GAME NOTES: The Appalachian State Mountaineers visit the Ramsey Center this afternoon to close out their schedule against Southern Conference foe Western Carolina.
Appalachian State claimed an 84-72 victory when these teams met up in Boone, North Carolina on Jan. 21. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series, 111-65.
ASU enters today's rematch looking to rebound from Wednesday's 62-51 setback at The Citadel, becoming only the sixth team this year to fall victim to the last-place Bulldogs. Prior to that, the Mountaineers had won three of their previous four outings. They have not fared so well on the road, dropping 11 of their 14 games outside of Boone this season.
Meanwhile, Western Carolina has picked up a head of steam with three straight wins. Prior to that, the Catamounts had lost three straight and seven of their previous eight contests. Now, they are looking to make it four in a row following Thursday's 79-77 victory over Samford.
The Mountaineers were not able to overcome a sluggish start on Wednesday night, as they made only 8-of-25 first-half field goals and were held to 19 points at intermission. They tried to mount a comeback using the three-ball in the second half but would finish the game a mere 3-of-22 from the perimeter (.136). In addition, ASU was out-rebounded 36-26, attempted only 11 free throws compared to 28 for Citadel, and allowed the Bulldogs to shoot a healthy 50 percent from the floor. Nathan Healy scored a career-high 19 points in the setback, while Andre Williamson came off the bench for the first time this season and piled up 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting along with a game-high 14 rebounds. However, no other Mountaineer scored more than six points in the game. Leading scorer Omar Carter (11.8 ppg) has seen his numbers fade greatly since being relegated to a bench role last month. He scored just six points on 2-of-8 shooting Wednesday night. Carter was given a starting assignment a few days earlier against Winthrop in what was his last home game at ASU, notching 15 points and six rebounds. But that was also his only double-digit performance, and his only start, in the month of February. Despite Carter being the only player on the team averaging double figures, head coach Jason Capel does not appear motivated to move his top scorer back into the starting lineup on a permanent basis any time soon.
Four players are averaging double figures for Western Carolina, led by Harouna Mutombo with 13.2 ppg to go along with 5.9 rpg. Also averaging double figures are Trey Sumler (12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Keaton Cole (12.4 ppg) and Brandon Boggs (10.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg). Cole is among the nation's top sharpshooters, having knocked down 100 three-pointers on the year (3.3 per game) at a 42-percent clip. He has accounted for nearly half of the team's three-pointers this season. Cole is far and away the most efficient shooter on a squad that shoots just 41.5 percent from the floor as a team, and 40.1 percent in conference play. Of course, the offense has picked up lately with three consecutive games scoring 70 or more points. On Thursday night, the Catamounts matched a school- record with 17 three-pointers (.515) to fend off Samford. Cole buried nine of those threes in 12 attempts, finishing with a career-high 28 points. With that effort, Cole surpassed Anquell McCollum (1995-96) to take over the school's single-season record for three-pointers. Still, after leading by as many as 14 in the second half, Samford battled back and eventually tied the game at 73-73 with 1:27 to play. However, Sumler (12 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds) and Mutombo (19 pts, 7 rebs) then combined for six free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the win for WCU.
Despite both teams entering the weekend at 7-10 in league play, the winner here has a chance at a second-place finish in the North Division and a first- round tournament bye if Elon and Samford both fall. With those stakes still in play, look for a hard-fought game between these evenly-matched teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 76, Appalachian State 72
02/25 10:39:46 ET
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