NC State vies to complete sweep of Wake Forest

·3 min read

North Carolina State has won three of its last 11 games, once against Wake Forest and twice on the road.

So maybe it's convenient that the next game for the Wolfpack comes on the road versus the Demon Deacons on Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Wolfpack (9-9, 5-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won only two of their last six games overall. That includes Wednesday's 74-73 escape at Pittsburgh.

"We needed a good win to make us feel better and obviously get a road win," NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. "I'm excited that we finished the way we did."

Wake Forest had made notable strides in recent weeks until tumbling 84-60 to Duke on Wednesday night at home.

So this will be the first outing for the Demon Deacons (6-10, 3-10) since coach Steve Forbes was ejected in the first half after drawing a pair of technical fouls. Perhaps in some way there was a statement made by the first-year coach.

"I am going to fight for my players," Forbes said. "I have a passion for them, and our university and our team, and that's not going to change today and it's not going to change tomorrow."

As a player, Isaiah Mucius said he appreciated Forbes' fire.

"You can tell his compassion and heart, he's not going to let anything bad go about our team, no matter what," Mucius said.

The Demon Deacons have hit at least seven 3-point shots in 10 games in a row. Forward Ody Oguama tied his season high with 14 points for Wake Forest.

NC State played without guard Thomas Allen (leg) in the game against Pittsburgh. Although he averages 7.4 points per game, he had led the Wolfpack in scoring in three of its previous nine games.

"He's going to need a lot of treatment," Keatts said. "I couldn't be able to tell you when he is going to play again."

On the plus side, guard Braxton Beverly overcame back and hip ailments -- and thus reduced practice time -- to post 12 points to match his highest point output in an ACC game this season.

The key for the Wolfpack could be getting regular backcourt production from freshmen Cam Hayes and Shakeel Moore. Both players had season-high marks in assists (nine for Hayes, six for Moore) against the Panthers, while Hayes notched 11 points for his best scoring effort since the third game of the season.

"I'm just trying to build on this and stay consistent," Hayes said. "That's mainly what I've been trying to do. Everybody on the team just wanted me to get back to being more consistent and more confident."

NC State's 72-67 home victory against Wake Forest on Jan. 27 in many ways was a significant event. That's because Wolfpack scoring leader Devon Daniels racked up 20 points but exited in the second half with what became a season-ending knee injury.

--Field Level Media