Virginia Military (24-7) at Radford (20-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 7th, 4:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Donald N. Dedmon Center (3,205) -- Radford, Virginia. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: VMI 13-3, Radford 11-5. Away Record: VMI 10-4, Radford 9-6. Neutral Record: VMI 1-0, Radford 0-0. Conference Record: VMI 13-5, Radford 15-3. Series Record: Radford leads, 16-13.
GAME NOTES: A trip to the NCAA Tournament is on the line this afternoon, as the Keydets of Virginia Military battle the Radford Highlanders in the Big South Conference Tournament title game.
The teams were awarded the top two seeds in this event, with Radford securing the No. 1 seed by virtue of its 15-3 league ledger and VMI the No. 2 seed after going 13-5 in conference. VMI earned its trip to this game by knocking off Coastal Carolina (96-76) and Liberty (78-58), while Radford picked up wins over High Point (82-58) and UNC Asheville (94-86).
VMI is playing in the Big South Championship Game for the second time in the last three years, and the Keydets have yet to win the title. Overall, the team is 4-3 in this event.
As for Radford, it won the 1998 crown with a 63-61 verdict against UNC Asheville, and is 20-22 all-time in the event. The Highlanders have won 16 of their last 18 games coming into this contest, and they are making their sixth BSC Tournament Championship Game appearance. Radford is hoping to become the fifth team in the last six years to win both the regular season and tournament titles in the Big South. The Highlanders' only BSC Tournament crown was earned in 1998.
These two teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season, with each winning on the other's home floor. Radford leads the all-time series, 16-13, and despite the loss at the Dedmon Center earlier this season, the Highlanders own a 9-3 home record over the Keydets.
Chavis Holmes scored 22 points to lead four players in double figures, as VMI handled Liberty in a 78-58 final in the semi-finals on Thursday. The game was close in the opening half, but the Keydets outscored the Flames, 51-26, over the final 20 minutes to earn the victory and the right to play for the Big South Tournament title. Travis Holmes finished with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists for the winners, while Ron Burks tallied 11 points and grabbed seven boards. Adam Lonon came off the bench to contribute 10 points for VMI, which made good on just 42.6 percent of its total shots in the game, but nailed 10 three-pointers, held Liberty to 38.6 percent shooting and took advantage of 17 turnovers. Chavis and Travis Holmes have been exceptional performers for the Keydets all season long, averaging 22.1 and 19.3 ppg, respectively, with both shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and combining for more than 10 rebounds and seven assists per outing. Austin Kenon adds 15.3 ppg and Keith Gabriel another 13.0 ppg for a team that is hitting 44.5 of its field goal attempts in netting an eye-popping 93.8 ppg. Unfortunately, the team's defensive effort has been rather lax with foes putting up 84.8 ppg on 50.3 percent overall shooting, and VMI is being consistently outrebounded by a significant margin.
Kenny Thomas poured in a career-high 35 points on the strength of five three- pointers and a 10-of-11 showing at the free-throw line, leading the Highlanders to their semifinal-round win over UNC Asheville. Joey Lynch-Flohr added 14 points and Chris McEachin came off the bench to tally 10 points for Radford, which shot 50.8 percent from the field, including a 7-of-14 effort from beyond the arc. Defensively, the Highlanders held UNCA to 33.3 percent field goal efficiency in the opening half to take a 10-point lead at intermission. Radford controlled matters in close to the basket, outscoring the Bulldogs in the paint, 44-28, and Artsiom Parakhouski nearly logged a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds. UNCA shot lights out from three-point land (13-of-18), particularly in the second half (11-of-15), but Radford claimed a 42-35 advantage on the glass to help thwart the Bulldogs' comeback attempt. Thomas' performance on Thursday tied the Big South Tournament record for points in a single game, impressive for a guy who averages 14.8 ppg behind a near 40 percent showing from downtown. Parakhouski is the team's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging a double-double consisting of 16.0 points and 11.0 caroms per contest, and he was named the Big South's Player of the Year for his efforts.
The top two seeds in the Big South should give the fans their money's worth this afternoon, and while Radford is the home team here, we are going to give the edge to the Keydets who already have a win over the Highlanders at the Dedmon Center on this year's resume'.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Military 85, Radford 79
03/07 10:26:08 ET