Appalachian State (1-6) at Western Carolina (3-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 8, 4:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ramsey Center (7,826) -- Cullowhee, North Carolina. Television: None. Home Record: Appalachian State 1-2, WCU 1-0. Away Record: Appalachian State 0-4, WCU 1-5. Neutral Record: Appalachian State 0-0, WCU 1-1. Conference Record: Appalachian State 0-0, WCU 1-0. Series Record: Appalachian State leads, 111-65.
GAMES NOTES: A Southern Conference rivalry will be rekindled on Saturday when the Appalachian State Mountaineers face off with the western Carolina Catamounts at the Ramsey Center.
The losses for Appalachian State have really piled up as the Mountaineers have dropped six straight since a season-opening win over Montreat. Four of those defeats have come on the road, including a 72-56 defeat to No. 12 Missouri last Saturday. Five of the Mountaineers' six losses have come by double digits. Appalachian is in the midst of a four-game road trip that continues against UMKC next Sunday.
Western Carolina has dropped its last two games to fall to 3-6 overall this season. Before the current skid the Catamounts had managed to string two wins together but have otherwise struggled to get in the win column. Western Carolina has played only one other game at home which ended in a 95-68 victory over Mars Hill. It will be a quick turnaround for the Catamounts who hit the road next Saturday against Georgetown.
These instate rivals have a great deal of history between them with this game marking the 177th meeting. Appalachian State has largely controlled the series with a 111-65 record against Western Carolina. However, the Catamounts have won three of the last four meetings, with the season series split last year.
Appalachian State had half as many field goals as Missouri in the first half and dug itself into a 39-21 hole at halftime. Despite improving to 48.1 percent shooting in the second frame, the Mountaineers were never able to threaten the Tigers. Missouri beat up on Appalachian State inside with a 45-31 edge in rebounds and a 42-25 advantage in points in the paint. Jay Canty poured in 29 points for ASU but turned the ball over six times.
Although they were slowed against Missouri, the Mountaineers are normally a solid scoring bunch. Appalachian State is scoring 72.6 points per game this season despite shooting the SoCon's seventh best field goal percentage (43.2). The defensive end is another matter. Foes are putting in 79.3 points per game and hitting on nearly 50 percent of their shots from the field. Canty (18.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.3 apg) has been no stranger to large offensive outbursts. The 6-foot-6 swingman has scored more than 20 points four times. It isn't just scoring that Canty has provided as he leads the team in rebounds and assists as well. Nathan Healy (13.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is a capable second option, as is Tabarris Hamilton (12.0 ppg).
The Catamounts also squared off with a nationally ranked foe in their last outing but were unable to pull off an upset in a 72-64 loss to No. 13 Illinois. Western Carolina shot just 38.5 percent in the game including a 6- of-22 showing in the first half. The Catamounts managed to keep the score within reason by nailing nine triples. Preston Ross had a game-high 17 points while Brandon Boggs scored 16 points while hitting 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc.
Western Carolina should be able to keep pace with Appalachian State as the Catamounts are scoring at an identical 72.6 points per game this season. The Catamounts are actually the second best shooting team in the SoCon (44.4 FG percentage). The Catamounts have largely fought to even with opponents with teams shooting just a percentage point below Western Carolina while the Catamounts have a -0.5 scoring differential. Trey Sumler (16.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.6 apg) will be looking to get back on track against Appalachian State. He had only eight points on 4-of-10 shooting. The do-it-all player did pull down nine boards and dish out eight assists though. Tawaski King (13.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is the second option and the top rebounder while Boggs (9.9 ppg) is a gunner from long range.
Appalachian State can blame some of its early struggles on the schedule it has faced. However that is not enough to make up for the current losing streak. Western Carolina may not be set to dominate in this matchup but the Catamounts will have the upper hand.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 74, Appalachian State 68
12/08 10:37:14 ET