ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men's basketball team begins a three-game homestand Thursday night when the Bulldogs host USC Upstate at Kimmel Arena starting at 7 p.m.
Thursday's game will be video-streamed and can be seen under the multimedia tag at www.uncabulldogs.com. The game will be broadcast locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m.
Asheville (1-5) looks to break a five-game losing streak but it won't be easy against a very good USC Upstate (2-4) team that is picked by many to win the Atlantic Sun Conference this season.
The Bulldogs are coming off an 82-80 loss at #15 N.C. State last Friday. Asheville led most of the way before the Wolfpack rallied in the final minutes to deny the Bulldogs the upset win. Jeremy Atkinson scored a career-high 28 points in the loss. Keith Hornsby also had a career-high in points with 23 against N.C. State.
"We really played well at N.C. State Friday night and if we can get that kind of effort every night then we have a chance to have a good team," stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "Now we need to play that way every game starting Thursday night against USC Upstate."
Biedenbach is very impressed with the Spartans. Upstate went 21-15 last year and nearly beat the Bulldogs at Kimmel Arena. Asheville trailed 81-72 with less than four minutes remaining but went on an incredible 16-0 run to the end game and win, 88-81.
"We were fortunate to win last year as Upstate outplayed us for most of the game," commented Biedenbach. "They've got their entire starting line-up back from last year. We're going to need to play well for 40 minutes to have a chance at winning."
Atkinson is off to a great start this season and leads the Bulldogs in scoring with an 18.8 average. He also tops the club in rebounding at 8.0 boards per game. Hornsby is averaging 12 points per game.
The Spartans are led by junior forward Torrey Craig who is averaging 17.2 points per game. He scored 28 against Asheville last season and was the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year.
- 1. The Bulldogs hold a 7-5 series edge against the Spartans in a series that dates back to the 1970's when the school was known as USC Spartanburg. The teams have met just twice as Division I members, and the games have occurred over the last two years. Two years ago in Spartanburg, USC Upstate won a wild double overtime 93-91 decision. Last year at Kimmel Arena, the Bulldogs rallied for an 88-81 victory. Asheville scored the final 16 points of the game as the Dogs trailed 81-72 with less than four minutes remaining.
- 2. The UNC Asheville basketball program moved into Kimmel Arena last season, and the Bulldogs have enjoyed their new home. Asheville has gone 16-2 in its new digs after a 71-61 victory over Western Carolina on Nov. 9 to open the season.
- 3. Junior center D.J. Cunningham leads Asheville in blocked shots this season with 11 after posting two at N.C. State last week. Cunningham has moved into a tie for seventh place on Asheville's career list for blocked shots. Entering tonight's game, he is tied with Milton Moore for seventh place with 98.
- 4. Sophomore guard Keith Hornsby struggled with his shooting to start the season but since the Tennessee game (11-15), he's found a groove. Keith is Asheville's second leading scorer going into Thursday with a 12.0 average after a career-best 23 points at N.C. State. In the past four games, Hornsby is shooting .615 (24-of-39) from the field and three-point line (8-of-13). For the season, Keith is shooting .543 (25-of-46) from the field, .933 (14-of-15) from the free throw line and .533 (8-of-15) from the 3-point line.
- 5. Junior guard Trent Meyer has really established himself as Asheville's starting point guard. He leads the team with 23 assists and has 19 in the last four games, including a career-high seven at N.C. State last Friday night.
- 6. The Bulldogs are starting to heat up from the three-point line. Asheville opened the season by not making a three-pointer against Western Carolina (0-of-7) and went 3-for-30 from long distance in the season's first three games. In the last three games, Asheville is shooting .415 (17-of-41) from long distance. Keith Hornsby and Trent Meyer each have eight treys on the year.