The NC State men's basketball team is looking to win all four games of the Glenn Wilkes Classic, with Auburn up next at 8:15 p.m. tonight in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Tigers, who are 2-2, feature a three-guard lineup with senior point guard DeWayne Reed, sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan and freshman wing Earnest Ross, who was a star at Cary Panther Creek. Ross has eagerly anticipated the chance to play the Wolfpack, who showed some recruiting attention toward him, but never offered him a scholarship.
Ross was a two-time All-State 4A selection his junior and senior year, and averaged 21 points, six rebounds and five assists per game in his last campaign. He played with NC State freshman forward Josh Davis in the North Carolina vs. South Carolina All-Star Game, and tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ross picked Auburn over South Florida.
Ross has gone 6 of 12 from three-point range his last two games against Central Florida and Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis (IUPUI). Ross went 6 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 4 on three-pointers en route to 16 points against IUPUI.
Besides Ross, Auburn also has Charlotte native Kenny Gabriel, a 6-8, 190-pound forward that helped lead United Faith to a runner-up finish in the 1A playoffs. Gabriel spent one year at Paris (Texas) Junior College before transferring to Auburn, where he signed out of high school. NC State also evaluated him, but did not offer.
Auburn coach Jeff Lebo has actively recruited North Carolina the last few years. The former UNC standout finished with 1,567 points and 580 assists with the Tar Heels, and shot 46.2 percent from three-point land and 87.8 on free throws.
The 6-1 Reed is the catalyst for the Tigers, and is averaging 18.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. He scored 24 against both Niagara and IUPUI, but is prone to turnovers, averaging 4.8 per game.
Sullivan was a key recruit for the Tigers and is averaging 15.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. The 6-1 guard had 22 against UCF and followed with 20 against IUPUI, thanks to going 4 of 5 from three-point range.
2009 postseason: Lost 74-72 to Baylor in the quarterfinals of the NIT
Coach: Jeff Lebo, 12th year overall (198-141) and sixth season at Auburn (83-78)
The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 4-3
Last meeting: NC State defeated Auburn 79-74 on Dec. 27, 1975
Auburn: The Tigers finished last in the SEC in free-throw shooting percentage at 60.6 percent, but have greatly improved this season. Auburn has gone 61 of 83 for 73.5 percent, which is second in the conference through four games Auburn is averaging 17.8 turnovers and just 11.5 assists, but are forcing an impressive 10.5 steals per game Reed was named a preseason second-team All-SEC selection Auburn will be moving into a new $92.5 million basketball arena and practice facility next year. The Auburn Arena will hold approximately 9,600 fans.
NC State: Smith has two double-doubles for points and rebounds through three games for the Wolfpack. He was three rebounds shy from having his third straight against Austin Peay on Saturday ... The Wolfpack were outscored 38-29 in the second half against Austin Peay, but held on to win 66-59 in front of 457 fans in attendance. Akron also outscored NC State 24-23 in the second half ... Freshman power forward DeShawn Painter scored the first points of his college career against Austin Peay, finishing with six, plus two rebounds in 12 minutes ... NC State was out-rebounded 37-32 by the Governors ... The Wolfpack had 16 assists and 11 turnovers against Austin Peay, with Gonzalez having eight assists for the second time this season.