Raleigh, NC – The Western Michigan Broncos look to pull off an upset as they visit PNC Arena for a non-conference tilt with the No. 23 NC State Wolfpack.
The Broncos completed an 87-66 rout of Mount St. Mary's last week to lift their record to 8-4 on the season. The victory improved WMU to 4-0 at home, but has managed just a 2-4 mark in away games so far. The Broncos have faced some tough competition on the road and even managed to down South Florida by five points in Tampa. However, the team did suffer back-to-back lopsided losses at Michigan (73-41) and Illinois State (85-63) to begin December. Coach Steve Hawkins aims to slow the pace down as his squad is averaging 67 points and 39 rebounds per game while its opponents are producing 63.5 points and 30.3 boards per contest.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack will be looking to extend their home winning streak to eight games after its 92-73 triumph over St. Bonaventure at PNC Arena last Saturday. The victory was also the fifth consecutive for NC State, which is now 9-2 overall. Its only setbacks came to Oklahoma State (76-56) and Michigan (79-72), but NC State has since earned wins over formidable opponents, including Connecticut (69-65), Cleveland State (80-63), and Stanford (88-79). The Wolfpack are an explosive bunch on offense as they are generating 80.5 ppg on a Division I best 53.4 percent shooting from the floor. The opposition has not been anywhere near as successful, as NC State is holding foes to 69.7 ppg with a .404 field goal percentage.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. Both lost to Michigan, which is their only common opponent this season.
Junior center Shayne Whittington passed the 20-point mark for the second game in a row with a career-best 24 points to push the Broncos to their 21-point victory over Mount St. Mary's their last time out. WMU shot the lights out by going 32-of-53 from the floor with 21 assists, which set a season-high for the team. Freshman Darius Paul also notched a new-career best with 19 points and Brandon Pokley chipped in 15 points. Sophomore Austin Richie did a great job distributing as evident by his eight assists. Nate Hutcheson, who finished with five points, eight rebounds, and four assists versus the Mountaineers, still leads the team in the scoring column with 12.3 points per game. Paul (12 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Whittington (11.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg), and Pokley (10.3 ppg) are all owners of double-digit scoring averages as well.
NC State also received an offensive outburst in its last appearance as C.J. Leslie exploded for a career-high 33 points to guide his team to an easy 19- point decision over the Bonnies. The Wolfpack knocked down 57 percent of their field-goal attempts and outscored SBU, 22-13, at the free-throw line en route to the win. Scott Wood also made a big contribution with 23 points which was powered by a 5-of-7 performance from 3-point range. T.J. Warren came off the bench to net 13 points and seven rebounds and Lorenzo Brown dished out 11 assists, while running the show. Leslie is leading the five NC State players with double-digit scoring averages with 15 ppg and Richard Howell (13.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg) is a consistent double-double threat. Heralded freshman Rodney Purvis is only scoring 9.4 ppg 11 games into his career, but the rookie guard may need to step it up as the Wolfpack near conference play.