ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men's basketball team will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Jacksonville State in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series that pits teams from mid-major conferences squaring off throughout the country. Tip-off for Saturday's game at Kimmel Arena is 4:30 p.m.
Saturday's game will be video-streamed and can be seen under the multimedia tag at www.uncabulldogs.com.
The Bulldogs (15-12, 9-5 BSC) hope to break a three-game losing streak on Saturday but it won't be easy against a talented Gamecock (16-10, 8-7 OVC) team from the Ohio Valley Conference.
"Jacksonville State is a good team. They're very athletic and well-coached," admitted Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. "They've posted some impressive wins throughout the year, and any team that has a winning record in the Ohio Valley Conference is a good ballclub."
Asheville is coming off a tough 65-64 loss at Coastal Carolina Tuesday night. The Bulldogs rallied and led late but the Chanticleers hit a shot with 5.9 seconds left to get the win. Asheville played the game without second leading scorer Keith Hornsby. The sophomore guard injured his shoulder in practice on Monday and is doubtful for the game against the Gamecocks.
"Injuries are part of the game," declared Biedenbach. "I thought our guys did a nice job stepping up for Keith on Tuesday.
"We did a lot of good things at Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night, but we turned the ball over 22 times," said Biedenbach. "A lot of those turnovers were unforced. We also let them get some second shots in the second half and didn't guard them as well as we could have a few times."
Jeremy Atkinson led Asheville with 18 points at Coastal Carolina. Corey Littlejohn, making his first career start, added a season-high 12 points. Freshman forward Sam Hughes pumped in 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
Jacksonville State ended a three-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 67-65 win over league foe Southeast Missouri. JSU trailed by nine with 13 minutes before storming back to get the victory. Brian Williams gave the Gamecocks the lead with nine seconds left when his jumper in the lane was called for goaltending. Senior forward Tarvin Gaines is JSU's leading scorer with a 16.2 average. Sophomore guard Darion Rackley has a 13.8 average, followed by Williams with a 13.0 mark. Williams runs the offense and has a team-high 113 assists. The teams have one common opponent and that's Presbyterian College. JSU edged the Blue Hose in Clinton back in December, 66-59 in overtime.
Prior to Saturday's game, UNC Asheville will honor its three seniors playing in their final home contest. The three are Jeremy Atkinson, Jon Nwannunu and Josh Seligson. Seligson is a red-shirt junior but will graduate in May.
"We appreciate what these three have brought to our program," commented Biedenbach. "We've won two championships with these guys, and we're going to compete for another one this year."
UNC Asheville is 9-3 at home this year and 23-5 all-time at Kimmel Arena. However, the Bulldogs have dropped two straight at home for the first time in three seasons.
Senior forward Jeremy Atkinson has scored in double figures 35 of the last 36 games.
The Bulldogs could be without second leading scorer Keith Hornsby this afternoon. The sophomore guard injured his shoulder in practice Monday at Coastal Carolina and missed the game against the Chanticleers and is doubtful for today's contest. He is Asheville's second leading scorer with a 15.2 average. Hornsby is one of the best free throws shooters in the nation. Keith is second nationally in free throw percentage at .938 (91-of-97). He has scored in double figures in 18 of the last 19 games he's played.
This is the first time that UNC Asheville and Jacksonville State have ever played on the hardwood. The Bulldog program is 4-7 vs. Ohio Valley Conference teams. Asheville is 3-3 vs. Eastern Kentucky, 1-2 vs. Tennessee Tech and 0-1 vs. Austin Peay and 0-1 vs. Morehead State. This is the first time an OVC team has played at Kimmel Arena.
Asheville is 13-1 when it out-rebounds its opponents but 2-12 when it doesn't. The Bulldogs have been out-rebounded in four straight games and are 1-3 in those contests.