NC State faces Pitt in matchup of struggling teams

NCAA

North Carolina State or Pittsburgh at least should show signs of getting back on track Wednesday before their seasons slide off the rails completely.

The teams meet in Pittsburgh with the goal of reversing trends that are going in the wrong direction.

“We have to make shots and we have to execute better,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said. “But it would help if we make some shots.”

Pittsburgh (9-7, 5-6 ACC) has lost five of its past six games. Four of those setbacks have come by 10 points or less, including a 71-65 loss Sunday at Georgia Tech.

NC State (8-9, 4-8) has dropped four of its past five games.

“What I’m looking for us just to play better, to start off with that part of it,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said.

Pitt’s Ithiel Horton has scored in double digits in four of the past five games.

“Ithiel is a good player,” Capel said. “We need him to lead all the time.”

That has offered another offensive source for Pitt alongside ACC scoring leader Justin Champagnie (18.7 points per game). Teammate Au’Diese Toney is 15th in the league in scoring at 14.2, while NC State doesn’t have an active player averaging more than Jericole Hellems’ 13 points per game.

“He’s a tough matchup,” Keatts said of Champagnie. “He can score … inside and out. It’s unbelievable how he is rebounding the basketball.”

There could be good battles in the lane. NC State’s Manny Bates tops the ACC in blocked shots with 2.9 per game. Champagnie is the conference’s top offensive rebounder at 3.3 per outing. He’s also the overall rebounding leader with 11.6 per game, though he had a season-low six rebounds in the Georgia Tech game.

NC State’s 2-for-10 shooting on 3-pointers in Saturday’s 69-53 home loss to Duke was partly responsible for the Wolfpack’s season-low point total.

One of NC State’s top perimeter threats normally would be Braxton Beverly, who is averaging only 6.1 points per game. He’s 20-for-52 on 3-pointers.

Beverly missed time in the Duke game because of back and hip ailments.

“We’re just trying to get him back aligned and see how he can go,” Keatts said.

This is the first of three straight scheduled road games for the Wolfpack.

–Field Level Media

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