NC State hopes to keep riding turnaround, hosts Wake Forest
North Carolina State has produced an incredible turnaround this season, and the Wolfpack want to keep it going.
There’s no shortage of momentum for NC State, which is set to host Wake Forest in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday night.
The Wolfpack (21-7, 11-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) conquered rival North Carolina 77-69 on Sunday in a riveting home game, holding fifth place in the ACC with a chance to move up with a pair of home games this week.
“This has been a really good year for us because I have 100 percent buy-in (from our players),” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.
The Wolfpack have vastly improved compared to last season, when they finished 11-21.
“We have had a great turnaround,” Keatts said. “I am happy with the way we played and the way we turned it around.”
The Wolfpack went 2-2 since entering the national rankings two weeks ago, and they dropped out of the AP Top 25 this week.
Wake Forest (17-10, 9-7) might be running out of chances for signature victories, particularly on the road. Wednesday’s in-state visit to Raleigh looms large in terms of the Demon Deacons’ postseason aspirations.
“We still have a lot in front of us,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said. “NC State poses another big game for us. We still have a chance to have a really good year.”
The Demon Deacons have won only three of their past eight games, with each of the defeats coming by a single-digit margin. They are coming off a 96-87 loss at then-No. 15 Miami on Saturday.
NC State will be going for a regular-season sweep of the Demon Deacons after prevailing 79-77 on Jan. 28.
The Wolfpack played that first meeting without forward Jack Clark, who came back to action earlier this month and has provided a boost. His playing time could grow, though Keatts said Clark is still working on raising his conditioning level.
“It gives us another dimension, his ability to pick and pop,” Keatts said. “I do expect when Jack is on the floor, it makes things a little easier for DJ (Burns Jr.) because now you have four shooters around him when we throw the ball inside.”
–Field Level Media