Head coach Kevin Keatts is still tinkering with his new-look roster, which will have a third chance to make a positive impression before the competition ratchets up on Thanksgiving against Vanderbilt in Las Vegas.
Friday’s game against the Buccaneers (2-1) is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The game will be streaming on ACC Network Extra. Here’s a look at some things to know and a score prediction for the Wolfpack’s matchup with Charleston Southern.
NC State basketball’s Jayden Taylor pacing balanced Wolfpack
The Wolfpack had five different leading scorers in 34 games last season. Through two games this year, NC State has seen two players lead the team in scoring: DJ Burns Jr. and Jayden Taylor. With Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner gone, the Wolfpack will likely be more balanced and could have a different top scorer in every game. Taylor, a Butler transfer, is averaging a team-best 15.5 points as one of four players in double figures.
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Mohamed Diarra gives NC State something different
Missouri transfer Mohamed Diarra is nearly averaging a double-double through two games at 9.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. Only one player – Dereon Seabron – has averaged more than seven rebounds per game under Keatts. If Diarra can keep it up on the glass, he’ll give NC State a weapon it hasn’t had since Richard Howell averaged a double-double in the 2012-13 season.
Stanford transfer Michael O’Connell was NC State’s top facilitator in the first two games, averaging 4.5 assists with one turnover. As a junior for the Cardinal, O’Connell was 11th in the Pac-12 in assists and fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio. It’s a small sample size, but O’Connell has also drilled four of his seven 3-point attempts. If he can make outside shots and consistently get others involved, watch out.
NC State 83, Charleston Southern 65: This Pack squad has a chance to be the most balanced in the Keatts era. Following a rout of the Bucs, NC State will be ready to roll against Vandy.
Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @RoddBaxley on X/Twitter.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: NC State basketball vs. Charleston Southern: Scout report, prediction