Jan. 23, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina collides with South Division leading Davidson in a rematch of last year's epic double-overtime Southern Conference Championship game Thursday night in the Ramsey Center. The game has been billed as a "White Out," with all fans encouraged to wear white in support of the Catamounts in this key conference showdown.
Thursday night's game 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 ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM in Asheville. Live streaming audio (free) and video stream through Catamount All-Access (subscription) are available online at www.CatamountSports.com.
The clash at the Ramsey Center - the first of two regular season meetings this season - is the first since the thrilling double-overtime game played last March at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Rallying behind a raucous purple-and-gold clad crowd, Western Carolina erased a 13-point deficit over the final 2:47, forcing an extra session on three made free throws by Keaton Cole with 11 seconds to play. Harouna Mutombo tied the game at 86 with a pair of charity tosses inside the game's final 30 seconds and a defensive stop by the Catamounts at the other end forced into a second overtime.
Davidson's Clint Mann slipped through the WCU defense on Davidson's final offensive possession to put the top-seeded Wildcats ahead, 93-91, before Cole had a long look at a would-be game-winning 3-pointer from the top of the key that just rimmed out.
WCU (8-11, 5-2 SoCon) enters Thursday's game following a rare road win over divisional rival, Chattanooga. The nine-point, 90-81, victory snapped a five game road winless drought and was just the Catamounts' third win over UTC at McKenzie Arena all-time (3-32) - two of which are by current head coach Larry Hunter.
For a second-straight game, the Catamounts shot over 50-percent from the floor. WCU shot 50.9-percent in a road loss at Samford last Thursday before torching the McKenzie Arena nets on 31-of-58 shooting - 53.4-percent - including a season-high 12 made 3-pointers.
The Catamounts are paced by redshirt junior Trey Sumler, who leads the conference in scoring at 17.9 points per game - an average that jumps to 20.1 ppg in conference games. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native is riding a string of 10-straight double-digit scoring outings. Last year against Davidson, Sumler averaged 11 points in the two meetings - and is averaging 15.3 ppg in three career match-ups with the Wildcats thanks to 24 points in his first-ever meeting in 2010-11.
Junior Tawaski King turned in a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds in the season finale last year against Davidson. That performance ignited a string of 11-straight double-digit scoring efforts this season for the Dublin, Ga., native. King is coming off back-to-back double-digit scoring outings at both Samford and Chattanooga entering Thursday night.
Davidson (11-7, 6-1 SoCon) enters the conference "cat fight" after consecutive home victories over divisional foes, The Citadel and College of Charleston. The third-highest scoring team in the SoCon at 71.4 points per game - a mark that jumps to a league-leading 73.4 points per game in league play - Davidson has two players averaging double-digit scoring on the year. Preseason SoCon Player of the Year, De'Mon Brooks, leads the way at 13.8 points per game while Jake Cohen is scoring at a 13.1 point per game clip. Those two players split the post-season top player awards a year ago.
Combined, four of the top seven active scorers in the SoCon will be in the Ramsey Center on Thursday night. Cohen has 1,523 career points, followed by J.P. Kuhlman (1,294 points) in second with WCU's Sumler currently third among the active players at 1,192 points. The fourth player is De'Mon Brooks at 1,044 career points.
Both the Catamounts and Wildcats were the final two teams to suffer a loss in league play this season, falling on the same night. WCU dropped an 80-67 decision at home to Elon while Davidson was upended, 70-57, at Georgia Southern.
Tip-off from the Ramsey Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm.