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NC State Welcomes the University of Tennessee at Martin

We’re playing UT (Martin) in NC, UT (Knoxville) in Texas, and played Vanderbilt in Vegas. No trips to Tennessee this season.

DJ Burns takes it to the rim at the Heritage game- Coach Keatts thinking, “If only he defended that well”

When: Tuesday December 12 – 7:00 PM ET

Where: PNC Arena

Opponent: University of Tennessee – Martin Skyhawks (Ohio Valley Conference)

TV: ACC Network

Preseason Conference Prediction: 4th (of 11) in the OVC

Pomeroy Prediction: Wolfpack 91-73

Wolfpack Snapshot: KP #70, NET #57, 6-2 (Home 4-0, Away 1-1, Neutral 1-1)

Wolfpack Season So Far:

  • The Pack is 6-2, but the NCAAT ‘resume cupboard’ looks a wee bit bare at this point. Happily, no bad losses, but only one win worth pointing at.
  • We have 1 Q1 loss, are 1-1 in Q2 games, and have won our 5 Q4 games. UT Martin is another opportunity to add to our growing Q4 win count, or stumble horribly.
  • After UTM, 2 of the next five (bookends Tennessee & UVA) are currently Q1 opportunities. Notre Dame is currently a Q3.

Checking our losses:

  1. BYU lost to Utah and slipped to NET #3
  2. Ole Miss is still undefeated NET #84

Wolfpack Injury Report:

Everyone played in the Heritage game.

Opponent Overview:

Fun Facts: Famous UTM basketball alumni – The legendary Pat Summitt (UT WBB) and not quite so legendary Leonard Hamilton (FSU MBB)

Coach Ryan Ridder is very familiar with our area, his first coaching job was as an assistant at North Raleigh Christian. He begins his third season at UTM leading a program on the upswing. He started his first season with zero returning players and they only won 8 games, last season they won 19 – the second greatest turnaround in school history – made it to the conference semi-finals, finished in third place, and he received a nice contract extension.

This season Coach Ridder returns six players and has added eight (=14?) newcomers and the team is preseason picked for 4h in the OVC. One thing you notice immediately when reviewing the roster, they are experienced. There is 1 freshman, 10 Juniors, and 3 Seniors.

Last season they ranked in the top 15 in scoring, fast break points, and rebounding. They are beginning this season similarly, averaging 87 Ppg, shooting 45.7% / 36.4% and out rebounding their opponents by 5 Rpg.

Coach Ridder expects to build on last season’s solid foundation and compete for the OVC title.

Their Season So Far:

The Skyhawks (KP #259) are 6-4 on the season. Three of their games, all lopsided wins, have been against National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) teams (skewing their season stats), the other 7 against D1 opponents. They are 3-4 in D1 play, beating (our pal, coach AW Hamilton – no relation to Leonard) on the road at Eastern Kentucky (KP #232), at home against North Alabama (KP #210), and on the road versus Chicago State (KP # 328). They won their most recent game (12/10), against an NCCAA school, Ecclesia, 100-52.

Team Comparison

Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PTM pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PTM pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
NCS 80.3 45.7% 33.1% 7.3 37.6 14 9.8 8.4 2.8
UTM 87 45.7% 36% 10 45.3 15.4 13.2 7.8 2.3

Player Notes:

Returning starters junior guard Jordan Sears and senior forward KK Curry are preseason OVC All-Conference selections.

PG Jordan Sears is one of those shorter (5’11”) ball players that is really good at everything. He leads the team in minutes per game, FGA, points, 3PT %, and assists. He gets to the free throw line more than anyone on the team and shoots 75%. He is the primary ball handler, and as such, turns the ball over twice as much as anyone else, averaging 3.4 TO per game.

The Skyhawks are a very good 3PT shooting team shooting 36% as a team, with the 2 players taking the most 3PT shots (Sears, Jacob Crews) shooting better than 40%.

Key Player Injuries – Not Expected to Play

Forward Issa Muhammad did not play against Ecclesia. Lightly used junior David Kamwanga started in his place. Kamwanga had previously only played in 4 games and played as many as 6 minutes once. If Muhammad does not play, this is a critical loss for the Skyhawks.

Probable Starters (Muhammad or Kamwanga)

Player Class Pos Height Weight PPG 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST BLK STL
Player Class Pos Height Weight PPG 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST BLK STL
Crews JR SF 6'8" 210 16.7 41.8% 6.7 9 1.2 0.5 1
Sears JR G 5'11" 185 19 47.8% 4.6 3.6 4.5 0.1 1.1
Curry SR F 6'6" 205 8.8 22.2% 0.9 4.5 0.7 0.6 0.9
Muhammad SR F 6'9" 245 11.2 25.0% 0.8 8.9 1.9 0.4 1.2
Jeffries RJR G 6'3" 195 3.6 25.0% 2.4 2.2 1.3 0.4 0.2
Kamwanga JR F 6'7" 220 1.8 0.0% 0.0 2.2 0 0 0

Keys To The Game

The secret to any Skyhawks success in this game relies heavily on them making 3PT shots. They pride themselves on toughness, getting the offensive rebound and the 50/50 ball, but the 3PT shot is their most dangerous weapon. They have taken 275 this season (for comparison, the Pack has taken 175, BYU has taken 263), and average making 10 per game. In their most recent 4 D1 games, they have averaged 28 3PT shots taken and shot better than 43% as a team. They made 16 3PT shots in their most recent D1 game against McNeese St.

  • Guard the ball – Sears is the star of this team. Keeping him under control is critical. He scored 34 points earlier in the season, he had 9 assists in a game, AND he had six turnovers at EKU.
  • Guard the wing – JUCO transfer Junior Jacob Crews is the second-best player on this team, and if you ask him, he might tell you he’s the best (and talk your ear off about missing the all-conference team). He has an argument. He has scored over 20 points in five games and gotten 9 or more rebounds in 6 games. He takes the most 3PTA (13 in one game) and hits 43.5%. He also had 4 steals in a game.
  • Block out on the boards – Crews leads the team at 9.0 Rpg (2.7 ORpg, 16.7 Ppg). Senior center Issa Muhammad averages 8.9 Rpg (2.6 ORpg, 11.2 Ppg) (18 rebounds in one game). They both are very good offensive rebounders (they would currently equate to 5th & 6th in the ACC) as well as the 2nd and 3rd leading scorers, both shooting over 50% FG%, so they are frequently scoring off put backs.
  • Reminder - Did I mention, guard the 3PT arc?

For The Wolfpack to Win

The Pack is heavily favored and if we defend as well as we can, should win this comfortably. This is our last game before meeting Top 20 Tennessee in San Antonio, so a very important game to prepare, but we can’t overlook the Skyhawks.