Western Carolina (7-10) at Samford (5-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 17, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pete Hanna Center (5,000) -- Birmingham, Alabama. Television: None. Home Record: WCU 4-2, Samford 2-4. Away Record: WCU 2-7, Samford 3-6. Neutral Record: WCU 1-1, Samford 0-2. Conference Record: WCU 4-1, Samford 3-1. Series Record: Western Carolina leads, 7-2.
GAME NOTES: First place in the Southern Conference North Division is on the line when the Samford Bulldogs host the Western Carolina Catamounts at the Hanna Center.
Western Carolina is looking to rebound from an 80-67 home loss to Elon on Monday. That setback snapped the team's three-game winning streak. The Catamounts have not fared so well in true road games, posting only two victories in nine tries this season.
Samford responded from a recent two-game slide by sweeping a pair of games in Charleston last week. The Bulldogs notched a 62-57 win over College of Charleston last Thursday and then followed that up with a 69-65 triumph over The Citadel on Saturday. The Bulldogs are just 2-4 at home this season.
WCU has won the last three meetings with Samford to take a 7-2 series lead.
Trey Sumler knocked down 5-of-7 3-pointers en route to a career-high 32 points for the Catamounts on Monday night. However, he was joined in double figures by only Mike Brown, as WCU was unable to overcome a lackluster 39-percent shooting effort as a team. The Catamounts led by as many as six early in the second half, but Elon steadily gained control before pulling away late. Sumler has carried the offense, averaging 17.8 points on the season and 20.6 points in conference play. A 41-percent shooter from beyond the arc, Sumler is also averaging 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. King (10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Tom Tankelewicz (10.0 ppg) are also averaging double figures, although the majority of the team's offensive looks filter through Sumler.
Samford's Raijon Kelly is the reigning SoCon Player of the Week after scoring 15 points in a win at Charleston last Thursday and then following that up with a 15-point, seven-assist effort in Saturday's win at Citadel. Kelly has knocked down 17 of his last 28 3-point attempts (.607) since Dec. 15 and is a conference-best 46.4 percent from beyond the arc on the season. Tim Williams (14.3 ppg) joined Kelly (14.9 ppg) with 15 points against Citadel while true freshman Clide Geffrard, Jr. tallied a game-high 22 points, which was just two points short of matching his career-best. Samford led by as many as 12 in the first half, but Citadel kept things close by knocking down 11 threes for the game. The Bulldogs eventually sealed the win with free throws down the stretch.
Both of these teams had rough starts to the season, but both have turned things around of late during conference play. If the Bulldogs can contain Sumler, they'll have a good shot at claiming victory on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Samford 66, Western Carolina 63
01/17 10:35:46 ET