ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville Bulldogs open play in the 2012 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Tournament on Wednesday night when they host the eighth-seeded High Point Panthers at Kimmel Arena starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday's game will be broadcast locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM) starting with the pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. A video-stream of the game can be seen at www.uncabulldogs.com.
For the third straight year, Asheville (21-9) takes on High Point in the tournament. It is the sixth meeting between the teams in the tournament in the last 11 years. The Bulldogs have won the last two years with the Panthers winning the previous three meetings.
Asheville is looking to advance to the semifinals of the league tournament for the sixth straight year. High Point (13-17) pened play in the tournament on Monday with a 68-58 first-round win over Gardner-Webb Monday night at home.
The Bulldogs are the top seed for the first time since the 2008 season. Asheville won its final two games of the season last week at Kimmel Arena with a71-61 victory over Gardner-Webb last Thursday and then a 67-55 triumph vs. Winthrop Saturday afternoon. The winner of tonight's game advances to Thursday's semifinals at 8 p.m. as they'll face the winner of the Liberty/Charleston Southern game that will be played after this game. The Bulldogs swept the regular-season series from the Panthers for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Asheville won at High Point, 86-79 on Jan. 14 before downing the Panthers 90-70 at Kimmel Arena on Jan. 26.
Bulldog head coach Eddie Biedenbach is very concerned about facing High Point again.
"High Point is really playing well right now and this is going to be a very tough game for us Wednesday night," stated Biedenbach. "We know how well they can score and they're also very athletic. Both of our games this year were tough games that we were able to come out on top but it's going to take 40 minutes of great play by our guys on Wednesday to do it again."
Barbour leads High Point in scoring with a 20.9 average. He was a first team All-Conference selection and scored 33 points against the Bulldogs on Jan. 14. Shay Shine averages 15.4 points per game.
The Bulldogs are led by Big South Player of the Year Matt Dickey with a 16.9 scoring average. He's scored in double figures in 27 of 30 games this season. Senior guard J.P. Primm is averaging 14.9 points per game.
Bulldog Big South Tournament Notes
Bulldogs Enter BSC Tourney as #1 Seed: The UNC Asheville Bulldogs enter the Big South Tournament as the #1 seed for the fourth time, all under head coach Eddie Biedenbach. Asheville has won or shared five Big Conference regular-season titles (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2012). The Bulldogs were the top seed in 1997, 1998, 2008 and now 2012. Asheville has won three Big South Conference championships (1989, 2003, 2011) but never as the number one seed. The Bulldog have advanced to the championship game as the #1 seed in 1998 and 2008 but fell both times. Asheville's all-time record as the #1 seed is 4-3.
A Great Season: UNC Asheville has enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history this year. The Bulldogs have tied a regular-season record for most wins with 21. This has also been none in 1982-83 and 2007-08. Asheville went 20-14 last year and with 21 wins this season, the Bulldog program has had back-to-back 20-wins season for just the second in school history (1983 & 1984).
Bulldogs in Big South Tournaments: The Bulldogs have compiled a 25-22 record in 26 Big South Tournaments. Asheville has won three tournament titles (1989, 2003, 2011) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 and 2011. The Bulldogs have advanced to the semifinals for five consecutive years, a claim no other BSC school can make. Asheville has an all-time record of 14-8 in quarterfinal games, 7-9 in semifinals contests and 3-4 in league title games. The Bulldogs have gone to the BSC championship game in back-to-back years just once and that was in 1989 and 1990.
Bulldogs All-Time in Asheville in Big South Conference Tournament Play: Kimmel Arena will be third venue that UNC Asheville has played in Big South Conference Tournament history. The Bulldogs have played the league tourney at the Asheville Civic Center (1999, 2000) and at Justice Center (2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011). Asheville's all-time record in Big South Conference tournament play is 8-4. The Bulldogs reached the league title game in 2000 at the Asheville Civic Center but fell to second-seeded Winthrop, 75-62. In 2008, the top-seeded Bulldogs lost to second-seeded Winthrop at Justice Center, 66-48 in one of the most disappointing losses in school history.
Winning Ways: UNC Asheville won last year's Big South Tournament with a late-season surge that saw them win the final six games it played against league opponents. Counting this season and going back to last year, the Bulldogs have won 22 of their last 24 games against league opponents.
Winning Ways in Big South Play: The Bulldogs have been the winningest team program in Big South Conference regular-season play over the past five years. Asheville is 58-28 in league games during that period, winning regular-season titles in 2008 and 2012, finishing fourth in 2009, 2010 and third in 2011.
What a Year on Offense: UNC Asheville has enjoyed an outstanding year on offense in 2011-12. The Bulldogs are averaging 80.8 points per game, the second highest scoring total in school history and highest in the Division I era. The 80.8 scoring average leads the Big South and is fifth nationally in scoring. In addition, the Bulldogs are eighth nationally in assists per game with a 16.5 per game average. Asheville is 13th in free throw percentage (.760) and 18th in field goal percentage (.482). The Bulldogs scored 126 points against Mars Hill on Nov. 16, the second highest total in school history and second highest point total of the year in college basketball. Asheville set a school record in that game for assists with 38.
Some Incredible Free Throw Shooting: As mentioned above, Asheville has done a great job shooting free throws this year. The Bulldogs lead the Big South at .760 and are shooting .798 in league games. Asheville has been above 90 percent in three different games. The Bulldogs were 31-of-33 (.939) vs. Coastal Carolina (1-17), 33-of-36 (.917) vs. Campbell (1-28) and 38-of-42 vs. Radford (.905) (2-11). Asheville has three players well above 80 percent from the line in Matt Dickey (.862), J.P. Primm (.835) and Jaron Lane (.807).
Did You Know? UNC Asheville is the all-time leader in NCAA Tournament wins in Big South history for men's basketball. The Bulldogs have been to the tourney twice and are 2-2. Both wins came in Dayton in the Opening Round portion of the tournament and both were overtime victories. Asheville defeated Texas Southern, 92-84 in 2003 and Arkansas-Little Rock last season, 81-77.
J.P. Stands Alone: Senior guard J.P. Primm has put together an incredible career at UNC Asheville. And that career is even more amazing when you find out he is the only active player in Division I who has scored more than 1,600 points (1,613) more than 500 assists (588) and more than 200 steals (240).
Kimmel Magic: UNC Asheville has enjoyed its new Kimmel Arena a great deal this season. The Bulldogs are 12-2 at Kimmel with the only losses coming to top-ranked UNC Chapel Hill (91-75) and a close 91-86 loss to Charleston Southern. Until last week's games against Gardner-Webb and Winthrop, the Bulldogs had scored at least 75 points in every game. Asheville is averaging 90.4 points per game at Kimmel and shooting .531 (424-of-799) from the field in14 home games.