Saturday’s home game with Wake Forest will be a new experience for this season’s N.C. State basketball team.
The 6-1 Wolfpack is going to find out how it recovers from a loss.
The ACC opener for both teams at PNC Arena (7:30, ESPNU) will also be the ACC debut for new Deacon coach Danny Manning, whose team is 4-4. It will be the Wolfpack’s first December conference game in five years, and the Deacons’ earliest conference opener since 1998.
State dropped its ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Purdue 66-61 while the Deacons lost to visiting Minnesota 84-69, both on Tuesday night.
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“We learned a lot (against Purdue), and one thing we learned is we’ve got a long way to go,” said State coach Mark Gottfried, whose team is 6-0 at home. “We’re still trying to figure out who should play and how we should play and who needs the ball at certain times and what to run at certain times. We can execute our offense a whole lot better than what we did at Purdue, but we still had a chance to win the game even though we didn’t play great. Hopefully we learned some lessons we can carry forward.
“(Wake’s) Cody Miller-McIntyre and Devin Thomas have both been very good against us in the past, so we’ve got to make sure we do a great job guarding those two guys. They have a lot of new parts and new pieces. But our guys have great respect for Thomas and Cody.”
The Wolfpack leads the series 138-101. The teams split home victories last season, but the Deacons’ last win in Raleigh was in 2005.
Junior Alabama transfer Trevor Lacey (17.0, 5.9 rebs.) has led the Wolfpack scoring, followed by Ralston Turner (11.7, 2.6) and Cat Barber (11.6, 4.0).
“It’s going to be good to come out and play an ACC team,” Lacey said. “Wake Forest is going to come out and play us hard. They have good guards that can shoot. McIntyre can take it coast-to-coast and get in the lane and finish at the rim. We’re going to have to do a good job of getting back in transition and locating him.”
“We’re doing well at home and we defend well at home. It’s going to be good to come back home after a tough loss on the road, hopefully pick our spirits back up and get a ‘W.’”
Miller-McIntyre (11.1, 4.3), a 6-3 junior guard, and 6-9 junior forward Thomas (10.8, 10.0) lead the Deacons’ scoring. The Deacons have two Raleigh natives on the roster in 6-1 junior Ravenscroft grad Madison Jones (7.3, 2.6 assts.) and 6-9 senior Darius Leonard (5.8, 3.3 rebs.), a Kestrel Heights alum who played at Kent State and Campbell.
“We didn’t execute well enough at Purdue, but at the end of the day we still had a chance,” said Wolfpack forward Kyle Washington, who had 17 points and nine rebounds against the Boilermakers. “It’s kind of strange to have a conference game so early, but I think we’re all excited for Wake Forest at home. Devin Thomas is a pretty good player so we have to stay focused on him.”