Saturday , Mar , 04 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

ACC clash pits Wolfpack against Demon Deacons

(Sports Network) – The regular season will come to a close for a pair of ACC
teams as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons play host to the 22nd-ranked NC State
Wolfpack. NC State has been idle since last Saturday when it suffered a
heart-breaking 74-72 double-overtime loss to Boston College. That defeat was
the second in a row for the Wolfpack, which still owns a 21-7 overall record
and a 10-5 mark in league play. The club is tied for third place in the
ACC with Boston College, as only North Carolina (11-4) and Duke (14-1) are
ahead of NC State in the standings.

As for Wake Forest, its 2-13 league record is the worst in the 12-team
conference. The Demon Deacons are a much more respectable 14-15 overall, and
they need a win this afternoon to avoid their first losing season since
1989-90. They dropped an 80-65 decision to Boston College earlier this week,
the same team that knocked off the Wolfpack last weekend. Back on January
21st, NC State recorded a 92-82 victory over Wake Forest. In regard to the
all-time series between the teams, the Wolfpack holds a 127-94 advantage.

In the double-overtime loss to Boston College, the Wolfpack connected on only
39.1 percent of its field goal attempts, including a lackluster 11-of-35
effort from three-point range. The club was also outrebounded by a 46-34
margin, an obvious contributing factor in the setback. Ilian Evtimov led the
club in defeat with 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
Cameron Bennerman added 14 points for NC State, which also got 12 points from
Cedric Simmons and 10 from Gavin Grant.

Bennerman paces the balanced Wolfpack attack with 13.5 ppg, and Simmons
checks in with 12.1 ppg to go along with team highs of 6.5 rpg and 74
blocks. Evtimov adds 11.4 ppg, Engin Atsur is close behind with 11.3 ppg,
and Tony Bethel rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.0 ppg. NC
State is scoring 76.3 ppg while limiting opponents to 66.9 ppg.

Expect Wake Forest to play with plenty of emotion tonight, as some
accomplished seniors will perform at home for the final time. Justin Gray and
Eric Williams have been a part of some outstanding teams during their tenure,
and although this season has fallen well short of expectations, the legacy of
those individuals is already in place. Gray leads the club in scoring this
season with 18.4 ppg, and he is also tops with 106 assists. As for Williams,
he adds 16.1 ppg and 8.7 rpg, and his 61.6 percent shooting from the floor is
outstanding. While often overshadowed by his high-profile teammates, Trent
Strickland supplies 12.6 ppg and 6.7 rpg to the mix.

In the loss to Boston College earlier this week, Strickland scored 15 points
to pace his team. Wake also got 10 points from three players: Williams, Gray
and Cameron Stanley.