Western Carolina (10-15) at College of Charleston (14-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 9th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: TD Arena (5,100) -- Charleston, South Carolina. Television: Local/ESPN3. Home Record: WCU 6-4, CofC 7-4. Away Record: WCU 3-10, CofC 5-5. Neutral Record: WCU 1-1, CofC 2-1. Conference Record: WCU 4-8, CofC 6-7. Series Record: CofC leads, 16-7.
GAME NOTES: Southern Conference foes collide on the hardwood in Charleston tonight, when the Cougars host the Catamounts of Western Carolina at TD Arena.
Western Carolina has struggled lately, dropping decisions in five of its last six outings. Four of those contests have been decided by eight points or less, including a hard-fought 68-65 final against Georgia Southern last Saturday. The Catamounts fell to 10-15 overall with the loss, and 4-8 in conference tests.
As for the College of Charleston, the Cougars are back within their own friendly confines after a three-game road stretch during which Charleston came away with a 2-1 mark. Still, the Cougars have dropped verdicts in five out of their last eight contests, but a 74-62 win at Appalachian State on Saturday afternoon improved the squad to 14-10 overall and 6-7 in SoCon action.
The Cougars lead, 16-7, in terms of the all-time series between the two programs.
WCU had three chances at a go-ahead basket within the final 75 seconds down just one point against Georgia Southern, but the Catamounts couldn't find the bottom of the basket and the Eagles held on for an eventual three-point victory. The Catamounts shot at an above-average 46.3 percent clip that included a 9-of-17 effort from long range, but the squad got to the charity stripe just eight times during the meeting, making good on six of those opportunities. Keaton Cole scored 17 points to pace WCU, while Harouna Mutombo and Trey Sumler tallied 16 and 12 points, respectively, in a losing effort. The Catamounts do bring a well-balanced scoring attack from a seasonal standpoint, as the club averages 69.8 points per game and boasts four players with a double-digit scoring average. The squad has connected on an underwhelming 41.9 percent of their attempts from the field, however, but has found success from beyond the arc, particularly via Cole -- whose 40.3 percent conversion rate from downtown ranks 36th in the country. Mutombo leads the way for WCU up to this point, as his 12.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg pace the club. Sumler follows in the scoring department (12.8 ppg), and leads the team in assists (96), while Cole has been responsible for 11.8 ppg. Brandon Boggs rounds out the quad, with a respectable 10.5 ppg contribution.
The Cougars went into the break ahead just 35-32 against Appalachian State, but outscored the Mountaineers by a 39-30 margin over the final 20 minutes thanks in large part to a 13-of-16 effort at the foul line. Charleston shot just 43.3 percent from the field during the meeting, but the Cougars also held ASU to a 37.1 percent clip that included a miserable 3-of-19 from three-point range. The Cougars also forced a game-high 13 turnovers, and won the battle of the boards by a 46-32 margin. Andrew Lawrence posted a game-high 24 points and passed out seven assists to lead the way for Charleston, while Trent Wiedeman netted 14 points to go with five boards. Nori Johnson got into the mix as well, finishing with 11 points for the Cougars. The performance was a bit of an anomaly for a club that currently ranks 30th in the nation in three-point field goals (8.2 per contest). The Cougars have yielded 68.2 ppg to the opposition this season, while netting 71.1 ppg themselves, a mark that exists in spite of a lackluster 43.0 team shooting percentage. Still, the Cougars boast three starters with a double figure scoring average, beginning with Wiggins and his 16.2 ppg. Wiggins is second on the team on the boards as well (6.5 rpg), while Lawrence checks in with a 13.7 ppg average to go with a team- best 133 assists. Weideman rounds out the trio (11.1 ppg), and leads the way on the glass with an 8.5 rpg tally.
The Cougars get the nod here, especially at home. This figures to be the type of affair in which the more offensively adept squad will prevail. That would be Charleston, although WCU can make things close if they get hot from outside the perimeter.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Coll of Charleston 74, Western Carolina 69
02/09 10:41:48 ET