The NC State men’s basketball team concludes its trip to the Mohegan Sun’s Bubbleville event Saturday when it takes on UConn.
Tipoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ESPNU with Kevin Brown and Jon Crispin will be on the call. NC State fans can also listen to Gary Hahn and Tony Haynes call the action on the Wolfpack Sports Network.
About the Wolfpack:
- NC State improved to 3-0 on the season with a dominating 90-59 win over UMass Lowell on Thursday at the Mohegan Sun.
- It’s the third-time in four seasons with Kevin Keatts as head coach that the Pack have opened the season 3-0.
- Devon Daniels (18), Cam Hayes (17) and Jericole Hellems (17) combined to score 52 points in the Pack’s win over the River Hawks and were the only players to reach double figures for NC State.
- The Pack has a balanced offensive attack in the early part of this season. The team has eight players averaging at least 6.7 points per game and the team’s bench has contributed at least 30 points in every game and is averaging 34.7 points per game.
- The Pack has opened the season with shooting performances over 50 percent in all three games. Last season in 32 games, NC State only had six games where it shot over 50 percent from the field. The Pack’s 53.4 percent shooting so far this season is the best mark in the ACC. NC State’s top-seven scorers this season are all shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
- This marks the first time since a five game stretch from Dec. 5-to-Dec. 28, 2018 that the Pack has shot 50 percent or better in three consecutive games.
- NC State currently leads the ACC in three-pointers per game (10.3) and three-point field goal percentage (44.9%). The Pack has hit 31 three-pointers in the first three games. NC State’s top-four three-point shooters – Thomas Allen (6-9), Braxton Beverly (6-10), Devon Daniels (6-14) and Jericole Hellems (5-7) – are shooting a combined 57.5 percent from downtown.
- The Pack’s defense has been swarming in the first two games this season. NC State finished with 18 steals and forced 32 Charleston Southern turnovers. The 18 steals are the most of the Kevin Keatts era and were just two short of tying the school record. The 32 forced turnovers are the second-most for an NC State opponent since Keatts became head coach. Through games of Dec. 3, NC State ranks sixth in NCAA DI in turnovers forced per game (23.3) and is seventh in steals per game (12.3).
- The Pack is allowing 57.0 points per game through the first three games of the season. Under head coach Kevin Keatts, NC State is 41-8 (.837) when it holds an opponent to 70 points or less.
About the Huskies:
- The Huskies returned to the Big East Conference this season after playing in the American Conference the last six seasons.
- UConn went 19-12 and return four starters from last season’s team.
- The Huskies were picked fourth in the 11-team Big East preseason poll. Sophomore guard James Bouknight was a preseason All-Big East second-team selection and also is on the James Naismith Preseason Watch List.
- The Pack is 34-6 (.850) against non-conference opponents in regular season play under Keatts. Since dropping contests to unranked Tennessee (Vols were unranked at time of game, but finished season #13), Northern Iowa and UNCG (went 27-8 and received NCAA Tourney bid) in his first season with the Pack in 2017-18, Keatts and NC State have only lost non-conference regular season games at #22 Wisconsin (79-75) #16 Memphis on a neutral court (83-78) and at #12 Auburn (79-73). The Pack has a 32-3 (.914) against unranked non-conference opponents under Keatts and has won 23 consecutive games against unranked non-conference opponents.
- NC State has turned defense into offense quite effectively this season. In two games, NC State is outscoring its opponents 84-26 in points off turnovers. UConn is averaging 12.7 turnovers per game and through three games has a 43-40 advantage in points off turnovers.
- Saturday’s game promises an early season matchup of two of the nation’s best shot blockers. UConn’s Isaiah Whaley (a Gastonia, N.C. native) is currently averaging 3.67 blocks per game while NC State’s Manny Bates is averaging 2.67 blocks per game. Whaley averaged 1.5 blocks per game last season while Bates averaged 2.86 blocks per game last season and finished the season seventh in the NCAA.
- The Pack will face its toughest test of the season on the boards when it faces the Huskies. UConn is averaging to outrebound its opponent by 12 rebounds per game this season and is averaging 17.0 offensive rebounds an outing. NC State has been outrebounded in two of its three games this season and is averaging to give up 11 offensive rebounds per game.
- A big question heading into the season for NC State was who would replace Markell Johnson at point guard. Johnson left NC State third all-time in school history in assists and led the ACC in assists twice, including last season with 6.8 assists per game. Through three games, senior Braxton Beverly and Cam Hayes have combined for 28 assists and three turnovers. Beverly with 12 assists and just 1 turnover leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 12-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Hayes, a true freshman, has 16 assists and two turnovers. His 8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio currently ranks third in the ACC and 10th in the NCAA.
NC State vs UConn:
- Saturday marks the sixth all-time meeting in the series between the two programs. NC State leads the all-time series, 3-2.
- The Pack won the last meeting between the programs, 69-65, on Dec. 4, 2012 in Madison Square Gardens as part of the Jimmy V Classic. Richard Howell (who is part of NC State’s Graduating Class in December 2020 after completing his degree while playing professional basketball abroad) had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Pack and C.J. Leslie added 16 points and 13 rebounds.