The X-factor for both sides in Saturday’s UNC vs. N.C. State basketball game very well could be the Wolfpack’s Scott Wood.
One of the ACC’s best spot shooters, the 6-foot-6 junior wingman from Marion, Ind. has been almost alternating between hot and cold performances of late.
Against Boston College on Thursday in the ACC Tournament first round at Philips Arena, Wood had 22 points and helped key a 78-57 win.
In Friday’s 67-64 quarterfinal win over Virginia, Wood made only two field goals. But one turned out to be a pivotal 4-point play to end the first half and stake the Pack to a 36-33 lead at the break.
The second _ a 3-point jumper with 6:06 left in the game _ gave State a 58-49 cushion to use against the Wahoos’ final surge.
In the two UNC wins over State during regular season, Wood was held to 11 points in a 74-55 outcome in Chapel Hill and three points when the Heels took an 88-74 win in Raleigh.
But whether he’s on or off, Wood’s teammates want him to keep shooting.
“He’s a great shooter, and great shooters make a difference,” State’s C.J. Williams said. “Every time Scott takes a shot, I think it’s going in. That shot at the end of the half was just what we needed.”
If Wood is on-target this time, it will present the Tar Heels with a defensive problem they didn’t have to fret in the first two games.
But on the flip side, Wood will have to defend UNC’s Harrison Barnes most of the game. Barnes averaged 17.5 points in the two regular-season meetings.