ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville Bulldogs hit the road on Wednesday for a date with preseason Big South Conference favorite Charleston Southern at the CSU Fieldhouse starting at 7:30 p.m.
Asheville (8-9, 2-1 BSC) faces a Charleston Southern (8-6, 3-0 BSC) club that is unbeaten in league play with two of those BSC wins on the road. CSU is in first place in the South Division with the Bulldogs tied for second in the South with Coastal Carolina at 2-1.
Eddie Biedenbach's club is coming off a 79-61 victory over Radford Saturday afternoon at Kimmel Arena. The Bulldogs led the entire way against the Highlanders and played great defense in the victory. Senior forward Jon Nwannunu led the Dogs with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Jeremy Atkinson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Biedenbach knows his club will have its hands full with the Buccaneers on Wednesday evening. CSU was the only Big South Conference team to beat the Bulldogs at Kimmel Arena last season, 93-88. Asheville would avenge that loss with a 91-64 victory in the semifinals of the Big South Tournament.
"Charleston Southern is playing very well right now and is going to be quite difficult to beat anywhere right now," commented Biedenbach. "They have most of their team back from last year, and I'm sure are hungry to win even more than they did last season. We're going to have to be ready to play at our absolute best to have a shot at winning on Wednesday."
Atkinson leads Asheville in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (7.7). He's shooting .490 (101-of-260) from the field and .802 (77-of-96) from the free throw line. Sophomore guard Keith Hornsby is second in scoring with a 15.1 per game average. He'll be hoping to continue his school-record streak of 29 consecutive free throws on Wednesday night.
After Wednesday's game, Asheville will start a three-game homestand against league newcomer Longwood at Kimmel Arena on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Charleston Southern has won the last two times the teams have played at the CSU Fieldhouse. But the last time the teams played in Charleston was two seasons ago when the Bucs rallied for a 79-70 win on Feb. 15, 2011. Asheville has gone 11-2 in games against BSC opponents on the road since that loss.
Asheville has two players nationally ranked in statistics going into Wednesday's game. Sophomore guard Keith Hornsby is second nationally in free throw percentage at .957 (45-of-47). He has made 29 straight free throws entering Wednesday night's action. Junior center D.J. Cunningham is 10th nationally in blocked shots with a 3.06 per gave average. He blocked a career-high seven shots against Radford on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are 27-3 in their last 30 games against BSC opponents.
Jeremy Atkinson has scored in double figures in 16 of Asheville's 17 games this season, including a career-high 31 points vs. St. John's on Dec. 21.
Keith Hornsby has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games. He's averaged 18.8 points per game in that stretch.
Asheville limited Radford to just .292 shooting from the field on Saturday. That's the lowest field goal percentage by a Bulldog opponent this year.
The Bulldogs have won seven of their last 10 games. The losses have come to #7 Ohio State (90-72), at 14-2 Charlotte (71-63 in OT) and 78-71 at Gardner-Webb.
Seven of Asheville's nine losses have come by eight points or less, including two straight losses by just two points in November to #15 N.C. State (82-80) and USC Upstate (73-71).
As a team, the Bulldogs lead the Big South Conference in blocked shots with 94. Last season, Asheville blocked just 88 shots in 34 games. Eleven different players have recorded a blocked shot for the Dogs this year.