NC State aims to add to Wake Forest's recent woes
As the faces have changed, so has the outlook for both North Carolina State and Wake Forest, who have fashioned recent transformations thanks to the transfer portal.
When the teams meet Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem, N.C., the newest players to the in-state rivalry could provide huge impacts.
Host Wake Forest (14-7, 6-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is in need of a positive outcome after a two-game skid, which includes the Demon Deacons' only home loss of the season last week to then-No. 10 Virginia.
Poor starts have been a disappointing recent theme for Wake Forest.
"There's no reason to start games like that defensively," said Demon Deacons coach Steve Forbes, who started to turn around the program last season thanks to transfers. "It's frustrating because we got a good basketball team. It's not the time of the year to be doing that. I don't like playing from behind. I like to be ahead."
NC State (16-5, 6-4) ought to be in a good mindset coming off Tuesday night's victory against visiting Notre Dame.
Wolfpack guard Terquavion Smith, who exited an 80-69 loss to North Carolina last Saturday on a stretcher, is back in the swing of things.
Smith scored 17 points versus the Fighting Irish despite making just 2 of 14 shots from the field.
"He only knows one speed," NC State coach Kevin Keatts said of Smith, who averages a team-leading 18.6 points per game. "He's going to play hard. I never worried about him going to the hole again."
While Smith has been with the Wolfpack for his entire career, other key players for NC State joined the team as transfers for this season. Those players include Jarkel Joiner from Mississippi and D.J. Burns, who was the Player of the Year in the Big South Conference for Winthrop. The duo has combined for 27.3 points per game.
"I always know I can score the ball," Joiner said. "I've been a scorer all my life."
Wake Forest defeated NC State twice last season, buoyed by a crop of transfers. The Demon Deacons have gone that route again with another round of success.
While Tyree Appleby (17.7 points) leads Wake Forest in scoring in his first season with the team, the defense might be under the most scrutiny. Only Appleby and Andrew Carr (11.8 points), also a first-year player with the team, have started every game this season for the Demon Deacons.
--Field Level Media
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