NCSU students pack PNC Arena for GameDay
Posted January 26, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina State students and fans braved frigid temperatures and icy Triangle roadways early Saturday in an effort to get the best seats for ESPN's College GameDay, a preview show that will air on ESPNU and ESPN Saturday morning ahead of the Wolfpack's 7 p.m. showdown with rival North Carolina.
Fans began lining up on the east side of PNC Arena as early as 6 a.m., and doors opened at 8:30.
The show went live on ESPNU at 10 a.m., and NC State head coach Mark Gottfried and several players were scheduled to join host Rece Davis and analysts Jay Bilas, Jalen Rose and Digger Phelps on set.
From 11 a.m. to noon, the show was broadcast nationwide on ESPN. Tonight's game will also be on "The Worldwide Leader in Sports."
With the ESPN show's presence adding a bit more excitement, the 223rd meeting between the Wolfpack and Tar Heels will likely be played in front of a frenzied crowd.
The Tar Heels hold an overwhelming advantage (147-75) in the series and have won 13 straight against the Wolfpack, but having already knocked off top-ranked Duke two weeks ago in the same building, NC State has proven it will be ready for the big stage.
NC State players on Friday said the team hasn't been focused on the rivalry or everything that goes with it since losing to Wake Forest Tuesday night in Winston-Salem.
"I'm not really focused on what they're best at or what they've done in the past," C.J. Leslie said. "I'm focused on the team they are right now."
The "right now" version of the Tar Heels (13-5, 3-2 ACC) could be tough to beat Saturday. North Carolina has won three straight games and is playing perhaps its best basketball of the season.
The Wolfpack, on the other hand, have struggled since their win over Duke. NC State (15-4, 4-2 ACC) fell to Maryland, eked out a close win over Clemson and then lost 86-84 to the Demon Deacons Tuesday.
"I think the one thing we have to be consistent at is defense. For us to become a very good team we can't have the lulls and the periods where we're not as good defensively," Gottfried said Friday. "We'll find ways to score the ball, now we have to find ways to keep other teams from scoring."
North Carolina is averaging 43.1 rebounds per game, 5.4 more than their opponents, and is averaging 10.6 more points than opponents per game. NC State has focused work this week on being more aggressive on the boards and limiting the Tar Heels' opportunities to take advantage of loose rebounds.
"The most important thing is they have to be mentally prepared to play every single night," said Gottfried. "I think we've had good practices … now we have to carry it into the game and be consistent there as well."
UNC will be without Leslie McDonald for the fifth straight game, but the Tar Heels have not seemed to miss him offensively with Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo stepping into their offensive roles.