The North Carolina State Wolfpack and Miami Hurricanes have been going in different directions.
NC State, after a 6-1 start, has lost four of its past five games while Miami has won five straight.
On Wednesday night, those different directions will collide in Miami as the Wolfpack (7-5, 0-1 ACC) visit the Hurricanes (9-3, 1-0) in a conference matchup.
NC State’s slump has been odd. It includes a hard-fought loss to top-ranked Purdue in overtime. Nine days later, however, NC State lost by 14 points to Wright State (4-7) in Raleigh.
A bright spot for the Wolfpack has been 6-4 freshman guard Terquavion Smith, who was North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball last season.
Smith, who has already earned two ACC Rookie of the Week awards and averages 13.8 points, scored a season-high 27 points on Dec. 21 against Wright State, making 12 of 25 shots, including 3 of 10 on three-pointers.
“I feel like I bring a lot of energy,” Smith said. “That’s just how I play.”
NC State’s leading scorer is Dereon Seabron, a 6-7 wing who is averaging 19.0 points and a team-high 10.1 rebounds. Jericole Hellems is NC State’s best three-point shooter (39.7 percent), and he ranks second in scoring (14.4).
Miami beat NC State 64-59 last season in Raleigh, rallying from a six-point deficit with 6:45 to play, but Miami has lost its past two games at home vs. the Wolfpack.
Miami’s advantage on Wednesday figures to be its experience, including three starters — Kameron McGusty, Charlie Moore and Sam Waardenburg — who are in their sixth year of collegiate basketball.
McGusty leads Miami in scoring (18.4), shooting 82.1 percent on free throws and 39.2 percent on three-pointers. Most recently in a win over Stetson last week, McGusty had 27 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 6 of 8 from deep.
However, coach Jim Larranaga is concerned with his team’s eight-day holiday break between games.
“What we’ve done is get guys back in time to get in some conditioning and real practices,” Larranaga said.
Isaiah Wong is Miami’s second-leading scorer (15.6), while Moore leads in assists (3.4) and is third in scoring (10.8).
–Field Level Media