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NC State rides winning streak into ACC clash at UNC

Jan 17, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Terquavion Smith (0) celebrates after a victory against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina State will look for its fifth straight victory Saturday when it travels a short distance to Chapel Hill to face rival North Carolina in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.

NC State (15-4, 5-3 ACC) hasn’t lost in the new year, falling most recently Dec. 30 at Clemson. Since then, the Wolfpack have beaten two ranked opponents at home – Duke and Miami, both ranked 16th at the time – and captured road wins vs. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

A victory against North Carolina (13-6, 5-3) also would count as a Quadrant 1 win for the Wolfpack, bolstering their postseason resume.

“We have played really good basketball in this four-game stretch,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said this week. “I think ever since the Clemson game, we’ve had a wakeup call. And I think we’ve become a very defensive-minded team. So we can score the basketball, but I think we’ve done all of the little things, and I’ve had a lot of guys who have stepped up and played their roles and done a great job of it.”

NC State’s most recent victory came Tuesday at Georgia Tech, 78-66. Four NC State players scored in double digits, and Terquavion Smith led the way with 25 points and five assists.

The Wolfpack shot 50.9 percent from the floor and held the Yellow Jackets to 9.5 percent shooting from 3-point range.

UNC, 9-0 at home this season, has won four of its past five games overall since falling at Pitt on Dec. 30.

The Heels are coming off a 72-64 home victory over Boston College on Tuesday. UNC was powered by big man Armando Bacot’s 20 points, 16 rebounds and three assists.

Bacot needs just 17 rebounds to break UNC’s all-time rebounding record, held by Tyler Hansbrough at 1,219.

“He’s just not a normal player,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said of Bacot. “It’s hard to describe just how valuable and how great he is as a player, as someone to coach. … With Armando, there’s no guesswork. You know exactly what you’re going to get every practice, every game, and what he’s doing, statistically, is just unbelievable.”

–Field Level Media