ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Appalachian State University men’s basketball makes the short trip to Asheville, N.C. this weekend in search of the program’s third Southern Conference Tournament title.
The Mountaineers (12-17, 7-11 SoCon) earned the North Division’s fifth seed and square off with College of Charleston in Friday’s opening round. The winner advances to face North Division champion UNCG in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
Appalachian is 40-38 all-time in SoCon Tournament play. ASU last advanced to the championship game in 2010. Last season, ASU downed Georgia Southern, 65-57, in the opening round before falling to eventual champion Wofford.
ASU enters the tournament relying on several seniors to step up to extend and extend their careers. Omar Carter leads the team in scoring with 11.6 points per game on 39.7 percent shooting. He adds 5.6 rebounds per contest and is second on the team with 53 assists.
Andre Williamson leads the team in rebounding (6.8 per game) and blocks (1.4) and stands among the league leaders in both categories in addition to his 57.6 percent field goal accuracy. The forward ranks second on the squad with 9.8 points per game.
Fifth-year senior Isaac Butts dominates the paint with a 64.1 field-goal percentage to account for 7.2 points per game. The center adds 6.2 boards per contest and has swatted 17 blocks on the year, the second most on the team.
Petey Hausley rounds out the graduating class with 2.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in just 8.6 minutes per game. The forward from Marion, N.C. has seen action in 14 games with a pair of starts. He shoots 42.4 percent from the field with seven blocks on the season.
SCOUTING THE COUGARS:
• College of Charleston (19-11, 10-8 SoCon) closed out the regular season with six wins in its final seven games, beginning with a 74-62 victory at ASU on Feb. 4.
• The Cougars are led by Antwaine Wiggins’ 15.9 points per game. Andrew Lawrence adds 12.9 points and a team-high 5.6 assists per game, while Trent Wiedeman adds 11.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest.
• CofC is 9-7 away from home this season, including a 2-1 mark in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November. The squad won six of its nine SoCon road contests.
• Interim head coach Mark Byington is 7-3 since taking over the team on Jan. 27.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS:
• UNCG (12-18, 10-8 SoCon) won 10-of-11 games from mid-January to mid-February before dropping the final three contests of the regular season by an average of 13.3 points.
• Trevis Simpson leads the SoCon with 18.2 points per game despite shooting just 38.1 percent from the field on the season.
• Derrell Armstrong also averages double figures with 12.5 points per game. Drew Parker leads the team with 82 assists while David Williams hauls in 5.2 rebounds per contest.
• Wes Miller took the reigns of the program as interim head coach on Dec. 14.
• The Spartans are 5-13 away from the Greensboro Coliseum this season.
NOTING THE BRACKET:
• ASU enters the SoCon Tournament as the North’s fifth seed for the third time in program history, and holds a 3-2 record from the slot (divisional seeding began in 1995 and was briefly discontinued from 2006-08).
• The Mountaineers have faced College of Charleston seven times in the tournament and hold a 4-3 record after downing the Cougars, 77-54, in the 2010 semifinal.
• ASU is just 0-1 against Saturday’s opponent, UNCG. The Spartans took down ASU, 63-46, in the opening round of the 2008 event.
• The Apps are 10-12 at the tournament when it is held in Asheville (1984-95).