Vanderbilt-NC State Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings hopes leading scorer John Jenkins is ready to go after he missed one game with an ankle injury.
North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried's top 3-point threat will likely be out for several games, but the Wolfpack could get a boost with the return of power forward C.J. Leslie.
The 18th-ranked Commodores meet N.C. State for the first time since the 2004 NCAA tournament Saturday night in the semifinals of the Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.
After injuring his right ankle in Sunday's 71-58 loss to Cleveland State, Jenkins was in street clothes Tuesday as Vanderbilt (2-1) completed its season-opening homestand with an 80-68 victory over Bucknell.
Stallings was pleased with the 35 bench points, especially the season-high 12 from freshman point guard Kedren Johnson, but he'd like to see Jenkins in the starting five Saturday. The junior guard leads Vanderbilt with 20.5 points per game, going 9 of 24 from long range.
"The trainers think he'll be okay by Saturday," Stallings said Tuesday.
Gottfried is not as optimistic about Scott Wood's prognosis. The junior forward, who hit 7 of 12 shots from beyond the arc in the first two games and is 13th all-time in program history with 142 3s, rolled his ankle less than two minutes into Wednesday's 60-58 victory over Princeton.
X-rays did not reveal any fractures, but senior transfer Alex Johnson and freshman Tyler Harris will likely see their minutes go up as Gottfried said Wood would be out "for a while."
Leslie's time on the sideline is over after serving a three-game suspension for receiving improper benefits from a friend and former N.C. State student in May.
"I understand the issue and regret what has occurred," Leslie said in a school release.
The sophomore averaged 11.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 2010-11.
The addition of Leslie could give the Wolfpack even more production from down low, as junior forward Richard Howell and center DeShawn Painter have had nice starts. Howell is averaging team bests of 16.3 points and 10.7 boards, while Painter is scoring 14.0 points and grabbing 7.0 rebounds per game.
Painter's jumper with 4.2 seconds left Wednesday gave N.C. State its fourth consecutive 3-0 start - and first under Gottfried.
With starting center Festus Ezeli (sprained right knee ligaments) out for two months, Stallings will need big efforts from seniors Lance Goulbourne and Steve Tchiengang against the Wolfpack's formidable frontline.
If Jenkins can't go, the Commodores will likely lean heavily on Jeffery Taylor on the offensive end. The junior is averaging 14.7 points on 50.0 percent shooting.
Taylor needs 30 points to move past Kevin Anglin for 16th place on the Commodores' all-time list with 1,390.
Vanderbilt has taken two of three against N.C. State, winning 75-73 in the last matchup March 21, 2004. That was the first time the Commodores advanced to the regional semifinals under Stallings.
Gottfried, the former Alabama coach, is 5-5 versus Vanderbilt.
The winner plays Monday night against Texas or Oregon State.
Updated November 18, 2011