DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 23rd, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ramsey Center (7,826) -- Cullowhee, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: Samford 7-8, WCU 7-4. Away Record: Samford 4-8, WCU 4-12. Neutral Record: Samford 0-0, WCU 1-1. Conference Record: Samford 8-8, WCU 6-10. Series Record: Western Carolina leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: Southern Conference foes collide on the hardwood tonight in North Carolina, when the Samford Bulldogs visit the Catamounts at the Ramsey Center.
The Bulldogs earned a hard-fought 55-49 verdict over Furman this past weekend, a victory that evened their SoCon slate at 8-8. Still, Samford has only 11 wins to show for its 2011-12 campaign, and the club has suffered setbacks in two of its last three outings.
As for Western Carolina, the Catamounts snapped a three-game skid with wins over The Citadel (70-53), and most recently, Elon (78-76 in overtime). The victory over the Phoenix snapped an eight-game road losing streak for WCU, and improved the squad to 6-10 in league play. Still, the Catamounts have struggled overall in recent weeks, compiling a meager 3-7 record since a historical 141-39 triumph against Toccoa Falls back on January 17th.
WCU holds a 6-2 edge over Samford in the brief all-time history between the two programs.
The Bulldogs got a game-high 18 points from Drew Windler and used a late three-pointer by Jeffrey Merritt to clinch a six-point final against the Paladins. Raijon Kelly netted 11 points in the win for Samford, while Merritt tallied just seven points but pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs shot 46.8 percent from the field during the contest, despite lackluster efforts at both the charity stripe (7-of-17) and from long range (4-of-13). Samford is tallying just 65.3 points per game this season, while allowing its opponents to net 68.6 ppg at the other end of the court. The Bulldogs own just two players with a double-digit scoring average despite a respectable 44.1 team-shooting percentage, beginning with Windler and his 13.7 ppg. Tyler Hood follows (10.8 ppg), while Merritt has been responsible for a solid 8.6 points to go with a team-leading 6.7 rebounds per contest.
The Catamounts used an 11-of-15 effort at the foul line during the extra session to outlast Elon, and went 19-for-28 at the stripe overall during the meeting. WCU shot just 43.9 percent from the floor in the win, but did manage a solid 9-of-21 effort from beyond the arc. The Catamounts were beaten to the boards by a 41-27 mark, but the squad countered by forcing the Phoenix into a game-high 24 miscues. Trey Sumler scored 22 points and passed out seven assists to lead the way for WCU, while Keaton Cole added 19 points. Tawaski King finished with 13 points and nine rebounds as well for the Catamounts, while Harouna Mutombo tallied 10 points and collected eight boards. WCU has had some uneven play at each end of the court this season, allowing the opposition to net 69.7 ppg while tallying 69.6 ppg themselves. The Catamounts are shooting at an underwhelming 41.5 percent clip as a team, with struggles from both beyond the arc (32.7 percent) as well as at the foul line (69.2 percent). Mutombo, with 13.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per contest, leads the way for the Catamounts on the season, with Sumler following with his 12.7 ppg contribution. Cole follows (11.9 ppg), while Brandon Boggs has chipped in a solid 10.4 ppg.
Give WCU the nod in this one, although Samford should keep things tight.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 69, Samford 65
02/23 10:38:31 ET
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