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Wolfpack set to pounce on Cardinal

11:41 AM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - The 25th-ranked NC State Wolfpack have a tough test on Tuesday when they welcome the Stanford Cardinal to PNC Arena for a non-conference tilt.

NC State returned to action after a week off on Saturday to down Norfolk State by 22 points at home. The Wolfpack's victory was their third in a row since dropping a seven-point decision to Michigan on the road. Coach Mark Gottfried's team, which is now 7-2, was ranked sixth in Division I to start the season before experiencing a 20-point setback to Oklahoma State in the Puerto Rico Tipoff. NC State is producing 78.4 ppg on 52.7 percent shooting from the floor while limiting opponents to a .397 field goal percentage and 68.3 ppg.

Gottfried's squad has a chance to make a statement in this one as Stanford is entering with some momentum after its 75-52 rout of UC Davis on Saturday. The victory was the Cardinal's third in a row which improved their record to 7-3. Coach Johnny Dawkins has led Stanford to a dismal 3-9 record against top-25 opponents during his tenure, including an eight-point loss to Missouri earlier this season in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Cardinal are outscoring their opposition by average margin of 8.7 points per contest.

In the only previous meeting, Stanford clipped NC State 76-72 last December at Maples Pavilion.

Although the Wolfpack were very impressive near the conclusion of their 2011-12 season, they may do even more damage in March this season due to the freshmen duo of forward T.J. Warren and guard Rodney Purvis. Warren netted 21 points off the bench his last time out while Purvis chipped in 10 points and four assists. Senior forward Richard Howell stood out as well with 12 points and 19 rebounds. Point guard Lorenzo Brown also filled up the stat sheet with 16 points, seven assists, and four steals. Warren is leading NC State in scoring with 14.6 points per outing and Howell is adding 14.1 ppg and is ranked fourth in the ACC with an average of 9.6 boards. C.J. Leslie (12.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg) is one of the most explosive players in the NCAA and can be an x- factor in big games.

Leslie will be needed as NC State will have to find a way to battle Stanford's forward duo of Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell on the interior. The 6-10, 235- pound Powell is leading the team with 14.8 ppg and Huestis is grabbing 8.2 rebounds per contest. The duo combined for 34 points and 16 rebounds in the Cardinal's win over UC Davis. Stanford held a 45-30 edge in the rebounding battle to overcome its poor 37.3 percent shooting from the field including its 7-of-29 mark from beyond the arc. The Cardinal have really relied on stingy defensive play this season, as there has been little to no consistency at the offensive end. The team is averaging a modest 69.9 ppg, while shooting a miserable .398 from the floor, a number severely hampered by a .260 effort from behind the arc. Point guard Chasson Randle is the only other double-digit scoring threat on the roster at 14.4 ppg, but he does so shooting a mere .358 from the floor.

The Sports Network

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