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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 15, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Cassell Coliseum (9,847) -- Blacksburg, Virginia. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: WCU 2-0, VT 1-1. Away Record: WCU 0-1, VT 0-0. Neutral Record: WCU 0-0, VT 0-0. Conference Record: WCU 0-0, VT 0-0. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: The Western Carolina Catamounts will attempt to bounce back from a tough loss as they challenge the Virginia Tech Hokies in a non-conference tilt at Cassell Coliseum as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
The Catamounts held their own at Oregon on Wednesday and went into halftime trailing the 18th-ranked Ducks by just two points. However, Oregon pulled away late in the second half for a 107-83 decision, which dropped Western Carolina to 2-1 on the season. The contest in Eugene marked the season debut of Trey Sumler, who poured in a team-high 29 points after being reinstated from a suspension. Coach Larry Hunter's squad has been excellent on the offensive end through its first three games, which includes victories over Division III foe Wittenberg (77-55) and UNC-Asheville (74-67). Western Carolina has averaged 78 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting from the field. After being lit up by the Ducks, it is allowing 76.3 ppg on 48 percent efficiency.
After a shocking, 64-63, loss to USC Upstate in its season opener, Virginia Tech improved to 1-1 with an 87-82 victory over West Virginia on Tuesday in a contest that was part of the 24 hour tip-off marathon. The Hokies had plenty of chances to win in the final minutes versus USC Upstate but were unable to connect on their last five field goal attempts. They resolved their late game issues against the Mountaineers as they made their final four field goal attempts and went 5-of-5 at the free-throw line over the final 33 seconds.
This will be the fourth meeting in history between Western Carolina and Virginia Tech. The Hokies have been dominant thus far to build a 3-0 all-time series lead.
Sumler had no problem against a Pac-12 opponent in his season debut as he went 10-of-15 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc to begin his senior year with a magnificent performance. James Sinclair contributed 17 points to raise his scoring average to 15.7 ppg. Tom Tankelewicz has netted 13.3 ppg but has also committed 10 of Western Carolina's 38 turnovers. Hunter has not used a very deep rotation early on with only eight players getting more than 15 minutes of playing time in the first three outings.
Freshman guard Ben Emelogu has been excellent in his first two games of collegiate basketball for Virginia Tech. Emelogu, who was named the team captain despite being a rookie, tallied 22 points, six rebounds and three blocks versus WVU to lift the Hokies to their first win. Adam Smith is also making an impact on the program right away. Smith, who was an All-Rookie selection in the Colonial Athletic Association for UNC Wilmington in 2011-12, added 19 points on Tuesday while Devin Wilson contributed 16 points and four assists. Jarrell Eddie is tied for the team-leads in both scoring with 14 ppg and rebounding with five boards per tilt.
The Catamounts are a much more dangerous team with Sumler in the fold. The senior superstar seemed to run out of steam down the stretch at Oregon, but Hunter had no choice but to leave him on the floor as the offense became stagnant in the few minutes he was on the bench. Virginia Tech will need to deliver a solid effort on the defensive end for the entirety of the contest to avoid another early setback to a mid-major.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 82, Western Carolina 77
11/15 10:31:53 ET