CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina men's basketball team hits the road Wednesday for the annual "Battle for Purple Supremacy" as the Catamounts visit Upstate rival Furman. The Paladins are one of the hottest teams in the Southern Conference having lost just two conference games and recently knocked off one of the preseason favorites, ETSU. The Catamounts head to Furman having dropped their most recent contest to Mercer and look to get back on track against the Paladins. Furman leads the all-time series 39-29 and are 24-9 against the Catamounts in Greenville, but WCU has gone 10-6 against the Paladins since head coach Larry Hunter took over the program. The game will be carried live on ESPN3 with audio coverage provided on the Catamount Sports Network.
Western Carolina (6-14, 1-6 SoCon) at Furman (12-8, 5-2 SoCon)
Wednesday, Jan. 25 | 7 p.m. | Greenville, S.C. | Timmons Arena (3,500)
TV/Video Stream: ESPN3
Talent: Dan Scott (PxP) and Jim Davis (Analyst)
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
Talent: Gary Ayers (PxP) and Daniel Hooker (Analyst)
Live Stats: FurmanPaladins.com
Audio Stream: Catamount Sports Network
Twitter Updates: @Catamounts
WCU vs. Furman Opening Tip:
The Catamounts are looking for their second win of 2017 Wednesday night and their first win in Greenville since 2012.
WCU's top returning scorer against the Paladins is junior Haboubacar Mutombo who had nine points in WCU's victory over Furman in Cullowhee last season.
The Catamounts and Paladins have faced eight similar opponents this season including UNC Asheville, Hiwassee, The Citadel, Mercer, Samford, Chattanooga, ETSU and VMI. WCU is 2-6 in those contests with wins over Hiwassee and The Citadel while Furman went 6-2 with their two losses coming to UNC Asheville at home and Chattanooga on the road.
Western Carolina used its TENTH different starting lineup combination this season against VMI. Only three combinations have been used in more than one game.
The Paladins enter Wednesday riding a two-game winning streak and have won five of their last seven contests. Furman's two top scorers this season, Devin Sibley (16.4) and Kris Acox (12.6), averaged 18.5 and 11.5 points per game, respectively, against the Catamounts last season.
The Catamounts return home Saturday for a contest with Wofford.
WCU and Wofford will do battle on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7 pm.
Catamounts and Paladins
The Catamounts and Paladins rivalry dates back to the 1976-77 season.
WCU trails in the series 29-39 but the Catamounts have won six of the last 10 meetings between the two teams.
The Catamounts have won just nine of their 33 trips to Greenville over the years.
WCU and Furman split the season series last year with both teams winning on their home courts.
Furman won in Greenville, 62-60 while WCU won in Cullowhee, 73-62.
Junior Haboubacar Mutombo scored nine points in the victory over Furman in Cullowhee but did not make an appearance in the game in Greenville last season.
Making It Rain
From Jan. 2 to Jan. 19 freshman Onno Steger and sophomore Elijah Pughsley were sharpshooters from beyond the 3-point arc.
The pair combined to hit 31-of-51 3-pointers (60.8%) over the span of five games. Pughsley averaged 14.4 points per contest over the span while Steger scored at a 10.0 points per game clip.
Pughsley nailed 18-of-30 3-point attempts (60.0%) while Steger connected on 12-of-21 attempts (61.9%).
The pair struggled in the most recent contest with Mercer hitting just two of their combined 10 3-point attempts.
Career Night For All
Four Catamounts set career-highs in scoring Thursday night against The Citadel.
Sophomore Elijah Pughsley, whose previous career-high was 26 set last season at home against The Citadel, poured in a team-high 28 points to set a new career-best against the Bulldogs.
Junior Haboubacar Mutombo surpassed his previous career-high of 17 set earlier this season against Marquette with 22 points including going 10-of-13 inside the 3-point arc.
Junior Devin Peterson had a pair of career-highs as his 20 points passed his previous best of 19 points set back earlier this season versus Hiwassee and his 10 assists surpassed his previous high of seven assists set just seven days before against VMI.
The final career-night came from senior Kyle Rhoades who doubled his previous career-high in minutes with 26 which passed the 13 he played against Mars Hill earlier this year and his seven points bested his previous high of four which he scored against UNCG, West Virginia and Hiwassee this season and against Warren Wilson last season.