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Redshirt junior DJ Funderburk and sophomore forward Jericole Hellems smile after the Wolfpack win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Hellems scored 16 points and Funderburk scored 14 points against the Panthers. NC State beat Pittsburgh 77-73.

The NC State men’s basketball team will hit the road this week for its next two games of the season. Luckily, both games will be held in Connecticut as the Pack won’t have to do much traveling between games. NC State will play UMass Lowell on Thursday, Dec. 3 followed by UConn on Saturday, Dec. 5.

With the recent cancelation of William & Mary due to COVID-19 tracing within the program, the Pack will now face UMass Lowell in a make up game as a part of the Mohegan Sun's Bubbleville event. 

In the first two games of the season, the Pack defense has been powerful, finishing with 18 steals in its first game against Charleston Southern and 32 turnovers. Against North Florida, NC State forced 19 turnovers and finished with a total of 10 steals.

After ending the Mako Medical Wolfpack Invitational with a 2-0 record, the Pack hopes to take home a win Thursday against another nonconference opponent. To top it off, the Pack is also 10-0 all-time against teams from the America East Conference. 

UMass Lowell

While it is the Wolfpack’s first road game this season, it will also be the first-ever matchup between the two programs. 

The River Hawks have three games under its belt so far this season, defeating San Francisco 78-68 in its season opener, but falling to both Illinois and Ohio State with 10-point losses in both of its last two games.

UMass Lowell senior guard Obadiah Noel, has been a leading force for the River Hawks this season, averaging 24.0 points, 6.7 rebounds with 11 assists and two steals in the first three games. Noel was also awarded America East Player of the Week honors for his performance during the opening week.

With a hot start to the season, a strong starting lineup, and a talented group of freshmen, the Pack looks to go 3-0.

UConn

Heading into the weekend may pose a different challenge as the Pack heads over to Mohegan Sun Arena to take on the Huskies. Historically, these teams have met five times, with NC State pulling out the most recent victory over UConn (69-65) on Dec. 4. 2012. However, the Huskies have certainly hung in there with a 2-3 record in its history against NC State. 

NC State isn’t the only team coming off a hot streak as UConn has a perfect record so far, taking home a win against both Central Connecticut State and Hartford. 

Uconn sophomore guard James Bouknight led the Huskies in scoring for both games, finishing with a total of 20 points against Central Connecticut State and 18 points against Hartford.

With both teams eager to continue their winning momentum, the matchup between the two will certainly be one to watch. 

NC State will tip off with UMass Lowell on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4:30 p.m. and UConn Saturday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.