ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men's basketball team returns to the hardwood Wednesday night when Big South Conference rival Coastal Carolina invades Kimmel Arena. Wednesday's game will tip at 7 p.m. and can be heard locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM). The game can be seen via video-streaming at www.uncabulldogs under the multimedia tag.
The Bulldogs (9-10, 3-2 BSC) face a tough task against their South Division rival. The Chanticleers (8-2, 3-2 BSC) roared past North Division leader VMI at home on Saturday, 72-49. CCU's defense is limiting opponents to just 62.8 points per game and teams are shooting just .419 from the field.
Asheville struggled but found a way to win Saturday at home against Longwood, 68-65. Jeremy Atkinson earned his fourth double-double of the year with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs hit three free throws in the final 35 seconds to earn the win.
Wednesday's game is crucial in the league standings as both teams are tied for second place looking up at South Division-leading Charleston Southern at 5-0.
"We didn't play as well as we could have on Saturday against Longwood, but it was nice to see us find a way to win the game," explained Bulldog coach Eddie Biedenbach. "We played some good defense down the stretch when the game was on the line. However, we're going to have play much better on Wednesday against Coastal Carolina.
"I'm very impressed with Coastal Carolina. We know Cliff Ellis is a good coach and he'll have them ready to play," added Biedenbach. "Our guys are going to have to be ready to play hard for 40 minutes. Coastal does a great job on defense and in its rebounding. They have an excellent backcourt that's tough for anybody to stop."
Asheville continues to be led in scoring by senior forward Jeremy Atkinson. He's emerging as one of the top players in the Big South this season with a 16.9 scoring average and 7.8 rebounding mark. Keith Hornsby will bring his streak of 41 straight free throws made on Wednesday. Hornsby leads the nation in free throw shooting at .966 (57-of-59). He's the Bulldogs second leading scorer with a 14.6 average. Freshman forward Will Weeks is averaging 14 points per game in league play and leads the Big South in conference games in field goal shooting at .692 (27-of-39).
Senior guard Anthony Raffa leads the CCU attack with an 18.8 average. He's joined by one of the top play-making guards in the league in senior Kierre Greenwood. He's averaging 13.4 points per game and dished out 73 assists on the year.
Coastal Carolina leads the series 32-30 as the teams split home wins last year. Asheville downed the Chanticleers, 88-81 at Kimmel Arena on Jan. 17. CCU held off the Bulldogs, 74-69 at Kimbel Arena on Feb. 14. The Dogs have won three of the last four games against the Chants. Coastal Carolina has won two of its last three games in Asheville against the Bulldogs, including an 80-59 thrashing at Justice Center two years ago. The 21-point margin was the Dogs worst home defeat in the last five seasons.
UNC Asheville has won 10 straight Big South Conference games at home dating back to last season and including the league tournament that was held at Kimmel Arena in 2012. Asheville's average margin of victory has been 17.2 points in those 10 wins. The Bulldogs are 13-1 all-time in Big South Conference games at Kimmel with the only loss being a 93-88 defeat to Charleston Southern on Jan. 19, 2012. Overall, Asheville is 21-3 in Kimmel and 6-1 this year.
Asheville leads the Big South Conference in blocked shots with 107 and a 5.6 per game average. Junior center D.J. Cunningham leads the Bulldogs and the Big South in blocks at 54 and a 3.0 per game mark. He is 11th nationally in this category.
UNC Asheville had had league honors in three of the past five weeks. Keith Hornsby was named Big South POW on Dec. 17, followed by Jeremy Atkinson POW's honor on Jan. 2. Will Weeks was named Big South Freshman of the Week on Jan. 14.
Asheville had a season-low eight turnovers against Longwood on Saturday.
The Bulldogs won on Saturday despite going 1-of-12 from the 3-point line.
Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach will reach some milestones with his next victory. Eddie goes into the Coastal Carolina game with 274 career wins, 249 victories at Asheville and 149 BSC wins.
Keith Hornsby has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games.
The Bulldogs are 28-4 in their last 32 games against Big South Conference opponents. They are 22-4 in regular-season league games during that time.