ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team goes back on the road Saturday afternoon when the Bulldogs travel to preseason favorite Charleston Southern for a Big South Conference battle with the Buccaneers at the CSU Fieldhouse starting at 5:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast by WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 5 p.m. Fans can also watch the game on the Big South Digital Network for free under the multimedia tag at uncabulldogs.com.
Asheville (8-9, 2-1 BSC) is coming off its first league loss of the season on Wednesday when the Bulldogs fell at Coastal Carolina, 81-78. The Dogs trailed by 12 with three minutes left before making a dramatic comeback that fell just short.
“We led by four (40-36) at halftime and then Coastal Carolina took it to us in the first five minutes of the second half to build a working margin,” stated first-year coach Nick McDevitt. “Our guys did a great job battling back, but we missed some easy shots that we should have made a couple of free throws and missed some defensive assignments. It was just enough to get us beat.”
Things only get tougher on Saturday at Charleston Southern (8-8, 2-1 BSC). The Buccaneers are coming off a 95-58 destruction of Presbyterian College Wednesday night. They opened league play with a 70-58 victory over Coastal Carolina last Wednesday that saw CSU lead by as much as 20 points in the game.
CSU won the Big South Conference regular-season title last year and went to the league championship game. They swept the season series from the Bulldogs last year and have won the last three meetings at the CSU Fieldhouse. Asheville has not won at the Buc Dome since the 2008-09 season.
“Charleston Southern has had our number for awhile, especially on the road,” explained McDevitt. “They’re a very good team that shoots the three as well as anyone in the country. We can’t let them get into a groove like Coastal Carolina did the other night. They are very, very explosive. We’re going to have to be focused and be ready to play for 40 minutes on Saturday to have any shot of winning.”
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey continues to lead Asheville in scoring with a 16.2 average. His scoring mark is ninth best for freshman in the country this year. Jaron Lane is averaging 13.2 points per game and needs just five points to reach 1,000 career points. Senior center D.J. Cunningham has had two consecutive double-doubles and is averaging 10.6 points. He leads the Big South in both rebounding (9.7) and blocked shots (48). His 3.4 per game block average is 12th nationally.
Saah Nimley leads a talented CSU backcourt with a 13.8 average. He’s joined by Arlon Harper with a 12.1 mark. The Bucs lead the nation in three-pointers made with an 11.7 per game average.
“We’re going to have to guard the three very closely, but they can hurt you a lot of different ways,” added McDevitt.
Charleston Southern has won the last four regular-season games between the teams and four of the last five games. Asheville’s last two wins have come in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big South Tournament (72-63) and in the 2012 semifinals (91-64).
The Bulldogs are 21-9 in road games against Big South Conference teams over the last three years but that success does not include Charleston Southern. Asheville has lost its last three meetings here and had blown second-half leads in all three contests. In 2010, the Bulldogs led by five in the second half before falling 62-54. In 2011, Asheville led by 11 in the second half before losing 79-70. And last year, the Bulldogs led by 12 early in the second half before the Bucs rallied for a 74-68 win.
Freshman guard Andrew Rowsey has scored in double figure in 16 of Asheville’s 17 games this year. He has knocked down a three-pointer in 16 of 17 games.
The Bulldogs have won seven of their last nine games.
Asheville is 70-35 (.667) over the last six seasons in Big South Conference regular-season play.
D.J. Cunningham moved into sixth place on Asheville’s career rebounding list with 10 rebounds on Wednesday and now has 689 rebounds. He needs 11 to become just the sixth player in school history to reach 700 rebounds. D.J needs 15 rebounds to become the school’s Division I leader and move past Brent Keck (703) into fourth place on the career list.
D.J. Cunningham has six double-doubles on the season. He has gotten them in three two-game bunches. Cunningham recorded double-doubles against WCU (11-11) and College of Charleston (11-5) vs. Virginia Intermont (12-12) and UNC Wilmington (12-28) and the last two games vs. Presbyterian College and Coastal Carolina.
The Bulldogs lead the Big South in free throw percentage (.735), are second in blocked shots (5.82) and third in rebounding margin (3.9).