Gardner-Webb (2-3) vs. Howard (0-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moon Palace Resort (990) -- Cancun, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: GWU 1-1, Howard 0-1. Away Record: GWU 1-2, Howard 0-2. Neutral Record: GWU 0-0, Howard 0-0. Conference Record: GWU 0-0, Howard 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs and Howard Bison are set to square off in the opening round of the Cancun Classic at Moon Palace Resort in Mexico.
This will be the first meeting between these schools in history. Both were placed in the Mayan Division along with Western Carolina and Austin Peay, who will tip-off the tournament on Tuesday. The winners will advance to play in the championship round on Wednesday.
Gardner-Webb enters the tourney with a 2-3 overall record after its 65-56 loss at Iowa on Saturday. The Runnin' Bulldogs also suffered setbacks to North Carolina and Lipscomb, but they did manage to leave Chicago with a 71-59 win over the Big East's DePaul Blue Devils. Gardner-Webb is coached by Chris Holtmann, who is now in his third season with the program.
The Bison are off to an atrocious 0-3 start which includes wide-spread, double-digit losses to Wichita State and Iowa. Howard came out of the gates cold in 2012-2013 as it tipped off its season with a 68-62 setback to Lincoln University, which is a member of the NCAA's Division II. Coach Kevin Nickelberry is going to have a tough time turning around this Mid-Eastern Athletic program that finished 10-21 overall last season.
The Runnin' Bulldogs looked like they were going to pick up their second win on a row on Saturday as they led Iowa 38-18 at halftime, but the Hawkeyes produced a second half comeback behind an impressive 27-4 run. Gardner-Webb made 15- of-36 field goal attempts to build its first half lead, but its accuracy disappeared during the halftime and it made only 5-of-26 attempts from the floor in the final 20 minutes. The impressive aspect to Gardner- Webb's win over DePaul and strong performance versus Iowa is that the team was without two starters, Mike Byron and Tashan Newsome, for the both games. Max Landis paces the Runnin' Bulldogs with 14 ppg on 43.4 percent shooting while forward Donta Harper contributed 11.2 points and six boards per outing.
Howard played tough for the first 12 minutes versus Wichita State and trailed 16-14 with 7:27 left before the half. The Shockers then began to expose the Bison by holding them scoreless and forcing eight turnovers to build a 37-14 halftime advantage. The high total of turnovers seems to be a theme for Nickelberry's team in the early going as it averages 17.3 per game. Howard is scoring just 49.3 ppg on 35 percent field goal shooting. Senior guard Calvin Thompson did not play versus WSU, but he scored a team-best 27 points in the team's first two contests. Mike Phillips is the Bisons' most consistent player. The senior forward has scored in double-figures in all three games and averaged 5.3 rebounds per contest during that span.
The Bison are going to have a difficult time during their stay in Mexico unless they make some dramatic changes in a hurry. Howard is playing undisciplined basketball which is putting games well out of reach. The Runnin' Bulldogs hold a clear edge in terms of personnel which will create an easy path to the championship round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Gardner-Webb 70, Howard 53
11/20 10:34:32 ET