Clemson-NC State Preview

The Associated Press

Four days after knocking off the top-ranked team in the country, North Carolina State was left wondering what happened to its high-powered offense.

The 14th-ranked Wolfpack will try to shrug off their first ACC loss and return to their high-scoring ways Sunday night when they host Clemson.

North Carolina State (14-3, 3-1) led the nation in field-goal percentage (52.8) and was eighth in scoring (81.5 points per game) following an 84-76 victory over No. 1 Duke on Jan. 12.

However, that efficiency went out the window in the Wolfpack's 51-50 loss at Maryland on Wednesday. NC State shot a season-low 31.1 percent, but still looked like it might escape before the Terrapins' Alex Len made the game-winner off a missed shot with 0.9 seconds left.

"When you are competitors, you can't wait to compete, especially after a tough loss," coach Mark Gottfried said. "I don't have any concern that they won't be ready (Sunday)."

NC State, tied for second in the ACC behind 4-0 Miami, looks to extend its home winning streak to 12 games and respond the way it did following its previous loss.

The Wolfpack followed a 79-72 defeat at then-No. 3 Michigan on Nov. 3 with 10 straight victories - the program's longest winning streak since 1988-89.

Lorenzo Brown will try to stay hot for the Wolfpack after averaging 16.7 points, 9.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds in his last three games. The junior guard had 18 points in a 72-69 overtime loss at Clemson last February in the most recent meeting, NC State's seventh defeat in its last nine versus the Tigers.

Junior forward C.J. Leslie, the team's leading scorer (16.0 ppg), has scored 18 points in each of his last two games in the series.

For the Wolfpack to recover from Wednesday's loss, they'll want to make sure they get to the free-throw line. NC State averages 24.5 trips to the charity stripe - among the nation's best - but has been held to 16 or fewer in its three losses.

"We have to make sure we bounce back with great energy," Gottfried said.

That might be difficult against a Clemson team that ranks among the nation's leaders defensively, allowing 55.4 points per game while holding its last six opponents to an average of only 11.5 free-throw attempts.

The Tigers held their last two conference foes to 45 points or fewer for the first time since joining the ACC in 1953.

After an 0-2 start in conference play, Clemson (10-6, 2-2) has rolled to home wins over Virginia and Wake Forest by a total of 31 points.

The Tigers, though, will have to find a way to boost an offense that has ranks 11th in the ACC in scoring (64.1 ppg) and has averaged 53.0 points over the last three games.

Senior big man Devin Booker (12.1 per game) leads a trio of Clemson scorers averaging in double figures, along with K.J. McDaniels (10.9) and Milton Jennings (10.2).

McDaniels could provide a spark after finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks against Wake Forest.

"I believe last year once we started winning games and getting our confidence, we started winning more games," McDaniels told the school's official website. "So if we do that now, this early in the ACC schedule, we'll be able to get a few good wins."

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