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Wolfpack to play 2 games in 3-day span

By Joe Giglio
jgiglio@newsobserver.com

Twice during the regular season in 2011-12, N.C. State played two ACC games in three days and both times the Wolfpack lost the second game.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried is hoping to avoid that problem at Wake Forest on Tuesday. Gottfried said he took it easy on his team in Monday’s practice after a 66-62 home win against Clemson on Sunday night.

“We have to play well in a short amount of time,” Gottfried said Monday. “We have to get our legs back underneath us and go back on the road.”

It’s the only time this regular season N.C. State will have to play two games in three days and one of 14 on the ACC schedule.

North Carolina lost to Miami at home on Jan. 10 and then beat Florida State on the road on Jan. 12. Duke will play at Virginia (Feb. 28) and host Miami (March 2). Wake Forest and Maryland are the only two ACC teams that don’t have to play two games in three days this season.

Last season, the first under Gottfried, the Wolfpack had two two-in-three situations. It beat Miami on Jan. 26 and then lost at North Carolina on Jan. 28. It then lost an emotional game at Duke on Feb. 16 and got flattened at home by Florida State on Feb. 18.

Four teams went 2-0, two went 0-2 and there were seven splits in 13 two-in-three situations last season.

Working in N.C. State’s favor is the relatively easy travel to Winston-Salem and its recent dominance of the Deacons (9-8, 2-3 ACC). N.C. State (15-3, 4-1 ) has won five straight against Wake, including the last two trips to Joel Coliseum by an average of 30.5 points.

N.C. State embarrassed Wake Forest 76-40 last January in Winston-Salem. Wake’s leading scorer, Travis McKie, was held to two points and was ejected in the second half after throwing an elbow.

The game in Raleigh was much closer, an 87-76 N.C. State win, which is what the Wolfpack expects on Tuesday.

N.C. State, the preseason ACC favorite and one of three top 25 teams in the league, has taken on a new role this season. A 51-50 loss at Maryland last Wednesday and Sunday’s four-point win over Clemson illustrated that point to senior Richard Howell.

“It’s obvious that there’s a target on our back, so we have to bring it every night,” Howell said after Sunday’s win. “We just have to keep our confidence up.”

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