Two unbeatens face the toughest test of their young seasons Thursday when North Carolina State visits Saint Louis in a hastily scheduled nonconference game.
The Wolfpack (3-0) had their scheduled ACC opener against No. 23 Louisville on Wednesday night postponed, creating an opening that allowed them to travel to Saint Louis (5-0), which had its Dec. 12 game vs. Evansville canceled.
The matchup, which came together Tuesday, pits an NC State team that hasn’t played since Dec. 3 against a Billikens squad that is coming off a 78-59 home win over Indiana State on Tuesday, their 10th straight win dating back to last season.
The teams have met just once in their history, and that was a doozy, with Saint Louis snatching an 83-80 triumph in Orlando in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
The Wolfpack will be seeking to end a streak of four straight games having been canceled. They were last seen blasting Massachusetts-Lowell by 31 points, their third straight win by 30 or more.
“We’ll be rusty,” coach Kevin Keatts said. “For me to think that we’re going to just go back and be clicking the same way we were … I don’t think that’s going to happen.
“We’re a team that relies on our conditioning. That will come into question because we haven’t had a chance to get up and down as much. We’re a team that likes to press the entire game. We may have to scale some of that back until we get our conditioning better.”
Devon Daniels has been the Wolfpack’s leading scorer so far at 18 points per game.
NC State is now scheduled to tip off ACC play next Tuesday against No. 22 North Carolina. The Wolfpack has a final nonconference tune-up set for Saturday against Campbell.
The Billikens found themselves in an unusual position Tuesday when the attention-grabbing battle of unbeatens was being announced just as they were preparing for a game against Indiana State.
“We didn’t want it to get out, but we knew it was impossible and knew it would leak,” coach Travis Ford noted. “We needed to be focused on Indiana State.”
Jordan Goodwin led the way against the Sycamores, registering his fourth double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Saint Louis, which edged LSU by four points earlier in the season but has otherwise steamrolled all other foes by at least 19, has been led in scoring by Javonte Perkins at 19.4 points per game. Goodwin is averaging 15 points and 10.2 rebounds.
–Field Level Media