Editor's Note: UNC Asheville Associate Athletic Director Mike Gore began blogging last month as the UNC Asheville men's basketball team went on an eight-day road trip to Ohio State, Northeastern and St. John's. He will continue the blogs throughout the rest of the season. Here is his first blog in 2013.
One of the most amazing streaks I've ever seen in 27 years of working at UNC Asheville is our men's basketball team winning Big South Conference openers under Eddie Biedebach. With our 83-69 win over Liberty on Saturday, Coach Biedenbach's teams are 16-1 in BSC openers. That tough non-conference schedule that Coach Biedenbach plays always pays off when league play starts.
Since I last wrote after the amazing win at St. John's, the Bulldogs are 2-1 with an expected win over Bluefield on Dec. 30, a tough overtime loss at Charlotte last Wednesday and then the victory at Liberty. After going 1-6 in November, the Bulldogs are now 7-8 but most importantly 1-0 in league play.
Our program is at a point where moral victories aren't something we get too excited about anymore. And the loss at Charlotte stung as we really had a great chance to win. But I really liked the way we battled for 45 minutes against a 12-2 49er team. Charlotte was very tough on defense and contested every shot. We had a tough night shooting and shot a season-low 30 percent from the field. But somehow we kept battling, led for the first 25 minutes, fell behind by eight with four minutes left yet tied the game and had a chance to win at the end of regulation. The effort was great against a very good Charlotte team that will win a lot of games this season.
School hasn't started yet so we left a little earlier for Liberty on Friday than we normally does. Thankfully Brian Hall is back to do play-by-play for the game and set up the equipment!!! It's a pretty drive to Lynchburg and we get there around 3:45 p.m. We don't practice until 7 p.m., so it's off to eat at Golden Corral.
We've eaten at the Golden Corral the past two years and the staff is very nice to us. It is the busiest Golden Corral I've ever been to. I thought going at 4 p.m. that we'd beat the Friday night rush but it's packed.
Lynchburg is a little quiet as the students for Liberty aren't back yet. They have another two weeks before coming back for classes.
We know this will be a tough game as the Flames have bounced from a tough start to win their last three games. The last win was really impressive as they won at Western Carolina, 65-64 on Monday. Liberty led most of the game before the Catamounts went on a late run to lead by four with 10 seconds left. Amazingly, Liberty wins as they score the final five points of the game. WCU calls a timeout it doesn't have and the Flames hit both free throws to pick up the amazing win.
We have the unusual starting time of 6 p.m. on Saturday night. Our women are playing Liberty at 3 p.m. The team arrives at the arena at 4:30, watches the final 10 minutes of the women's game and gets ready for the game.
Tonight's game is televised by the Liberty Sports Network and is being broadcast back to Asheville. Tim Scarborough, who played at Liberty and was an assistant coach, does the color on the broadcast and is a good guy. I talk to him for a few minutes about tonight's game and as always he's impressed with the job Coach Biedenbach does.
Liberty has a full broadcast team for this. Mike Tilley and Tim do the broadcast, while they have three other people providing pre-game, halftime and post-game analysis. One of them is Matt Hildebrand who was a great point guard for Liberty in the early 90's when the Flames first came into the league. Seems like he played just yesterday but it's been almost 20 years. Time does fly.
We start out a little sluggish and Liberty is taking it to us. We fall behind early and suddenly we're down 10 points at the 10-minute mark. Gradually, we begin to rally behind our defense. Keith Hornsby had 10 points in the opening half and we're only down one at the half, 29-28.
In the second half, we really pick things up on offense. Will Weeks scores the first eight points of the half for us, and we get a lead.
But Liberty won't go away. They hit some three-pointers and make some nice plays on offense to tie the game at 45-45 with 12 minutes left.
Keith really gets going in the second half, and we take charge on offense. We score a season-high 55 points and win 83-69. Keith has a career-high 27 points, while Will Weeks also scores a career-high 15 points. Sam Hughes comes off the bench to score seven points. It's a great effort and a happy bus ride home.
16-1 in league openers. That's an amazing statistic. But while this win is nice, we know a tough game awaits us at Gardner-Webb Wednesday night.