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December 29, 2007

WCU coach returns to the RBC Center

Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter won't be needing a tour guide around the RBC Center today.

Hunter, who has been a head coach for 28 years, used to be an assistant coach for former coach Herb Sendek from 2002-2005, before getting hired to coach WCU.

Hunter and the 4-7 Catamounts are playing North Carolina State at 2:30 p.m. today at the RBC Center. The Wolfpack are riding a four-game winning streak, and have three nonconference games remaining before the ACC season tips off at North Carolina on Jan. 12.

Hunter's first season at NC State in 2002 resulted in the Wolfpack reaching the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and first NCAA Tournament bid since 1991.

N.C. State would go on to reach at least the ACC Tournament semifinals in each the last three years as well as receiving bids to the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to NC State, Hunter was a successful coach at Ohio, with his best teams led by future NBA players Gary Trent and Brandon Hunter. Hunter has had winning seasons in 23 years.

The Catamounts are struggling with a 4-7 record and have been beset by players getting suspended for violating team rules. WCU has set school records the last two years under Hunter for most 3-point field goals made, making 221 and 226 in their respective years.

Western Carolina preview

NC State 2007-2008 roster

Western Carolina roster

Western Carolina schedule/results

Game facts

Nonconference - Western Carolina (4-7) at NC State (8-3)

Game time: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m. - RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.

Television: None; ACC Select has the game online

Probable starters

NC State

PG - 10 Javi Gonzalez (6-0, Fr., 1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.8 apg)
SG - 4 Courtney Fells (6-5, Jr., 9.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)
SF - 11 Gavin Grant (6-8, Sr., 14.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg)
PF - 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, Soph., 10.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.0 apg)
C - 1 J.J. Hickson (6-9, Fr., 16.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg)

Western Carolina

PG - 13 Brigham Waginger (6-2, Soph., 5.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.9 spg)
SG - 23 Eric Wilson (6-1, Sr., 2.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF - 1 Brandon Giles (6-6, Soph., 11.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 apg)
PF - 4 Arnold Gore (6-6, Sr., 4.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.7 apg)
C - 34 Blake Gallagher (6-8, Fr., 6.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.6 apg)

Scouting Western Carolina

Location: Cullowhee, N.C.

Nickname: Catamounts

2006-2007 record: 11-20 overall, 7-11 in the Southern Conference

2007 postseason: None

Coach: Larry Hunter, 536-268 in 28 years overall, 27-44 at Western Carolina in three years

The all-time series with NC State: NC State leads 12-0

Last meeting with NC State: NC State won 79-53 during the 1999-2000 season

Notes

Western Carolina: Western Carolina's leading scorer, Nick Aldridge, was suspended for the Catamounts sixth game, and subsequently quit the team. He was averaging 18.8 points per game. Second-leading scorer, freshman point guard Michael Porrini, did not play in the last game against Presbyterian because of a violation of team rules. He is averaging 13.0 points per game ... The Catamounts have three North Carolina natives on the roster with Gallagher, Wilson and power forward Jake Robinson ... Western Carolina has several oppoenents that NC State has or will play, including Cincinnati, North Carolina Central, Presbyterian and Davidson.

NC State: NC State has won by an average margin of 33.3 points in the series with Western Carolina. There has been only one game that WCU came within 20 points against the Wolfpack. NCSU has won 11 games in Raleigh, and won once at Western Carolina in the 1986-87 season ... NC State has shot an impressive 53.7 percent from the field over the last two games, going 51 of 95 ... NC State is 8-0 when it out-shoots its opponent based on field goal percentage ... Grant is averaging 20.2 points and 5.6 rebounds over the last five games, going to the free-throw line a 46 times.


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