CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern bids for a 2-0 week on Saturday when it plays host to UNC Asheville. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is slated for 5:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big South Network.
*Note: CSU will honor its 2016 Big South Conference championship football team in a halftime ceremony.
CSU (5-11, 1-4 Big South) posted a much-needed 70-64 victory over Radford on Wednesday. The Bucs led nearly the entire way to snap a seven-game losing streak and did so with their best defensive showing of the campaign. The 64 points CSU allowed was the lowest it has yielded to a Division I opponent this year. Christian Keeling gave the Bucs plenty offensively, meanwhile, racking up 33 points on an efficient 11-of-19 shooting.
Asheville (12-6, 4-1 Big South) figures to test the progress CSU has displayed over the last three games. The Bulldogs have won four in a row and enter off a pair of blowout triumphs over High Point and Longwood. Despite losing its All-Big South Freshman Team backcourt from last year's NCAA Tournament squad, Asheville sits in a three-way tie atop the league with Winthrop and Liberty.
CSU will be tasked with slowing down the Big South leader in three-point field goal percentage, assists, steals and turnover margin. Much like last year, Asheville's ability to create extra possessions is perhaps its greatest strength. The Bulldogs' +6.1 turnover margin is third-best nationally, and Ahmad Thomas (1st), MaCio Teague (6th) and Kevin Vannatta (8th) all sit among Big South leaders in steals. Thomas (16.1 PPG) and Teague (15.9 PPG) are both top-five in the league in scoring, while David Robertson is averaging 19.0 PPG since conference play began. The trio paces an Asheville squad that shoots 41 percent from three-point range, 11th best in the country.
The matchup also pits two early frontrunners for Big South Freshman of the Year in Keeling and Teague. They currently rank top-two among league freshmen in scoring, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. Like Keeling, Teague is coming off a big performance as he scored 27 points in Asheville's 89-68 win over Longwood Wednesday.
Keeling goes for 30
Christian Keeling erupted for 33 points in CSU's win over Radford. Keeling scored 15 in the first half to help the Bucs build a five-point halftime lead and then added 18 more after intermission. He matched a season-high with three three-pointers and was a perfect 8-for-8 at the free-throw line. Keeling's previous scoring high was a 24-point night at Virginia Tech on Dec. 20. He added ten rebounds in that game for his first career double-double.
All-around effort from Potter
Armel Potter controlled play for CSU in Wednesday night's win, filling out the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. The seven helpers matched a career-high. Over his last three games, Potter is averaging 15 points and 4.3 assists while shooting nearly 57 percent from the floor.
Uptick in defense the difference vs. Radford
CSU delivered its best defensive outing of the season against Radford, limiting the Highlanders to 64 points and 37.5 percent shooting while forcing 15 turnovers. The effort marked the first time this year the Bucs held a Division I opponent to less than 40 percent shooting. The previous best was 41.7 percent against Virginia Tech.
Asheville leads the all-time series, 40-36, and swept CSU a year ago. The Bulldogs erased an early 14-2 deficit last January at the Buc Dome and weathered a gritty CSU showing in Asheville a month later. CSU had a four-point lead at the seven-minute mark in the second half of the latter contest before falling, 63-55.
Howard still atop Big South in offensive boards
Javis Howard continues to pace the Big South in offensive rebounds, averaging 3.3 per game. Rebounding could be an advantage for CSU against Asheville. The Bucs rank third in the league in offensive rebounds and fourth in rebounding margin. The Bulldogs, conversely, sport a -3.8 rebounding margin that is eighth in the Big South and 300th nationally.