Brian Olmo | Staff Writer
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing a cat and a dog fight each other, you know it gets ugly real fast. Tonight’s game between the Panthers and the Wolfpack is going to be just that: ugly.
The FIU Panthers face off against a hungry NC State Wolfpack tonight at 9:00 PM at PNC Arena.
Coming off a disappointing 11-21 season, the Wolfpack are looking to start strong early, which puts FIU smack dab in the middle of their crosshairs. NC State so far has gone 2-0 this season, taking Austin Peay and Campbell behind the woodshed.
The last time these two teams went head-to-head was in 2019, when NC State took the victory over FIU 86-77. Six Wolfpack players finished with double-digit points, with senior guard C.J. Bryce leading with 16.
This is going to be an absolute slugfest between two undefeated teams. Winning against this squad won’t be easy for the Panthers, especially this early on in the season.
NC State doesn’t have any noticeable weaknesses in their game either, making this matchup difficult to gauge. They shoot well from beyond the arc (33.3 3FG%), have a solid interior game (56. FG%) and are solid rebounders and rim protectors (36.0 RPG, 5.5 BPG).
Now for the elephant in the room. This is an away game, and FIU’s record on the road inspires anything but confidence. Last season, this team had a putrid 1-11 record away. Some can argue that this isn’t the same squad as last year, but this trend is a constant throughout all of FIU’s seasons. The Panthers haven’t won more than 6 away games since 2001.
Sophomore guard Terquavion Smith is an absolute problem for defenses. He is the prototype of everything a guard should be: fast, crafty and a perimeter pest, knocking down a plethora of 3’s while locking down opposing guards. He’s averaging 22.5 PPG on 55.6 FG% and 43.8 3FG%.
Winning this game for FIU is going to involve a team effort. It can’t just be one player dominating; everyone is going to have to chip in. Sophomore guard Denver Jones, who has played brilliantly so far this season, will look to do his usual thing and lead the team.
If FIU manages to pull away with this one, it’ll mark their first win against a Power Five opponent since 1998, when they beat Michigan 69-62.
All the signs point to this being an exciting, high-scoring game. But, given FIU’s record with road games in the past and the strength of the opponent, expect the Wolfpack to scrape by a very potent FIU offense.
Tune in to the game at 9 PM on Bally Sports Sun.
NC State: 88
Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11