NC State Wolfpack vs. Tenn-Martin Tenn.-Martin Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 12th 2023

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North Carolina State has been encouraged on several levels after nearly a weeklong layoff in its schedule.

The Wolfpack will try to rebuild some momentum starting with Tuesday night’s game against visiting UT Martin in Raleigh, N.C.

The addition of wing MJ Rice, a transfer from Kansas, is expected to have long-term benefits. Rice made his Wolfpack debut in the team’s most recent game, scoring 11 points in less than 11 minutes off the bench in a 93-61 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore.

“I was just trying to figure out when he was ready,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said. “He gives us another dimension. We’ve been playing with six of our new dudes, now we add a seventh. It was good for MJ to see the ball go in the hole.”

NC State (6-2) has won two games in a row following a two-game skid that included a 72-52 loss against Ole Miss. Tuesday’s game will mark the Wolfpack’s return to PNC Arena after the UMES game was held at Reynolds Coliseum.

UT Martin (6-4) had an eight-day layoff before defeating visiting NCCAA member Ecclesia 110-52 on Sunday. Half of the Skyhawks’ victories have come against non-Division I teams.

Yet UT Martin coach Ryan Ridder saw signs of progress.

“Our guys sprinted back on defense and were really active in our gaps — we focused on off-ball awareness in practice this week and I thought we were really good on that side of the ball,” Ridder said. “It’s no secret that we can score the ball. We just have to keep growing defensively.”

Jordan Sears leads UT Martin with 19.0 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Keatts is looking for consistency from his NC State team.

“I love the versatility of the team. I’m starting to get one of the messages to these guys is, ‘I need consistent play,'” Keatts said. “And it doesn’t have to be from scoring. Who’s going to consistently do the little things; assist and get on the floor and defend and rebound the basketball.”

Rice gives the Wolfpack another potential scoring threat. They’ve been led by Jayden Taylor (14.9 ppg), Casey Morsell (13.9) and DJ Burns Jr. (13.8).

“I love the fact that when you go to scout us, you can’t really focus on one or two players because we got four or five guys that on any given night can lead us in scoring,” Keatts said.

–Field Level Media

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