ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men's basketball team complete the regular season Saturday afternoon at home when the Bulldogs host long-time Big South Conference rival Winthrop at Kimmel Arena at 2 p.m. Saturday's game will be televised locally on WMYA-TV (Channel 40) with a pre-game show starting at 1:30 p.m. The game will also be video-streamed by www.uncabulldogs.com.
The Bulldogs have wrapped up the Big South Conference regular-season crown and will be the top seed in next week's tournament that will be held at Kimmel Arena. Asheville (20-9, 15-2) would tie a Big South record for most league wins in a season with a victory over the Eagles. Winthrop (11-18, 8-9 BSC) needs a win to avoid having to play in the first round of the tournament on Monday.
The Bulldogs barely escaped against the Eagles the last time the teams played. Asheville rallied for a 73-68 overtime win over Winthrop on Dec. 31 in Rock Hill. The Eagles led by 14 early in the second half before the Dogs sent the game to overtime and then outscored Winthrop 12-7 to get the win.
"We really struggled against Winthrop the first time we played them and were very fortunate to sneak out of there with a win," commented Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "Winthrop is a good team that's well-coached and could very easily win the tournament next week. They've lost some really close games where they were a play or two away from winning. Our game with them was a perfect example.
"They played great defense, rebound well and have some guys that can score," added Biedenbach. "We need to play much better than we've been playing lately to have a chance at winning on Saturday."
Asheville ended a two-game losing streak on Thursday with a 71-61 victory over Gardner-Webb. Winthrop has not played since last Saturday when the Eagles fell at Appalachian State, 76-64.
Prior to Saturday's game, Asheville will honor its five seniors playing in their final regular-season home game at Kimmel Arena. They are Matt Dickey, J.P Primm, Chris Stephenson, Quinard Jackson and Jeremy Harn. These five have helped guide the Bulldogs to a 70-55 record in their careers, one Big South Conference Tournament championship and one regular-season crown.
"We can't thank these guys enough for what they've meant to UNC Asheville," declared Biedenbach. "This is a special group that will be remembered forever for what they've accomplished and hopefully they'll accomplish a few more things before the season is over."
Andre Jones leads the Winthrop attack with a 16.5 per game scoring average. He's knocked down 48 treys. Reggie Middleton, one of the top defenders in the Big South, is averaging 12.3 points per game.
Matt Dickey tops the Bulldogs with a 17.1 scoring average. The senior guard has scored in double figures in 26 of 29 games this season. J.P. Primm has a 14.9 scoring average and leads the team in assists (105) and steals (43).
UNC Asheville is attempting to sweep Winthrop in the regular-season for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The Eagles were the last Big South team to win at Justice Center last year when Winthrop edged Asheville, 57-53.
Asheville is 11-2 at Kimmel Arena this year
The Bulldogs have been slow out of the gates in the past three games. Asheville has averaged just 22.6 points in the first half of the last three contests.
Asheville is 21-2 against Big South Conference opponents dating back to late last season.
The Bulldogs are have out-rebounded five of their last six opponents and in the one game they didn't, Asheville earned a 32-32 tie against Ohio University last Saturday.
The Bulldogs have allowed teams to shoot very well from long distance the last three games. Asheville's last three opponents have gone 25-of-52 (.481) from beyond the arc.
Asheville has 23 steals in the last two games.
Jaron Lane enjoyed the first double-double of his career vs. Gardner-Webb on Thursday with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Matt Dickey and Quinard Jackson are the only two Bulldogs to start in all 29 games for Asheville this season.