Western Carolina (1-3) vs. Austin Peay (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 1:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moon Palace Resort (990) -- Cancun, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: WCU 1-0, APSU 1-0. Away Record: WCU 0-3, APSU 0-2. Neutral Record: WCU 0-0, APSU 0-0. Conference Record: WCU 0-0, APSU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: The Western Carolina Catamounts and Austin Peay Governors will open up the offshore portion of the competition when they square off at Moon Palace Resort in the opening round of the Cancun Classic.
The Catamounts have lost three of their first four games to begin the 2012-2013 campaign. Western Carolina opened its season up with a 10-point loss at UNC Asheville before returning home to defeat Division II Mars Hill, 95-68, in its season opener. The team went on the road to fall in back-to-back games at Wichita State (79-63) and Western Kentucky (92-81). Despite its unattractive record, coach Larry Hunter's squad is decent on the offensive end with an average of 75 ppg on 44.9 percent shooting from the floor. Its opposition has managed to attempt 44 more free throws in just four games.
The Governors are hoping to climb back towards the top of the steadily improving Ohio Valley Conference after their disappointing 12-20 finish to last season. The team managed to get off to the right start with a 75-64 triumph over Samford, but it lost a pair of road games at Western Kentucky (74-57) and DePaul (98-67) in the mainland portion of the tourney. Coach Dave Loos is one of the longest tenured coaches in the NCAA as he is currently in his 21st year at the school. Loos will have to get his squad back on track after it committed 27 turnovers its last time out.
This will be the seventh between these schools in history. The series is tied, 3-3. Both we replaced in the Mayan Division along with Gardner-Webb and Howard, who will square off later in the day on Tuesday. The winners will advance to play in the championship round on Wednesday.
Its last time out, WCU converted on only 5-of-21 attempts from beyond the arc while allowing the Hilltoppers to drain 50.9 percent of their field goal attempts. Poor rebounding is playing a part in the Catamounts' early season troubles as well. Over the past two games, WCU has been beat in the rebounding battle by 22 boards. The Catamounts can not be completely counted out with Trey Sumler in the lineup. The junior guard is pacing the team with 18.8 points and 4.8 assists per contest. Junior forward Tawaski King is the best frontcourt player for WCU with 13.3 points and 5.8 boards per game. Brandon Boggs is also carrying a double-digit scoring average into the Cancun Challenge, but he is hitting just 34.8 percent of his field goal tries. Look for junior forward Preston Ross to be on the floor much more than usual after he exploded for 19 points on Saturday.
The Governors had no answer for DePaul's one-two punch of Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young on Saturday in their loss to the Blue Demons as they combined for 43 points on 18-of-29 shooting from the floor. The poor defense in the backcourt by APSU is going to need to improve drastically with Sumler on the opposing bench. Senior forward Anthony Campbell will need to continue to produce on the offensive end against the weak WCU defense. Campbell is leading the team with 11 ppg after generating 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting at DePaul. Will Triggs and Travis Betran are both capable scorers with averages in double figures as well. Freshman center Chris Horton showed a flash of potential in his second collegiate game with 12 points and 10 boards at WKU, but he was held to just two points and turned it over four times against the Blue Demons. Horton may need time to develop before he can dominate against schools from the major conferences, but he will be a double-double threat every time he takes the floor against weak mid-major programs.
This should be a close battle between a pair of teams still trying to figure things out in the early going. Both have been turnover prone so far, but Western Carolina's inefficient rebounding gives APSU a slight edge. Sumler may be able to guide his team to a win if the Governors allow him to get into a rhythm.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 73, Austin Peay 69
11/20 10:34:48 ET