Charlotte (2-1) vs. Kansas State (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 21, 10:30 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coliseo Roberto Clemente (10,000) -- San Juan, Puerto Rico. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Charlotte 2-0, KSU 2-1. Away Record: Charlotte 0-1, KSU 0-0. Neutral Record: Charlotte 0-0, KSU 0-0. Conference Record: Charlotte 0-0, KSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off gets underway on Thursday, as the Charlotte 49ers battle the Kansas State Wildcats in San Juan.
Bruce Weber's Wildcats are venturing outside of Manhattan for the first time this season. Kansas State opened the 2013-14 campaign with three straight games at the Bramlage Coliseum and went 2-1, with a season-opening loss to Northern Colorado (60-58), followed by back-to-back wins over Oral Roberts (71-63) and Long Beach State (71-58).
Alan Major's 49ers sport an identical 2-1 mark thus far. Charlotte has posted home wins over East Tennessee State (80-75) and Elon (83-69) sandwiched around a road loss to College of Charleston (83-82). Charlotte has increased its win total in each of the last three seasons, culminating in last year's 21-win campaign.
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams. The winner will move on to the second round and face either Georgetown or Northeastern on Friday.
The 49ers have eclipsed the 80-point mark in each of their first three games, so early indications are that this team will not struggle at the offensive end. Charlotte is shooting a steady .458 from the floor overall and putting up 81.7 ppg. The overall shooting percentage could be much higher if not for a lack of efficiency from long range to this point (.237). However, the team has made up for it somewhat by holding a +8.7 rebounding edge, with five players grabbing six boards per game or more. Five players are also in double-figure scoring and provide the majority of the points. Shawn Lester has not started a game yet, but still leads Charlotte with 17.7 ppg. Pierra Henry is a close second at 17.0 ppg, followed by Terrence Williams (14.0 ppg), Mike Thorne Jr. (13.7 ppg) and Willie Clayton (13.0 ppg). The 6-8 Clayton is tops on the team in rebounding, grabbing 9.7 caroms per outing.
In the 14-point win over Elon, the 49ers shot just over 50 percent from the floor, outscored the Phoenix 23-5 at the free-throw line and held a 47-26 advantage in rebounding. Lester was once again stellar coming off the bench, hitting 9-of-13 shots from the floor and finishing with 24 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes of work. Williams poured in 16 points, followed by Thorne (14 pts), Henry (13 pts) and Clayton (12 pts), who completed a double- double of his own with 11 boards.
The Wildcats were outrebounded 40-29, but outscored LBSU at the free-throw line 20-8 in earning a 13-point win at home last time out. Freshman guard Marcus Foster led three Wildcats in double figures, with 17 points. All four of his baskets came from behind the arc (4-of-8), while he went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Senior guard Shane Southwell added 14 points to the cause, while senior guard Omari Lawrence came off the bench to tally 10.
Despite the winning record thus far, Weber has to be concerned with the team's lack of scoring punch in the early going. Kansas State is shooting a mere .417 from the floor through three games and putting up a modest 66.7 ppg. In addition, the team has been pushed around inside and is currently saddled with a -6.0 rebounding margin. Foster has made an immediate impact on the K-State roster as the 6-2 youngster leads the team with 16.7 ppg, thanks in part to his 42.1 percent shooting from behind the arc. Sophomore forward D.J. Johnson rounds out the team's double-digit threats thus far with 10.0 ppg. The 6-9 Johnson is tops on the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg).
Scoring and rebounding have been early strengths for the 49ers, while both are areas of concern for the Wildcats. Look for Charlotte to use its physical play and balanced attack to move on in this event.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Charlotte 75, Kansas State 68
11/21 10:30:32 ET