CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina men’s basketball team will wrap up its nine-day road trip this weekend as the Catamounts compete in the Barclays Center Classic Regional hosted by Niagara University. The Catamounts will open play Friday, Nov. 24 against a strong UT Arlington squad before facing either Niagara or Alabama A&M on Saturday. If WCU defeats UTA the Catamounts will face the winner of Niagara and Alabama A&M, if WCU loses they will face the loser of the previously mentioned contest. Freshman Matt Halvorsen continues to lead the 2017-18 WCU squad in scoring as he notched another career-high Tuesday night at UMass with 18 points. Fellow freshman Desmond Johnson recorded his first career double-figure performance against the Minutemen as he scored 17 points in the loss.
Western Carolina (1-4, 0-0 SoCon) vs. UT Arlington (2-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Friday, Nov. 24 | 7 p.m. | Niagara, N.Y. | Gallagher Center (2,100)
Live Stats: CatamountSports.com
Twitter Updates: @Catamounts
Catamounts Versus Mavericks
• The Catamounts and Mavericks have met just once and it was during the magical 1995-96 season for Western Carolina.
• WCU fell 92-83 to the Mavericks in Albuquerque, N.M., at the New Mexico Lobo Classic.
• The Catamounts would return to Albuquerque just a few months later to compete in the NCAA Tournament where they fell to the No. 1 seed Purdue by just two points.
• Current WCU assistant coach Anquell McCollum was on the 1995-96 squad and scored 25 points in the loss to UTA.
WCU and the Sun Belt
• The Catamounts have played eight of the 12 current members of the Sun Belt Conference and hold a 91-148 mark in those contests.
• The majority of those meetings came against teams who recently joined the Sun Belt including Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina.
• WCU is 72-118 against Appalachian State, 3-5 versus Coastal Carolina, 15-20 against Georgia Southern, 0-1 versus Georgia State, 0-1 against Louisiana-Lafayette, 1-1 versus Troy, 0-1 against Little Rock and 0-1 versus UTA.
• WCU’s most recent meeting with a current Sun Belt team was a 58-53 victory at Appalachian State last season. Haboubacar Mutombo led the Catamounts with 13 points in that contest while Devin Peterson added 11.
• The Barclays Center Classic this season will mark the 15th-straight year that the Catamounts have been a part of an in-season tournament.
• The Catamounts have a 16-33 combined record in these events including WCU’s losses at Minnesota and at UMass this season.
• Western Carolina’s best showing at an in-season tournament came during the 2009-10 season when the Catamounts were a part of the CBE Classic. WCU lost its opening game to third-ranked Texas, 73-41 before hosting and sweeping three games at home as part of the sub-regional round. The Catamounts defeated Arkansas-Monticello, Binghamton and Duquesne.
Johnson Cashes In
• Freshman Desmond Johnson made the most of his 19 minutes Tuesday night at UMass.
• The rookie scored a career-high 17 points in the loss while making nine trips to the charity stripe. He would knock down eight of those nine attempts.
• He is now a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point range after burying a 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Minutemen.
Freshmen Lead the Way
• Freshmen Matt Halvorsen and Desmond Johnson combined for 35 points Tuesday night against UMass.
• The last time a pair of WCU freshmen scored over 15 points in the same game was during the 2010-11 season when Trey Sumler and Brandon Boggs achieved the feat.
• Sumler had 19 points against UNCG while Boggs added 17. The pair would go on to both score over 1,300 career points.