ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men's basketball team opens play in the Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Tournament Tuesday when the third-seeded Bulldogs host the sixth-seeded Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Justice Center starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday's game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio (1310-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. The game will also be video-streamed and can be seen for a small fee at www.uncabulldogs.com.
Both teams enter tonight's game playing some good basketball. Asheville (16-13) has a three-game winning streak, while CSU (16-15) has won three of its last four games. The Bulldogs had a week to remember last week as they won three conference games in a span of five days, including an 81-58 victory over Radford Saturday afternoon at Justice Center. The three victories propelled Asheville to the third seed in this week's championship. Charleston Southern had won three straight until falling at home to regular-season champion Coastal Carolina Saturday afternoon at home, 81-77. The Buccaneers were the lone BSC team to win a Sears BracketBusters game when CSU won at UNC Wilmington, 63-58 on Feb. 19. Asheville and Charleston Southern split home victories this year. The Bulldogs held off the Bucs, 77-69 at Justice Center back on Jan. 22. On Feb. 15, CSU rallied for a 79-70 victory over Asheville. The Bulldogs led 39-29 at halftime but the Bucs rallied to out-score Asheville, 50-31 in the second half to win the game.
The winner of Tuesday's game advances to the semifinals of the Big South Conference Championship Thursday night at Kimbel Arena on the campus of top-seeded Coastal Carolina. The Asheville-CSU winner plays the winner of this evening's Liberty-High Point game being played in Lynchburg on Thursday at 6 p.m. Asheville could still have one more home game and that would be Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Big South Conference championship game. For the Bulldogs to be at home on Saturday, they have to win tonight and Thursday, coupled with a loss by top-seeded Coastal Carolina tonight or on Thursday.
"We had two close games with Charleston Southern this year, and I expect Tuesday night's game to be just as close, stated Bulldog coach Eddie Biedenbach. "Charleston Southern is a very good team. They're well-coached and have a good backcourt and a nice inside game. We played well last week and that's going to have to continue against Charleston Southern for us to have any chance of winning and advancing in the tournament."
Asheville's third place finish this season means the Bulldogs finished in the upper division of the Big South Conference standings for the fourth straight year. Nobody else in the Big South can make the same claim during that time. Asheville is trying to advance to the semifinals of the tournament for the fifth straight season.
The Bulldogs are being led by their junior guards. Matt Dickey earned first team all-conference honors on Monday as he led Asheville in scoring with a 14.9 average. Second team selection J.P. Primm is right behind him with a 14.8 average.
CSU is led by senior guard Jamarco Warren with a 17.5 scoring average. He scorched the Bulldogs for 31 points in Charleston on Feb. 15. Junior forward Kelvin Martin was named Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. Martin averaged 12.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Bulldogs vs. Bucs in Big South Tournament Play: This is just the fourth time that UNC Asheville and Charleston Southern have squared off in the Big South Tournament. The Buccaneers hold a 2-1 advantage in the series with Asheville winning the last time the teams met. CSU won a semifinal battle in 1986 in Savannah, Ga., 65-64 in overtime. In 1997, the Bucs upset the top-seeded Bulldogs in Lynchburg, Va., 67-57 in another semifinal contest. The teams met in 2008 here at Justice Center with Asheville winning a quarterfinal match-up, 87-63.
Dickey & Primm Honored: Junior guard Matt Dickey was named as a first team Big South All-Conference selection on Monday as the league announced its award winners for the 2010-11 season. In addition, he was named to the Big South All-Academic team for his work in the classroom. Junior guard J.P. Primm was named as a second team All-Conference selection. The All-Conference selections are the first for Dickey and Primm. Dickey is Asheville's leadings scorer this season with a 14.9 average. He is sixth in the league in scoring. Dickey is third in the league in steals (1.79), fourth in free throw percentage (83.6%), ninth in assists (3.31) and ninth in three-pointers made (1.86). He made the play of the year for the Bulldogs last week at Coastal Carolina when he stole an inbounds pass and hit a last-second three-pointer to give Asheville a 61-58 victory. The play was ESPN's Play of the Day and was featured throughout the country last week. Primm is Asheville's second leading scorer with a 14.8 average and that's seventh best in the conference. He is second in the conference in assists (4.62) and steals (2.07). Primm is fifth in the BSC in free throw percentage (81.5%) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52). The Dickson, Tenn. native has led Asheville in scoring 18 different times this year.
Good Defense Last Week: One of the big keys for UNC Asheville three wins last week was its defense. The Bulldogs limited their three opponents to 59.3 points per game. In Saturday's win over Radford, Asheville allowed the Highlanders to shoot 29 percent (19-of-64) from the field. How improved is this defense. In the Bulldogs loss to Northeastern on Feb. 19 at home, Asheville allowed the Huskies to score 56 points in the second half as they rallied from 17 points down to win.
Bulldogs as #3 Seed: This will mark the sixth time that UNC Asheville has been the #3 seed in the Big South Tournament. The Bulldogs have a 4-5 record as the #3 seed and have lost their last two quarterfinal games, including a memorable 98-93 overtime decision to High Point at Justice Center six years to the day (March 1, 2005). Asheville trailed by 18 points with 10 minutes left and made a remarkable comeback to lead by three late in regulation only to see the Panthers tie the game late and win in overtime.