Duke (8-1) vs UNC-Asheville (4-5)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 7:30 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: Big South Nickname: Bulldogs Colors: Blue and White Head Coach: Eddie Biedenbach (13th season) Career Record at UNC-Asheville: 167-184
Projected Starters: 45 Jason Ridenhour (6-5, 200, Jr.) – 9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg 4 John Williams (6-4, 205, So.) – 11.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg 20 Reid Augst (6-6, 215, Sr.) – 14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg 15 Sean Smith (6-6, 200, So.) – 11.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg 10 J.P. Primm (6-1, 190, Fr.) – 9.9 ppg, 6.5 apg Key Reserves: 2 Matt Dickey (6-1, 180, Fr.) – 7.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg 4 Chris Stephenson (6-3, 205, Fr.) – 3.6ppg,2.7 rpg 35 Quinard Jackson (6-5, 230, Fr.) – 3.5 ppg,2.5 rpg 42 Eric Stubbs (6-8, 225, So.) - 2.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Storylines For UNCA-Asheville:
How They Got Here:
After running through their first eight games with a perfect record, fatigue and a motivated opponent caught Duke in Ann Arbor on December 6th as Michigan's 1-3-1 defense stifled the Blue Devil offense en route to an 81-73 victory. UNC-Asheville began the season with three straight wins before losing five straight that included losses to #1 North Carolina and #13 Tennessee by a combined 86 points.
This will be the first meeting between the two programs. However, the Blue Devils have an overall 24-9 record against teams currently in the Big South Conference.
The Blue Devils returned from Ann Arbor for exams and a chance to rest. Over the last ten days the entire Duke roster has been able to practice at full speed and is expected to be 100% on Wednesday night.
Short On Experience:
UNC Asheville may have the youngest roster in Division I college basketball. There are 17 players on the Bulldog roster with 13 of those players either freshmen or sophomores. Eight Bulldogs are freshmen, while five players are sophomores.
The inexperience resulted in the Bulldogs being picked to finish ninth in the Big South after tying for the conference championship a season ago.
Of those freshmen, J.P. Primm has been the one with the most immediate impact - averaging just short of 10 points and six assists per game. Currently the 6'1 Tennessee native leads the Big South Conference in assists. Backup point and classmate Matt Dickey has been nearly as good off the bench averaging 7.5 points per contest. Second year players Sean Smith and John Williams have been serviceable on the wing combining for 23.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Smith is shooting 48% from the perimeter while Williams is coming off a career high 18 points against VMI two contests ago.
Make Sure To Lookout For...
Senior big forward Reid Augst who at 6'6 and 215lbs is the defacto post player in the UNCA system, while also being the team's lone returning starter. The experience has been coming through over the last few games with Augst logging a career best 29 points against VMI and following that up with 20 points and seven boards against Catawba to help the Bulldogs rebound for a 84-67 win.
Another returning contributor from last season is Williams who came off the bench a season ago to score six points per game while blocking 51 shots while hitting 58% from the field. Williams set a career high in points on opening night with 16 points vs. Belmont-Abbey and followed up with 14 points against Montreat. He had his first double-double of the year with 11 rebounds vs. Montreat.
After seeing the offense sputter throughout their time at Michigan and having not been overly consistent on that end of the floor for much of the season - this game will give the Blue Devils a chance to apply the lessons learned over the last 10 days while also preparing for top 10 opponent Xavier on Saturday. Duke will have a significant height advantage on the Bulldogs and will likely utilize Lance Thomas in the post a great deal to counter UNCA's rotation which lacks any real size and athleticism. Look for Duke to start a bit rusty but to shake it off and win comfortably.