
Bennerman led the way with 26 points and five assists, while Bethel added
19 points and Atsur tallied 14.