Western Carolina (17-17) vs. Davidson (24-7)
Monday, March 5, 9:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: U.S. Cellular Center (7,654) -- Asheville, North Carolina Television: ESPN2. Home Record: WCU 9-4, Davidson 13-2. Away Record: WCU 4-12, Davidson 9-5. Neutral Record: WCU 4-1, Davidson 2-0. Conference Record: WCU 8-10, Davidson 16-2. Series Record: Davidson leads, 37-20.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded Davidson Wildcats will attempt to return to the Big Dance as they square off with the streaking Western Carolina Catamounts in the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament Championship Game as the U.S. Cellular Center.
Davidson will be facing WCU for the second time this season. On Jan. 12, the Wildcats dominated the Catamounts, 88-67, at Belk Arena to own a 37-20 record versus WCU in history.
WCU improved its overall record to 17-17 and advanced to its first SoCon tournament final since 1996 with an 82-77 victory over the top seed from the North, UNC Greensboro, on Sunday evening. The Catamounts are attempting to become the first team since the 1939 Clemson Tigers to win four games en route to a SoCon Tournament title. WCU had taken down The Citadel and Wofford in its first two games of the event. Although fatigue might be setting in, the Catamounts still managed to hold a 36-30 advantage in the rebounding battle on Sunday to power its win.
Senior Harouna Mutombo has been a man on a mission so far in the SoCon Tournament. Mutombo has led the team in each of its first three games to average 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the post-season. Trey Sumler had a great all-around performance for the second night in a row on Sunday, as he finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Keaton Cole had a huge performance against UNCG as well, as he knocked down 5-of-8 from three- point range in the contest.
The Wildcats improved to 24-7 overall with a win over Elon in their SoCon Tournament semifinal matchup on Saturday. The Wildcats showed why they are the top-seed in the tourney by thumping the Phoenix and running away with an 83-67 victory. SoCon Coach of the Year Bob McKillop hopes his squad carries its stellar play from the semifinals into the championship game. The Wildcats shot 46.8 percent from the floor and only committed five turnovers on Saturday as they ran past the Phoenix. Davidson is going to be a difficult team to slow down, as it is ranked 18th in the nation in scoring at 77.8 ppg. The Wildcats have a chance at winning their 11th SoCon Conference title, which would be the most by any program in the tournament's 91-year history.
Davidson is one of the few teams in the country that has all five starters carrying double-digit scoring averages. De'Mon Brooks leads the balanced Wildcats with 15.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Jake Cohen is almost as productive with averages of 13.6 points and 6.0 boards per outing. JP Kuhlman, Nik Cochran, and Chris Czerapowicz round out the talented starting five. Cohen led the team with 24 points against WCU, and Brooks chipped in 20 points and six rebounds.
Although Davidson is going to playing the role of Goliath in this one, do not count out the Catamounts. Mutombo, Sumler, and Cole are playing the best basketball of their careers to keep WCU alive. The Catamounts have not faced a team as talented as Davidson along their run, and although their momentum will keep them in the game, McKillop's Wildcats have what it takes to match anything WCU throws out there.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Davidson 78, Western Carolina 59
03/05 10:33:15 ET