Wolfpack returns to Reynolds Coliseum; Hosts Bethune-Cookman

Raleigh, NC – The NC State men’s basketball team returns to James T. Valvano Arena at William Neal Reynolds Coliseum Thursday evening to face Bethune-Cookman in the program’s annual Heritage Game.

photo by Gene Galin

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on Regional Sports Networks with Bally Sports South showing the game in North Carolina. A complete list of affiliates showing the game can be found here.

NC State will honor the 1970 ACC Championship team at halftime of Thursday’s game. The 1970 team upset third-ranked South Carolina, 42-39, in double overtime to capture the ACC Championship.

The first 1,000 fans to enter Reynolds Coliseum on Thursday night will receive a throwback championship howl towel.

Pack Tracks

– NC State dropped its ACC-opener on Saturday afternoon, falling to Louisville, 73-68. NC State trailed by 14 at halftime, but opened second half by outscoring the Cardinals, 30-11, to take a 59-54 lead. The Pack still led 68-64 with under three minutes to play, but Louisville outscored NC State 9-0 to end the game.

– Senior forward Jericole Hellems led four NC State players in double figures with 18 points. Terquavion Smith added 17, Cam Hayes posted 15 and Dereon Seabron finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points.

– Redshirt sophomore guard Dereon Seabron was named ACC Player of the Week on Dec. 6 for his efforts in the games against Nebraska and Louisville. The Norfolk, Va., native posted career-highs in points (39) and rebounds (19) to lead NC State to a four OT win over Nebraska. Both totals are the highest for any player in the Kevin Keatts era and the best performances in points and rebounds for any ACC player this season. Seabron scored 33 of his 39 points in the second half and overtimes.  Seabron has won ACC Player of the Week honors twice in four weeks this season.

– Freshman guard Terquavion Smith was named ACC Freshman of the Week on Dec. 6 for his efforts in the games against Nebraska and Louisville. In his ACC-debut, Smith went for 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Louisville. In the win over Nebraska, the Greenville, N.C., native had a career-best 11 rebounds.

Noting Bethune-Cookman

– Bethune-Cookman did not play in the 2020-21 season. It only has two returnees from the 2019-20 team and is adjusting to life in a new conference. The Wildcats are in their first season in the SWAC after 40 years in the MEAC.

– The Wildcats are under the leadership of a new head coach as former NBA player Reggie Theus is in his first season as head coach.

– Bethune-Cookman was picked to finish 10th in the preseason SWAC poll.

– Sophomore guard Joe French was named SWAC Player of the Week on Dec. 2 after games of 25 points against Liberty and 30 points against 21st-ranked Seton Hall. For the season, French averages 15. 9 points per game and is shooting 40.7 percent from three-point range.

Thursday Storylines

– The Pack has won 28 consecutive regular season home games against non-conference opponents and has a 35-1 record against non-conference opponents in regular season home games under Kevin Keatts.

– The Pack is 22-2 since the 1999-2000 season when playing at Reynolds Coliseum. (1999-2000 season was the first for the program at PNC Arena).

– NC State has valued the basketball this season. They’ve had single digit turnovers in five of eight games this season and ranks fifth in the ACC with an average of 10.38 turnovers per game. The Pack did not have a turnover in the second half against Louisville. Point guard Cam Hayes has just six turnovers in 205 minutes this season (average of one turnover every 34.2 minutes played).

– NC State has made a living at the free throw line this season. The Pack is averaging 26 free throw attempts per game which ranks as the most in the ACC. For the season, NC State has made 14 more free throws (151) than its opponents have attempted (137).  NC State has three players ranked in the top-15 in the ACC in free throw percentage: Jericole Hellems (4th – 87.25, Cam Hayes (7th – 83.3) and Dereon Seabron (14th – 74.6). Saturday’s game against Louisville marked just the second time all season that NC State didn’t make more free throws than its opponent.

– Block Party: After losing two-time defending ACC block shot champion Manny Bates in the opening minute of the season, it would be understandable to expect NC State to take a step back in shot blocking. And thru the first three games of the season this held true. The Pack only blocked seven shots total in the first three games of the season. But NC State has begun swatting shots with regularity over the last three games, blocking 29 in the last four games and now leads the ACC in blocks with an average of 5.13 per game. Sophomore forward Ebenezer Dowuona set a then career-high with six against Louisiana Tech and then came back last Wednesday to block eight in the 4OT win over Nebraska. He ranks fourth in the ACC in blocks with a 2.63 blocks per game average.

– Finding points off the bench continues to be an issue for the Pack this season. Through the first three games, NC State was averaging 24 points off the bench and outscoring the opponent’s bench by 13 points. In the last five games, NC State’s bench has scored a total of 50 points (10.0 per game) and has been outscored by 110 points by the opponent’s bench. On Saturday, NC State had zero bench points (first time in Keatts era) while Louisville’s had 28. In its two losses this season, the Pack has been outscored 84-5 in bench points. Entering this season, NC State had outscored the opponent’s bench by 850 points in the Kevin Keatts era. With Manny Bates (out for the season), Greg Gantt (not played in a game this season) and Casey Morsell (ankle sprain, missed Louisville game) missing time, NC State has had just 10 scholarship players available (nine against Louisville) for the majority of the season.

NC State – Bethune-Cookman Series

– Thursday marks the first meeting between the two programs.

– NC State is 9-0 all-time against current members of the SWAC. The Pack beat SWAC member Texas Southern, 65-57, on Nov. 21.