NC State prepares for first March Madness with Kevin Keatts

Kevin Keatts looks on in Wichita at the NC State practice ahead of their game tomorrow. (Photo: WTVD)

WICHITA, KS (GoPack.com) – The NC State men’s basketball team opens play in the NCAA Tournament Thursday when it faces eighth-seed Seton Hall at 4:30 p.m. ET in a first round game held inside Intrust Bank Arena.

The game will be televised on TBS with Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn calling the action. NC State fans can also listen to Gary Hahn and Tony Haynes on the call on the Wolfpack Sports Network.

Pack Tracks
– NC State is making its 27th NCAA Tournament appearance and its fifth in the last seven seasons. The Pack went to the tournament from 2012-15, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2012 and 2015, before missing the tournament in 2016 and 2017.
– Thursday’s game against Seton Hall will be the sixth meeting all-time between the two programs. NC State holds a 3-2 series lead and won the last meeting between the two programs, 79-73, on Dec. 27, 2007 at Seton Hall.
– NC State has played in the 8 vs. 9 game in three of its last four NCAA Tournament appearances. The Pack was an 8-seed and lost to 9-seed Temple, 76-72, in 2013 and was an 8-seed and defeated 9-seed LSU, 66-65, in 2015.
– This is the second-time in its history NC State has entered the NCAA Tournament as the ninth seed. The Pack was the 9-seed in 2003 and dropped its first round game to 8-seed California, 76-74, in overtime.
– NC State has won at least one game in six of its last seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
– NC State has won four straight games when playing a Big East team in the NCAA Tournament (1-seed Villanova in 2015, 12-seed Xavier in 2014, 3-seed Georgetown in 2012 and 2-seed Connecticut in 2005)

Trends
– The Pack won 11 ACC games this season. It’s the seventh double-digit ACC win season for NC State since NC State went 12-0 in back-to-back season (1972-73 & 1973-74).
– The Pack’s 11-7 record in the ACC this season is the best for the program since 2012-13 team went 11-7 in the ACC.
– NC State had a 16-3 home record this season. It is the best home record since the 2012-13 team went 16-1 in Raleigh.
– Head Coach Kevin Keatts won 21 regular season games this season, tying Keatts with legendary coach Everett Case (21-4 in 1946-47) for the most wins in the regular season in first season as head coach of the Pack.
– NC State’s 11 ACC wins is the most for a first-year head coach in program history.
– The Pack has forced its opponent into an even or worse assist-to-turnover ratio in seven of the last 10 games.
– In the last 11 games only one team – Georgia Tech on March 1 – has shot better than 36% from three-point range against the Pack.
– In the last eight games, NC State is shooting 49.7% (78-of-157) from three-point range. During that same eight-game span, the Pack’s opponents are shooting 27% (38-of-141).
– During the last seven games, NC State has outscored its opponents 213-96 from the three-point line.
– The Pack ranks second in the ACC in opponent three point field goal percentage in overall games (31.5%) and ACC games (31.5%).
– NC State has hit more three-pointers than its opponent in 10 of the last 11 games (Notre Dame on Feb. 3 is only team to hit more 3-pointers than the Pack, 8-6).
– NC State has hit 252 three-pointers this season which ranks as the eighth-most in a single season in program history and the most in a single season since the 2005-06 team hit 288.
– NC State shot 50 percent or better in five consecutive games from 2/10-2/25. It is the first time the Pack has shot 50 percent or better in five consecutive ACC regular season games in the same season since the 1985-86 season when NC State shot 50 percent or better in five consecutive ACC games from 2/5/1986 to 2/23/1986.
– NC State is 14-2 this season when Torin Dorn grabs 6+ rebounds. The Pack is 7-8 when he grabs less than six rebounds. The Pack is 17-5 this season when Dorn scores in double figures, 4-6 when he doesn’t.

Allerik Freeman Leading Pack in Last Seven Games
In the last seven games, Allerik Freeman has led the Pack in scoring in each game and is averaging 20.3 points on 46.8% shooting, including 52.6% (20-of-38) from three-point range.
– Freeman has been at his best in the second half during his seven-game streak. The Charlotte native has scored in double figures in seven straight second halves and is averaging 12.9 points in the final 20 minutes. He is shooting 50% from the field, including 57.1% from three-point range in the second half.
– Freeman has led NC State in scoring in 15 games this season. The Pack is 10-5 when Freeman leads them in scoring.

