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February 11, 2009

NC State's point guard's to face stiff test

NC State coach Sidney Lowe probably never envisioned who his starting point guard would be in the 22nd game of the season.

Lowe and the Wolfpack have been juggling between redshirt junior Farnold Degand, sophomore Javier Gonzalez and freshman Julius Mays, at the point guard position with all three earning multiple starts.

Degand has started 11 games, Gonzalez seven and Mays three. Gonzalez started the last game against Virginia Tech on Sunday, and will likely get the nod tonight against Wake Forest at the RBC Center.

Lowe is getting used to watching his point guards with a keen eye to see who might be the one who will get the bulk of the minutes, but piecing together the position one game at a time is frustrating.

"Depending on who you start first of all, and you're watching to see how he's playing, and there's different things can happen," Lowe said. "He can be playing OK and you can go with the second guy and you can come back to that first guy. But if he's out there and he's just not really into at all, not playing well at all, turning it over, something like that, doesn't look like he's ready, then you got to go down the line. We don't, I don't have time to wait.

"We need guys that are going to play. We're in the stretch run here. We're trying to win ball games and we need guys that are going to play."

Every other team in the ACC has had its starting point guard get 15 starts or more, and perhaps only Duke is unsettled at the position with starter Nolan Smith trying to hold off former starter Greg Paulus.

Lowe was hoping one of his three options would have settled the lineup by now.

"We were hoping Farnold, he's still dealing with his knee and still not quite right," said Lowe, who suspended Degand for the second time this season because of academics against VT, and whose status is uncertain for Wake Forest. "We were hoping that by this time he'd be ready to go full tilt even without the brace as some other players that have been in our conference has done, but his seems to lingers on right now.

"But yeah you would hope that someone would've emerged and taken control of it, but it hasn't happened. We've got to work with what we have. Like I said there's three of them over there, and most of the time one of them is going to play well."

The irony is that NC State is playing Wake Forest, who has current starter sophomore Jeff Teague, an All-ACC candidate, who is backed up by junior Ishmael Smith, who started all but one game his first two seasons.

Lowe said teams such as Wake Forest prove that it is easier to win in the ACC when arguably the most important position is stabilized.

Wake Forest preview

NC State 2008-09 roster

NC State schedule/results

NC State season stats

Wake Forest roster

Wake Forest schedule/results

Wake Forest season stats

Game facts

No. 7 Wake Forest (18-3, 5-3 ACC) at NC State (12-9, 2-6 ACC)

Game time: Today, Feb. 11, 7 p.m. - Raleigh, N.C.

Television: None

Probable starters

NC State

PG - Javi Gonzalez (5-11, Soph., 3.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.2 spg) or 24 Julius Mays (6-2, Soph., 4.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.0 apg)
SG -4 Courtney Fells (6-6, Sr., 12.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.3 apg)
SF - 23 Tracy Smith (6-8, Soph., 8.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.4 apg)
PF - 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, R-Jr., 14.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.0 bpg)
C - 34 Ben McCauley (6-9, Sr., 13.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 spg)

Wake Forest

PG - 0 Jeff Teague (6-2, Soph., 20.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 2.1 spg)
SG - 42 L.D. Williams (6-4, Jr., 8.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.9 spg)
SF - 23 James Johnson (6-9, Soph., 13.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.7 spg, 1.7 bpg)
PF - 1 Al-Farouq Aminu (6-9, Fr., 13.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg)
C - 13 Chas McFarland (7-0, Jr., 9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.9 bpg)

Scouting Wake Forest

Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Nickname: Demon Deacons

2007-08 record: 17-13, 7-9 ACC

2008 postseason: None

Coach: Dino Gaudio, 9th season overall (103-140) and 2nd season at Wake Forest (35-16)

The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 130-97

Last meeting: Wake Forest won 78-67 on March 8, 2008, in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Notes

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are two wins away from 1,400 (1,398-1,055) … Sophomore Johnson has 14 career double doubles and Aminu has eight in his freshman season … Teague leads the ACC with six 29-point-plus games this season and was named one of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which goes to the nation's top point guard … Backup point guard Ishmael Smith is 10 assists shy of 400 … Redshirt junior David Weaver started against Miami on Feb. 4 … WFU snapped BYU's 53-game home-court winning streak with a 94-87 victory on Jan. 3 … The Demon Deacons have lost three of their last five games, but defeated both North Carolina and Duke this year.

North Carolina State: Fells is 15 points shy of crossing the 1,000-point plateau at NC State. He is averaging 19.5 points over the last four games with 14 three-pointers … NC State has started 10 different lineups in 21 games this season … The Wolfpack have won the rebounding battle in 15 of 21 games … Wake Forest is the fifth ranked opponent NCSU has faced this season, and the Pack have lost the previous four games … Coach Sidney Lowe said both redshirt junior point guard Farnold Degand and redshirt junior shooting guard Trevor Ferguson could have their academic suspensions extended to two games and miss the WFU contest.


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