MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team opens play in the Big South Conference Tournament Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals against Radford at 2 p.m. at the HTC Center on the campus of Coastal Carolina.
Friday’s game will be broadcast locally on WWNC Radio (570-AM) with the pre-game show starting at 1:30 p.m. Fans can also watch the game on ESPN3.
The Bulldogs (16-14) face a strong Highlander (21-11) team on Friday. Radford advanced to the quarterfinals with a 78-73 triumph over Presbyterian College Wednesday afternoon in the first round.
Asheville and Radford met on Feb. 13 at the Dedmon Center with the Highlanders talking a wild 102-92 decision despite 41 points from freshman guard Andrew Rowsey.
“We’ll need to play very well to have a chance at advancing,” commented Bulldog coach Nick McDevitt. “Radford won 21 games this year and beat a lot of good teams throughout the season. They’re very athletic and can come at you in a lot of different ways. Radford can score quickly as we found out last month.
“We’re going to have to handle the ball well,” added McDevitt. “You make a turnover against Radford and they’re scoring at the other end. We’ll need to be at our absolute best to win on Friday.
“I thought our guys played really well against Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon,” McDevitt also said. “We played some good defense and rebounded quite well. We’ll need the same kind of effort Friday.”
This will be the 10th meeting between the Bulldogs and Highlanders in Big South Tournament action. Asheville holds a 5-4 advantage and has gone 2-1 vs. RU in quarterfinal meetings.
The Bulldogs are being led in scoring by Big South Freshman of the Year Andrew Rowsey. He’s second in the league in scoring with a 19.9 average and has scored in double figures in a Big South-leading 26 straight games.
Asheville has also enjoyed great years from seniors’ D.J. Cunningham and Jaron Lane. Cunningham has an 11.0 scoring average and leads the Big South in rebounding (9.4) and blocked shots (3.6). Lane is the Dogs second leading scorer (15.9) and rebounder (5.5). He has scored 20 points or more in four straight games and in eight of the last 12 contests.
Asheville is looking for its first win in the HTC Center. The Bulldogs are 0-3 here with two losses to Coastal Carolina by just four points and an upset loss to Longwood in last year’s Big South Tournament.
Asheville has gone 15-7 since starting the season 1-7.
Senior center D.J. Cunningham needs two blocked shots on Friday to set the single-season record for blocks. He has 92 with the record being 93 held by Kenny George (2007-08) and Cunningham (2012-13).
The Bulldogs have won two of the last three Big South Conference championships. Asheville is 25-23 all-time in Big South Tournament action and has posted a 17-9 record in quarterfinal action. The Bulldogs have won six straight quarterfinal games. Last year’s loss occurred in the first round.
Asheville has won at least 15 games for seven straight years and 10 league games in the last seven seasons.
The Bulldogs have shot at least 50 percent from the three-point line in the last two games.
Asheville has out-rebounded four of its last five opponents.
The Bulldogs have blocked 10 shots in seven different games this season.