- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina State might be at its best when everyone just gets out of Trevor Lacey’s way.

“And that includes me,” coach Mark Gottfried said.

After leading the Wolfpack to their biggest win of the year, Lacey has the Wolfpack full of confidence entering Wednesday night’s home game against No. 15 North Carolina (12-4, 2-1). The Alabama transfer scored 21 points in an upset of then-No. 2 Duke on Sunday.

“If I’m scoring, it makes everybody else’s job easier,” Lacey said, because that opens things up for fellow guards Ralston Turner and Anthony “Cat” Barber.”

“They know I’ll pass them the ball if they’re open,” he said. “So a lot of guys want me to hit my first couple shots so defenses focus on me and I can get them easy shots.”

Lacey ranks fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring, averaging nearly 17 points for the Wolfpack (12-5, 3-1). His ability to play both guard positions - and hit difficult shots while being tightly guarded - makes him a tough matchup.

“One thing about Trevor is he’s had a history his whole life - and I’ve watched him prior to here - where he makes big shots, timely shots,” Gottfried said Tuesday. “I think that’s just part of who he is.”

When Lacey struggles, his team sputters. Two of N.C. State’s five losses have come in games he was held to single-digit scoring. But when he’s clicking, the Wolfpack are tough.

“They play with more confidence when he’s playing well,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

Lacey had just seven points in the first half last month against Louisiana Tech, and N.C. State was down by 18 points. He scored 13 after halftime and the Wolfpack won 73-65.

He hit five 3-pointers against Duke, including one with just under six minutes left that gave N.C. State its largest lead at 19 points. That made quite an impression on North Carolina guard Marcus Paige, who was watching on TV.

With the Wolfpack up by 16 with the ball, Paige said he told a friend that if N.C. State makes a 3-pointer the game’s over.

“And then Lacey hits a step-back 3,” Paige said. “It’s over.”


Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joedyap

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