Graduate Guard Sam Hunt On Fire as Season Heads to Finish Line
In the last seven games, Sam Hunt is 19-of-27 (70.3%) from three-point range. The Greensboro native is shooting 42.5% (51-of-120) from three-point range on the season.

Hunt Last 7 Games
Date Opponent 3-point shooting
Feb. 14 at Syracuse 4-6
Feb. 17 at Wake Forest 2-3
Feb. 20 Boston College 4-4
Feb. 25 Florida State 4-4
March 1 at Georgia Tech 0-1
March 3 Louisville 1-3
March 7 vs. Boston College 4-6

Pack Knocking Down Threes in Bunches
Over the last eight games, NC State is 78-of-157 (49.7%) from three-point range. Starting with the Feb. 10 game against UNC-Chapel Hill where the Pack was 7-of-13 from three-point range, NC State has not shot worse than 42.1% from three-point range.
– The Pack’s top three-point shooters in the last eight games are a combined 59-of-92 (64.1%) from three-point range. Allerik Freeman is 22-of-41 (53.7%), Sam Hunt is 19-of-28 (67.9%) and Braxton Beverly is 18-of-33 (54.5%).
– During that same eight-game span, the Pack’s opponents are shooting 27% (38-of-141).
– During the last seven games, NC State has outscored its opponents 213-96 from the three-point line.
– NC State has hit more three-pointers than its opponent in 10 of the last 11 games (Notre Dame on Feb. 3 is only team to hit more 3-pointers than the Pack, 8-6).
– On Feb. 9, the Pack was shooting 33.5% from three-point range and ranked 12th in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage. A month later as the Pack prepares to enter the NCAA Tournament, they are now shooting 37.2% from three-point range and rank fifth in the ACC.
– The Pack is 17-5 this season when it hits more three-pointers than its opponent, but 4-6 when its opponent connects on more three-pointers.
– NC State has hit 252 three-pointers this season which ranks as the eighth-most in a single season in program history and the most in a single season since the 2005-06 team hit 288.

Postseason Experience
NC State has three players on the roster with NCAA Tournament experience. Graduate guard Allerik Freeman has been in the last three NCAA Tournaments with Baylor. He advanced to the Sweet 16 last season while a member of the Bears. Lennard Freeman advanced to the tournament while a member of the Pack in 2014 and 2015. Freeman had a double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds) in NC State’s upset win over #1 seed Villanova in 2015. Malik Abu was also on the Pack’s Sweet 16 team in 2015 and also recorded a double-double (13 points & 12 rebounds) in the win over Villanova.

Yurtseven Named to All-ACC Third Team; Freeman & Johnson Honorable Mention
NC State sophomore center Omer Yurtseven was named to the All-ACC Third Team and graduate guard Allerik Freeman and sophomore guard Markell Johnson both received honorable mention in league awards that were announced on Sunday, March 4.
– Yurtseven averaged 13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in the regular season. He ranks 11th in the ACC in rebounding and eighth in blocked shots. He has also connected on 58.0 percent of his field goal attempts. He finished the regular season third in the ACC in field goal percentage and is on pace for the highest field goal percentage at NC State since TJ Warren shot 62.2 percent from the field in the 2012-13 season. Yurtseven and Duke’s Wendell Carter, Jr., are the only players in the ACC to rank in the top-25 in scoring, the top-15 in rebounding, the top-10 in blocked shots and the top-5 in field goal percentage.
– Freeman earned Honorable Mention honors after leading the Pack in scoring (15.3 ppg.) in his only season with NC State. The Charlotte, N.C. native ranked second on the team with 37 steals, third with 79 assists and fourth with 127 rebounds. Freeman led NC State in scoring 14 times this season, including the Pack’s final six games of the regular season.
– Johnson joined Freeman in earning All-ACC Honorable Mention honors. The sophomore guard led the ACC with an average of 7.5 assists per game. Johnson averages almost two more assists per game than the next closest player in the ACC. The Cleveland, Ohio native set an NC State record with five consecutive games of double-digit assists in the middle of the conference season. Johnson upped his assist average in ACC play, leading the conference with an average of 8.14 assists per outing. Johnson’s season assist average of 7.5 is the highest at NC State since Chris Corchiani averaged 9.6 assists per game in the 1990-91 season.

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