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NC State heads to Winston-Salem aiming for a season sweep of Wake Forest

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NC State hasn’t put together a winning streak since the calendar flipped to 2021 but has the opportunity to rectify this in Winston-Salem on Saturday afternoon. In the three-and-a-half weeks since the first meeting, Wake Forest is 2-3 and comes in a loser of two straight, to FSU and Duke.

The Wolfpack controlled the majority of the game in Raleigh and led by 18 points with 11 minutes left before the Deacs got to cookin’ down the stretch.

— Since that game, NC State has lost Devon Daniels and Wake has gotten back Ian DuBose, a grad transfer from Houston Baptist. DuBose missed two months with an injury but has scored in double-figures in the three games he’s played since coming back. DuBose has been a high-workload guy throughout his career and gives the Deacs another weapon on the wing. I’d expect him to start.

— But Wake’s flaws haven’t gone anywhere, and it remains one of the most mistake-prone teams in the ACC. NC State forced the Deacs to turn the ball over 28% of the time in Raleigh while limiting them to 47% shooting inside the arc. Wake has the league’s worst 2FG% in ACC games. State limited Wake to just 0.94 points per possession.

— State’s overall defensive performance was good but the Pack does need to be better on the defensive glass this time around. Wake grabbed 38% of its misses in the first game, which is well above its average of about 27%.

— It’s fair to expect Wake will shoot a bit better from three after hitting only a third of its outside shots in Raleigh, but if the Pack can keep the turnovers coming while improving on the boards, that improvement can be mitigated.

— Devon Daniels scored 20 points against Wake to lead NC State, including a 3-4 effort from three. As a team, State shot 7-14 from outside. But State got just a combined 12 points from Braxton Beverly, Thomas Allen, and Cam Hayes. Manny Bates was also a non-factor offensively, finishing 1-3 from the field. So there’s room for improvement here, even without Daniels.

— Wake’s 2FG% and 3FG% defense rank 12th in ACC games: league opponents are hitting 38% of their threes and 53% of their twos. A little more emphasis on Bates and DJ Funderburk could make a substantial difference.

— KenPom has State by one.