ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville Bulldogs look for their sixth straight win on Saturday when they host Mid-American power Ohio University at Kimmel Arena starting at 2 p.m.
Saturday’s game can be heard locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show beginning at 1:30 p.m. The game with the Bobcats can also be seen on the Big South Digital Network for free under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville (6-7) has recovered from injuries and a 1-7 start to move to one game of .500 before entering Big South Conference play. However, the Bulldogs face a strong Ohio University (9-3) that blitzed Big South club Longwood Monday night, 78-43.
The teams have played just once and that came two years ago as part of the ESPNBracketBuster series with the Bobcats downing Asheville, 81-62 in Athens, Ohio. That Ohio team would win the MAC and advance to the “Sweet 16” before falling in overtime to UNC Chapel Hill.
“Ohio University has a very good program and has a strong team once again this year,” commented first-year coach Nick McDevitt. “Next to Kentucky and Duke, this may be the best team we play this season. We’re going to play very well to have a chance at getting a victory against Ohio.”
The Bobcats are led by junior forward Maurice Ndour. He’s averaging 14.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game plus shooting .528 (62-of-118) from the field. Senior guard Nick Kellogg has a 14.0 scoring average and has knocked down 27 treys. He’s shooting .487 (27-of-59) from long distance.
Asheville continues to be led in scoring by freshman guard Andrew Rowsey with a 15.5 average. He also leads the team in three-pointers made (26) and free throw percentage at .800 (32-of-40). Senior forward Jaron Lane has a 12.7 scoring average, while senior center D.J. Cunningham is averaging 11.1 points per game. Cunningham leads the Big South in rebounding (9.5) and blocked shots (36).
The Bulldogs won their fifth in a row on Tuesday by roaring past neighboring NAIA foe Montreat, 80-41. Freshman guards David Robertson and Andrew Rowsey led the Asheville effort with 14 points each. Corey Littlejohn added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Asheville’s defense limited Montreat to just 11 field goals for the game as the visitors shot just .216 (11-of-51) from the field. The Bulldogs had a huge height advantage and outscored the Cavaliers, 40-8 in the paint. Asheville blocked a season-high 13 shots as Cunningham blocked six Montreat field goal attempts.
This is the first time a MAC team has come to Asheville to play since Dec. 29, 2007 when the Bulldogs host Buffalo at Justice Center. The Dogs won a memorable game that day as they rallied past the Bulls 101-90 in overtime as they out-shot UB 49-9 at the free throw line.
Saturday’s game will mark fifth time the Bulldogs have played a MAC opponent as Asheville lost to Akron last season, 82-63 in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Bulldogs are 1-3 against the MAC, going 1-1 vs. Buffalo, 0-1 vs. Ohio and 0-1 vs. Akron.
After Saturday’s game, it’s nothing but Big South Conference games the rest of the regular season. Asheville opens BSC play at Gardner-Webb Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
UNC Asheville is unbeaten this year at home at 4-0 and 30-6 all-time at Kimmel Arena.
The Bulldogs have blocked 33 shots in the last three games.
Asheville’s defense has fueled its winning streak. The Bulldogs have allowed just 55.8 points per game to their opponents during this five-game winning streak. No opponent has shot better than 34 percent from the field during the streak.
Senior forward Jaron Lane looks to become the 29th player in school history to score 1,000 career points here in the next few games. Jaron enters today’s game with 935 career points.
Ohio is the fourth opponent that UNC Asheville has faced at home as a part of the ESPNBracketBuster series and the Bulldogs are still searching for their first win. The Dogs fell to Eastern Kentucky in the 2006-07 season, 73-54 at Justice Center. The last two losses have been just heartbreakers for Asheville. In the 2010-11 season, the Bulldogs lost at Justice Center to Northeastern, 83-82. And last year, Jacksonville State tipped in a missed shot at the buzzer to win, 71-69.
The Bulldogs are 6-1 when they out-rebound their opponents.
Asheville has had two straight games of picking up 11 steals. The Bulldogs had 11 against UNC Wilmington last Saturday and 11 vs. Montreat on Tuesday. The only other time the Dogs have been in double figures in steals was at Duke when Asheville had 10 steals against the Blue Devils.
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figures in 12 of 13 games this season.
The Bulldogs are starting a freshman backcourt in Andrew Roswey and David Robertson. Since the two entered the starting line-up, Asheville is 5-2.