Cleveland State at No. 25 North Carolina State Game Preview
Cleveland State could have freshman guard Junior Lomomba back for Saturday's game at No. 25 North Carolina State.
"Junior's foot is just a bad bruise," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said during his weekly media gathering on Tuesday. "He's probably playing at a 40 percent clip, but that 40 percent might be 80 percent of some of our other guys."
Lomomba, CSU's top recruit, broke his left foot during CSU's summer league and missed the first five games of the season. On Nov. 28, Lomomba re-injured his foot during the Ball State game and missed Saturday's game against Toledo.
CSU (6-2) will be without sophomore forward Anton Grady (13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game), who had surgery this week to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. He's out three to four weeks and could be a candidate for a redshirt.
"It's not the same meniscus that he had surgery [during the offseason]" Waters said.
The Vikings are coming off back-to-back wins at Ball State (69-63) on Nov. 28 and Toledo (78-73).
CSU will have their hands full Saturday against a NC State team that is favored to win by 18.5 points.
The Wolfpack (5-2) were picked to win the ACC in the preseason poll over national powerhouses Duke and North Carolina.
They are coming off a 69-65 victory over Connecticut on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. Their two losses on the season came against Oklahoma State (neutral court) and at nationally-ranked Michigan.
"They have four McDonald's All-Americans," Waters said. "We got to come up with a great game plan to be in this [game]."
Without Grady in the lineup, CSU could have some problems matching up with NC State's size as they have six players 6'8" or taller.
All five of NC State's starters average in double-figures.
They're led by junior forward C.J. Leslie, the preseason ACC player of the year, who averages 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game.
"He's 6'9" and moves like he's 6'6"," Waters said.
Their leading scorer is 6'8", 250-pound senior center Richard Howell, who averages 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.
"He's as big as a horse, but is mobile," Waters said.
Their point guard junior Lorenzo Brown (11.3 points) is a preseason All-ACC first-team selection and is third in the ACC in assists per game (5.9).
"Their point guard is really heady and is a former McDonald's All-American," Waters said.
Senior forward Scott Wood (10.9 points per game) is their best shooter and has made 248 three-pointers in his career.
"They consider him the best shooter in the country," Waters said.
Freshman forward TJ Warren (13.4 points), a McDonald's All-American last year, has started their last two games.
They have another McDonald's All-American coming off the bench in freshman Rodney Purvis (9.6 points), who was selected preseason ACC Newcomer of the Year.
"The thing that makes them different from Michigan is they don't shoot the ball as well," Waters said.
CSU is 6-36 all-time against ranked teams, with five of those wins coming under Waters. NC State is 6-2 all-time against teams from the Horizon League.
The game will be televised live on Fox Sports South and ESPN3.
Tom Mieskoski is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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