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(19) NC State (16-4) at Virginia (14-5)



Tuesday, January 29, 7 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: John Paul Jones Arena (14,593) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: NC State 12-0, Virginia 12-1. Away Record: NC State 1-3, Virginia 2-3. Neutral Record: NC State 3-1, Virginia 0-1. Conference Record: NC State 5-2, Virginia 4-2. Series Record: NC State leads, 81-58.

GAME NOTES: The No. 19 NC State Wolfpack aim at their first-ever victory at John Paul Jones Arena when they tangle with the Virginia Cavaliers in an Atlantic Coast Conference bout on Tuesday.

Although the Wolfpack hold an 81-58 all-time series edge versus Virginia, the Cavaliers are 35-23 against NC State in Charlottesville, including a 4-0 mark at JPJA. NC State is the only winless ACC team at JPJA. This will be a match- up of offenses on opposite sides of the ledger. NC State boasts the top scoring offense in the ACC at 79.8 points per game, while Virginia is posting a mere 62.8 points per contest.

Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack has not been playing up to their potential in recent weeks. Since upsetting Duke by eight points, they have gone 2-2 with road losses at Maryland (51-50) and Wake Forest (86-84) to go along with home victories over Clemson (66-62) and North Carolina (91-83). The win over the Tar Heels boosted NC State to 16-4 overall, including its 5-2 mark in ACC action. Although the team leads the conference and is sixth among Division I schools in scoring offense, it is second to last in the ACC on the other end of the court, allowing 70.2 points per game.

The inconsistent play will most likely not last too long for the Wolfpack due to their unbelievable scoring depth. C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, Scott Wood, and T.J. Warren are all carrying double-digit scoring averages into this one, while Rodney Purvis is sitting at 9.8 ppg. Brown (20 points, 11 assists), Howell (16 points, 14 rebounds), and Leslie (17 points, 10 rebounds) all notched double-doubles to push NC State past UNC.

Tony Bennett's Cavaliers collected their third win in a row with a 65-51 victory over Boston College on Saturday. The decision pushed Virginia to 14-5 overall, including its 4-2 mark in ACC action. It will try to carry on that momentum on Tuesday at JPJA, where it is 12-1 on the season. The Cavaliers are allowing a mere 51.1 points per game to rank second in the nation in scoring defense.

Still, the team has a formidable inside/outside game in the form of guard Joe Harris and forward Akil Mitchell. Harris leads the team in scoring at 14.8 ppg and is shooting .467 from behind the arc (42-of-90). Mitchell nets 12.3 ppg and ranks among the ACC's best in rebounding (fourth in the conference at 8.8 rpg). Harris was cold versus BC, going 3-of-9 from the floor for just seven points. However, Mitchell tallied 16 points and six boards, while Justin Anderson poured in 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting off the bench. Freshman forward Evan Nolte continued to show progression despite foul trouble, netting nine points in just 11 minutes of action.

The Wolfpack are the better team on paper, but their troubles away from home may continue to haunt them in this one. Nolte may end up being the x-factor for Virginia, as his presence as a third scoring option makes the defensive- minded Cavaliers a much more complete squad. However, this could be a statement game for NC State, which wants to get back to ACC-elite status.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 68, Virginia 63

01/29 10:39:50 ET

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