Jan. 16, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina opens a two-game Southern Conference road swing on Thursday night, visiting divisional foes Samford before traveling to Chattanooga on Saturday. Tip-off from Samford's Pete Hanna Center is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm CT, with Saturday's game scheduled for a 7:00 pm start.
Both games this week will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 920 AM WPTL in Canton; and on ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM in Asheville/Canton. Fans can also listen online with streaming audio through Stretch Internet at www.CatamountSports.com.
Western Carolina (7-10, 4-1 SoCon) looks to bounce back after suffering its first conference defeat last Monday, falling to Elon, 80-67, in the Ramsey Center. The 13-point loss was only the 12th double-figure home defeat for the Catamounts under head coach Larry Hunter and the first since a 12-point home defeat back on Feb. 6, 2010. It was the Catamounts' worst home loss since suffering a 15-point loss to Davidson at home on Jan. 21, 2008.
Winners of three-straight in head-to-head meetings, Western Carolina leads the all-time series with Samford, 8-2, including a 2-2 overall mark in games played in Birmingham, Ala. WCU has won six of the last seven meetings overall with the Bulldogs.
The past two meetings - both Catamount victories - have been decided by a combined six points as WCU tied a school-record with 17 made 3-pointers in a two-point win at home (79-77) and edged the Bulldogs in the conference opener a year ago, 75-71, on the road. Redshirt junior Trey Sumler - who ranks second in the SoCon in scoring at 17.8 points per game - nearly averaged a double-double last year against Samford. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game including a double-dip of 15 points and 11 rebounds, while classmate Brandon Boggs averaged 15.5 points in the two seasonal meetings.
On Thursday, WCU will again have the services of redshirt junior guard Tom Tankelewicz who missed the Elon game on Monday night. As of Tuesday, Jan. 15, his academic eligibility was confirmed by the NCAA making him eligible for competition in the spring semester. Tankelewicz leads the Catamounts with 44 made 3-pointers, averaging 2.8 per game to ranks second in the league.
Samford (5-12, 3-1 SoCon) enters Thursday night's game riding a two-game win streak, sweeping both ends of its Charleston road swing over College of Charleston and The Citadel. The Bulldogs have three victories in their last eight games, but have dropped back-to-back home games to both Sam Houston State and divisional foe, Chattanooga.
Under new head coach, Bennie Seltzer, the Bulldogs have two players averaging double-figure scoring in sophomore Rajon Kelly at 14.9 points per game - seventh in the SoCon - while freshman Tim Williams leads all conference rookies with 14.3 point and 7.2 rebound per game averages.
On Saturday, the Catamounts venture into the McKenzie Arena, home of the Chattanooga Mocs for a 7:00 pm tip-off. The two teams have swapped the divisional crown in three of the last five seasons. WCU and UTC split their two seasonal meetings for a seventh-straight season last year, both winning their respective home court. WCU has dropped 32 of the 34 all-time meetings at McKenzie Arena, last scoring a victory at Chattanooga with a six-point, 73-67, win back on Jan. 8, 2007.
Chattanooga mirrors WCU with an identical 7-10 overall record entering their Thursday night date with Appalachian State (7-8, 3-1 SoCon), and has a 2-2 conference. The Mocs are led by Z. Mason at 13.2 points per game - 16th in the SoCon - and lead the league in offensive rebounding at 13.5 board per game, just ahead of WCU's second-place 12.6 rebound per game average.