G- Saah Nimley (15.9 ppg, 4.9 apg)
G- Arlon Harper (12.3 ppg, 3.5 apg)
F- Aaron Wheeler (8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F- Paul Gombwer (5.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
F- Cedrick Bowen (9.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
Saah Nimley -- An experienced player, Nimley leads the Bucs in scoring and assists. A prolific three-point shooter, he will be the focal point of the Wolfpack's defense.
Charleston Southern Notables
Charleston Southern begins a challenging three-game road trip with its seventh all-time matchup against North Carolina State, and first since 2001. CSU has already knocked off a power-conference foe this season in Ole Miss, and trailed Florida State by a point with 7:54 remaining in a close loss to end the month of November.
The Bucs bounced back from that defeat to post wins over Western Carolina and Columbia International, pushing their mark to 5-2 for the first time since 2011 and only the seventh time in the program’s 50-year history.
N.C. State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons under coach Mark Gottfried. The Wolfpack are off to a 7-1 start this year, with the only loss a five-point setback at Purdue.
Redshirt junior guard Trevor Lacey is pacing three players averaging double figures scoring for N.C. State, as he is tallying 16.8 points per night while shooting 51 percent from the field and 42 percent (15-of-36) from three-point range.
REBOUNDING: STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
CSU and N.C. State rank 18th and 20th, respectively, in rebounding margin as of games played through Monday night.
The Bucs out-rebounded Western Carolina by eight (42-34), and Columba International by 15 (47-32) in a pair of victories last week. CSU has been out-rebounded only once this season, and was +4 and +6 on the glass in contests against bigger Ole Miss and - much bigger - Florida State teams.
Senior Will Saunders paces CSU and ranks 7th in the Big South with seven rebounds per game. Aaron Wheeler (5.4) and Saah Nimley (5.0) are each pulling down better than five boards a night. N.C. State sophomore Lennard Freeman is leading the Wolfpack with 8.4 rebounds per game.
NOT LIVING AND DYING BY THE THREE
CSU is hanging its hat on much more than the three-point shot this season. The Bucs’ 10 made threes per game are currently eighth most in the country, but CSU is also among the top-50 in rebounding margin (18th), offensive rebounds per game (19th) and field-goal percentage defense (50th). CSU has ranked 2nd and 3rd in three-pointers made per game the last two years, and has been in the top-40 in scoring offense for three years running.
Charleston Southern senior Saah Nimley posted his 24th and 25th career 20+ point scoring efforts in the Bucs’ wins last week.
Nimley tallied 22 points in the Western Carolina triumph, and poured in 21 and added seven assists in just 24 minutes of action in the rout of Columbia International. He had been struggling with his shot in the month of November, but was extremely efficient to start December. Nimley hit 12-of-18 field goals last week, including 9-of-14 from three-point range and 10-of-12 at the free-throw line.
Nimley is only the 20th player in Big South history with over 1,000 points and 400 assists in a career. He currently ranks 21st in Big South history with 419 assists, and is also the 34th player in league history to hit 200 or more three-pointers.
DIFFICULT DIVISION I DECEMBER SLATE
Beginning with tonight’s game, Charleston Southern’s next three opponents (through games played Monday) are a combined 22-3.
CSU will meet SoCon favorite Wofford (7-2) on December 17, before jetting out to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State (8-0) of the Mountain West Conference. CSU opened the month of December with a victory over a Western Carolina team that won 19 games and advanced to the SoCon Tournament championship last season.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh passed Gary Edwards as the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 92-50 win over Erskine on Nov. 17.
Radebaugh has led CSU to 67 wins over the past four seasons, including back-to-back 19-win campaigns in 2011-12 and 2012-13. CSU won its first Big South regular season championship in 26 years in 2012-13, and advanced to the NIT for the first time in school history.
Senior guards Arlon Harper and Saah Nimley have been instrumental in CSU’s recent success. Harper’s 1,316 points are 8th most in CSU history. Nimley matched a career-high with 27 points vs. Central Arkansas to move into 10th place on the CSU career scoring list, and now ranks 9th with 1,314 points. He moved into 2nd place in career assists at CSU with six at Florida State.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
CSU has held opponents to 30 percent or worse from the field in six different halves this season. The Bucs have also limited five of their seven opponents to less than 40 percent shooting overall, including both Ole Miss (30 percent) and Florida State (37 percent).
CSU was dominant defensively in the first half of last Monday’s win over Western Carolina (30 percent) and the second half of Thursday’s rout of Columbia International (24 percent).
HE’S BAAACK - NIMLEY LEADING CSU’S HIGH POWERED ATTACK
There were plenty of encouraging signs in the month of November for CSU, but the most pleasant of all may be the sight of Saah Nimley at point guard. Nimley has returned from a knee injury that derailed the back half of last season, and enjoyed his best week yet at the turn of the calendar. He matched a career-high with 27 points in the Bucs’ win over Central Arkansas, moving into tenth-place on CSU’s career scoring list in the process.
Nimley struggled shooting the ball against Florida State, but delivered another tough performance versus the Seminole’ s size and length. He pulled down nine rebounds to help CSU to a +6 edge on the glass, and dished out six assists as well. Nimley had four assists in less than three minutes of game time in the second half, as his dribble penetration keyed a 14-3 run to cut FSU’s 14-point lead to three with 7:54 left.
Charleston Southern currently ranks 32nd nationally with a +9.2 rebounding margin.
The Bucs out-rebounded a Florida State team with three 7-footers and six players 6-8 or taller, 40-34, on Friday. CSU also had a 15-8 edge on the offensive boards. Senior Paul Gombwer led the way with ten rebounds. It was Gombwer’s 20th career 10+ rebound effort.
SAUNDERS’ SHOOTING HELPING LEAD BUCS
CSU senior Will Saunders connected on 4-of-9 three-point attempts against Central Arkansas, and was 16-for-39 (41%) from beyond the arc following an 0-for-5 opening half versus Ole Miss. Saunders is currently fourth in the Big South Conference in three-pointers made (18) and sixth in three-point field goal percentage (37%). Saunders buried two straight threes early in the second half against Ole Miss to break a 32-32 tie and spark an 8-0 run. He added another in overtime as CSU beat a power conference team for the second time in school history.
DEFENSE THE DIFFERENCE
Charleston Southern limited Central Arkansas to 26 percent shooting in the first half of its win. It was the fourth half this year the CSU has held an opponent to 30 percent or worse from the field. Ole Miss shot only 18 percent from the floor in CSU’ s dramatic season opening win. The Bucs held Erskine below the 30 percent mark in both halves of a dominant 92-50 wn.
Charleston Southern athletics contributed to this report.