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Are You Ready to Rumble, North Carolina Style?

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RALEIGH — A key ACC clash on Saturday pits the North Carolina Tar Heels against N.C. State.

The Heels will look to rebound from a rare home loss earlier in the week. UNC succumbed to the pressure of a primetime game, falling to Maryland 89-76. The loss marked the third defeat in five games for North Carolina.

The Wolfpack put an end to a two-game skid on Thursday, beating Virginia, 82-72. N.C. State's losses preceding the Virginia win, came against ranked foes (Clemson and Maryland). Despite a huge deficit in the all-time series, the Wolfpack hold a 29-28 advantage in games played in Raleigh.

The strength of the Tar Heels is in the frontcourt where the bulk of the offensive production takes place. Forward Ademola Okulaja leads the team in both scoring (13.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg). He is followed by sophomore center Brendan Haywood's 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

The scoring continues with forwards Kris Lang and Jason Capel, who are adding 9.9 and 9.8 points per game, respectively.

Point guard Ed Cota runs the offense, averaging 11.1 points per game, while dishing out an ACC-best 7.8 assists. Cota now has 640 career assists and needs 10 more to pass Maryland's Keith Gatlin for 13th place on the ACC's all-time list.

The Tar Heels will get a boost on Saturday, as forward Vasco Evtimov will make his debut after serving an 18-game suspension (he played on a club team in France).

The Wolfpack have been one of the better offensive squads in the conference, averaging 78.1 points per game (fourth in the ACC).

The team is shooting 50.1 percent from the floor (third in the conference), including .393 from three-point range. 6-4 freshman Adam Harrington leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game. He is the top sniper for the Wolfpack, draining 41.7 percent from behind the arc (35-of-84).

The youth movement continues in the frontcourt, as sophomores Ron Kelley and Kenny Inge, add 11.9 and 11.6 points per game, respectively. Inge leads the team on the glass, pulling down 6.4 boards per contest. 6-7 junior Tim Wells adds 9.1 ppg.


Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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