Georgia Tech-NC State Preview

The Associated Press

North Carolina State wasn't at its best to begin the ACC season, but the result was yet another victory. With a weekend showdown looming, the Wolfpack will first try to maintain their focus and continue their winning ways.

The No. 20 Wolfpack seek their first nine-game win streak in 24 years in their conference home opener against Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.

After taking its last three non-conference games by an average of 18.7 points, North Carolina State (12-2, 1-0) found itself down by as many as six in the second half of a 78-73 victory over Boston College on Saturday.

The Wolfpack hit 21 of 25 from the foul line following halftime - six straight by Scott Wood in the final 27 seconds - but that came after they missed seven of 11 in the opening 20 minutes. Freshman Rodney Purvis finished with a season-high 19 points but committed a foul on a 3-point attempt with 19 seconds left and the Wolfpack up by three.

"We were our own worst enemy today and I'm not taking anything away from (the Eagles),'' coach Mark Gottfried said. " ... It's a laundry list of things where we felt like we just hurt ourselves.''

North Carolina State, though, is on the verge of its first nine-game run since winning 10 in a row Dec. 20, 1988-Jan. 18, 1989.

It's in that position in large part because of its nation-best 53.1 field-goal percentage and impressive depth, with six players averaging at least 9.8 points.

"You have a team that has six guys averaging double figures and is so explosive offensively," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "Adding those three new guys (Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis) does take some time and some adjustment and I think you're starting to see that over the last three to four weeks they are really starting to hit on all cylinders."

The Wolfpack hope to maintain their momentum through this game and into Saturday, when they host top-ranked Duke in a matchup of two of the top teams in the conference.

North Carolina State will be facing a Georgia Tech team that lost 62-49 at home to Miami in its ACC opener last Saturday. The Yellow Jackets have dropped seven in a row on the road in league play - a skid that dates to an 82-71 victory over the Wolfpack on Jan. 11.

That was Gregory's first ACC win and Gottfried's first conference loss with North Carolina State.

Picking up another victory in Raleigh could be a challenge as North Carolina State has won its eight games there by an average of 18.0 points.

"We got our first taste (of ACC play). We see what it's like," freshman forward Robert Carter said. "We see we gotta go a little bit harder in practice and get more prepared."

Georgia Tech (10-3, 0-1) won six in a row after its previous loss Nov. 28.

The Yellow Jackets were outrebounded by 11 last Saturday. Carter has grabbed at least 10 boards in three of his last five games, but he had only four versus Miami.

Warren is second in the nation in field-goal percentage at 68.1, while teammate Lorenzo Brown leads the ACC with 6.4 assists per game. They'll face a Georgia Tech team that has a field-goal percentage defense of 35.6.

Yellow Jackets point guard Mfon Udofia scored 17 points and went 3 for 4 from 3-point range Jan. 11.

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