The NC State men’s basketball team opens the 2021-22 regular season Tuesday evening when it hosts Bucknell at 8 p.m. inside of PNC Arena.
About NC State
- NC State opens its 112th season of basketball Tuesday evening when it hosts Bucknell.
- The Pack has won 26 of its last 27 home-openers when played against a non-conference opponent.
- The Pack has won 23 consecutive regular season home games against non-conference opponents and has a 30-1 record against non-conference opponents in regular season home games under head coach Kevin Keatts.
- NC State finished last season with a 14-11 (9-8 ACC) record. The Pack lost leading scorer Devon Daniels to a torn ACL on Jan. 27, but regrouped to win its final five ACC road games to finish with a winning record in league play for the fourth consecutive season under Kevin Keatts.
- The Pack returns four players who started over half of the games last season: Jericole Hellems (24), Manny Bates (23), Thomas Allen (15) and Cam Hayes (13). In addition, NC State returns Dereon Seabron who made eight starts late in the season after the Pack had lost Daniels to a season-ending injury.
- Senior forward Jericole Hellems is the Pack’s leading returning scorer at 12.9 points per game. The St. Louis, Mo., native was an Honorable Mention All-ACC selection last season.
- NC State has to replace two double-digit scorers from last season’s team. Guard Devon Daniels averaged a team-best 16.5 points per game last season, while forward D.J. Funderburk averaged 12.6 points per game.
Noting NC State
- Between COVID pauses and injuries, Kevin Keatts was constantly juggling the lineup last season. In 25 games, eight players started at least eight games. Five of those eight players return this season.
- Kevin Keatts is entering his fifth season as head coach of NC State and for the fifth consecutive season he will have to replace the previous season’s leading scorer. Devon Daniels led the team in scoring last season at 16.5 points per game. Jericole Hellems is the leading returning scorer at 12.9 points per game.
- North Carolina’s team? Nine of NC State’s 14 players are from the state of North Carolina. That’s the most of the four ACC programs based in North Carolina. UNC has six of its 17 players from the state. Duke has five of its 14 players from the state and Wake Forest has four of its 19 players from the state.
- NC State only has two players (Thomas Allen and Jericole Hellems) who will complete their eligibility this season. Allen is a redshirt senior, who played his first two seasons at Nebraska before transferring home to NC State. Hellems is the only four-year senior on the team. He and redshirt junior Manny Bates have each been in the program four years. Nine of NC State’s 14 players are either in their first or second seasons with the program.
- After not adding any transfers last season for the first time since he became head coach, Kevin Keatts added two transfers this offseason in Providence transfer Greg Gantt and Virginia transfer Casey Morsell. Keatts has now added 13 transfers to the program in his five seasons as head coach.
- Bucknell went 5-7 last season playing a COVID-abbreviated, Patriot League-only slate. Tuesday’s game will be Bucknell’s first non-league contest since Dec. 28, 2019.
- The Bison advanced to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals before falling to eventual champion, Colgate (NC State’s opponent on Saturday, Nov. 13).
- Bucknell has been the dominant program in the Patriot League for a little over a decade. The Bison won eight Patriot League regular-season titles in a nine-year span from 2011-19, and the Bison went to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2018 during that stretch.
- Bucknell was picked sixth in the preseason Patriot League poll. The Bison return two starters (Andrew Funk and Xander Rice) from last season’s team.
- Bucknell junior forward Jake van der Heijden is from Raleigh and attended Ravenscroft.
- Both programs have a connection to legendary head coach Jim Valvano. Valvano’s second head coaching job was at Bucknell from 1972-75. He had a 33-42 with the Bison before leaving to take the Iona job. After five seasons and two NCAA Tournament bids at Iona, Valvano became head coach at NC State on March 27, 1980. He coached the Wolfpack for 10 seasons and compiled a 209-110 record with NC State, including guiding the team to the 1983 National Championship.
- The Pack has won 23 consecutive regular season home games against non-conference opponents and has a 30-1 record against non-conference opponents in regular season home games under Kevin Keatts.
- A big reason for this success is NC State’s ability to turn its opponent. In home games against non-conference opponents, NC State is averaging to force 19 turnovers per game and has nearly a +7 turnover margin. The Pack is also averaging 9.3 steals per game in home games against non-conference opponents.
- Last season when NC State forced an opponent into 15 or more turnovers the Pack was 10-1. When its opponent had less than 15 turnovers, NC State was 4-10.
- Sophomore guard Cam Hayes looks to build on a strong end to his freshman campaign. The freshman had anything but a normal freshman year. Between abbreviated summer workouts because of the pandemic and two separate COVID outbreaks on the team during the season, Hayes missed valuable time on the court. He ended the regular season by scoring in double figures in four of the last five regular season games, including a season-best 20 points in the win at Notre Dame. He averaged 11 points per game over the last eight games of the season.
NC State vs Bucknell
- Tuesday will mark the second meeting all-time between the two programs.
- NC State won the only previous meeting, 99-86, on December 5, 2015. Maverick Rowan scored 27 points to lead all scorers, while Cat Barber finished with 24 points and Caleb Martin scored 212. Bucknell led 73-72 with 8:24 remaining in the game, but the Pack responded with a 13-2 run to put the game away.
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