Feb. 1, 2012
Catamount Basketball Spotlight - Harouna Mutombo
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina returns home to the friendly confines of the Ramsey Center on Thursday night as it hosts Southern Conference North Division rival, Chattanooga. Thursday is the Catamounts' "White Out" game with all fans encouraged to wear white to the game. The first 500 WCU students to the game will receive a commemorative "White Out" T-shirt.
Thursday night's game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and can be seen online through ESPN3.com or the sport network's streaming video page, WatchESPN.com. Darren Goldwater and Dean Keener have the call with air time of 7:00 pm.
Watch Thursday Night's Game on ESPN3
Fans can also tune into the Catamount Sports Network coverage of the game locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee and 920 AM WPTL in Canton. Streaming audio is also available online at www.CatamountSports.com. Air time is 6:30 pm with Gary Ayers and Steven Crumpler handling the broadcast.
Both teams enter Thursday night's divisional showdown struggling as of late and sport identical records of 9-14, 3-7 in the SoCon. The Catamounts have dropped four games in a row, and are winless in their last six SoCon games after opening the year 3-1 in league play. Chattanooga is likewise amidst a drought, stumbling into Cullowhee losers of six-straight and yet to score a victory away from the McKenzie Arena this year.
This year has been unfamiliar to two of the better teams in the SoCon's North Division over the past several seasons. WCU and UTC have shared two of the last three divisional crowns with the Mocs also winning the SoCon tournament on their home court the one season it did not win the North.
Despite the recent struggles, the Catamounts have gotten improved play in the post from sophomore forward Tawaski King. The Dublin, Ga., native has recorded five-straight, double-digit scoring outings including the first two double doubles of his collegiate career. King is averaging 12.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game over his last five outings while averaging nine points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds per game for the Catamounts during January.
King's improved play comes at a good time as Chattanooga rolls into the Ramsey Center. In the first meeting between the two squads, the Mocs outscored WCU in the paint by a count of 42-to-16 with UTC's Serbian post, Drazen Zlovaric, posting a double-double with a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Catamounts quartet of big men combined to score just nine points and pull down 10 rebounds.
Western Carolina enters the game atop the SoCon in terms of steals (7.9 spg) and turnover margin (+1.7), and is second in the league in blocked shots per game (3.8 bpg) despite not having a single player inside the league's top 10 overall. Chattanooga boasts the league's most pass-friendly offense, dishing out an average of 15.6 assists per game, and the SoCon's stingiest defense as the Mocs limit foes to just 39.5-percent shooting on the year - 34th in the nation.
Tip-off on ESPN3 is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. CHATTANOOGA - THE SERIES: Western Carolina trails Chattanooga in the all-time series, 20-57 with the first-ever meeting coming back in 1969 ... WCU trails by one game, 17-18, in series meetings in Cullowhee, but has won four-straight over the Mocs in the Ramsey Center ... Over the past five seasons, the two squads have split the two regular season meetings, winning on its respective home court each of the past three years ... Chattanooga was the last team to sweep the seasonal meetings, winning nine-straight from 2000-06.
WCU VS. UTC - SOCON THURSDAY STORY LINES:
- Western Carolina is seeking its fifth-straight home victory over Chattanooga ... the average margin of victory in WCU's current four-game home win streak is just six points, defeating the Mocs by just one a year ago, 69-68;
- Something's got to give on Thursday night as the Mocs enter having dropped five-straight while Western Carolina is winless in its last four games - and has dropped six-straight in SoCon play ... Whereas five of WCU's wins on the year have come at home, UTC is winless (0-10) on the road.
A WESTERN CAROLINA VICTORY WOULD:
- End the Catamounts' six-game slide in SoCon play;
- Give WCU head coach Larry Hunter his 100th win as the head coach in Cullowhee ... Hunter already ranks third in school history with 99 wins behind Jim Gudger (311 wins) and Steve Cottrell (145 wins) ... He would be the sixth different head coach active in SoCon with 100 victories at a conference school.
Keaton Cole SHOOTS INTO 3-POINTER TOP-TEN AT WESTERN CAROLINA: Senior guard Keaton Cole moved into the Catamounts' all-time 3-pointers made Top 10 with his career performance at Chattanooga ... Cole stands in ninth-place with 154 made treys in his four-year WCU career ... The Toronto, Ontario, Canada native is just ONE made 3-pointers shy of tying former teammate Brandon Giles who made 155 3-pointers from 2006-10 ... Cole has smashed his previous single-season career-high of 39 made 3-pointers, already with 66 - and counting ... Cole RANKS 19TH in the nation in 3-pointers per game (2.9).