Longwood will play their first conference game in decade on Tuesday as they gear up for UNC Asheville in the first round of the Big South Tournament. These two teams first met on January 19 match up in Asheville, a 68-65 win for UNCA. Before that game Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach compared Longwood to Lenior-Rhyne a Division II school in North Carolina.
Longwood played well in the first match up against Asheville. David Robinson was hot in that game scoring 20 points and going four for six from behind the arch. Michael Kessens also had a big day with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The first match up with Asheville was also Lucas Woodhouse’s first Big South start. Despite Longwood’s play, poor clock management and questionable coaching decisions unraveled Longwood’s chances. Here was our summary from the last part of the game:
With 35 seconds left the Lancers were down 66-65 with a chance to win the game when things became questionable. Longwood had the ball and a difference of .03 seconds between the shot clock and game clock, simply put Longwood could take one shot to win the game. Mike Gillian instead opted for an early drive to the bucket by Lucas Woodhouse, which missed. Longwood then fouled and Asheville hit both of their free throw, Longwood had two timeouts left. The first timeout was taken by Gillian with 16 seconds left then another was taken when Woodhouse crossed half court with 14 seconds left. From there a play was drawn up which ended up with TT Carey missing an off balance three and Asheville escaped with a three point win.
So what has changed since the January match up in the mountains? Mike Gillian spoke of the positive momentum of the Asheville game, but apparently Longwood could not harness it losing their next five games after that one by an average margin of 22 points. Obviously though LU has been playing better of late winning four out of their last six conference games.
Asheville is known for rising to the occasion this time of year, but the Bulldogs have been in a bit of a funk lately. Their win against Longwood triggered a seven game win streak, but since then the Bulldogs have lost five of their last six games with their only win coming against Presbyterian. UNCA is still a two-headed monster lead by Big South 1st-Teamer Jeremy Atkinson, who finished the season averaging nearly 18 points and 7 rebounds per game. Keith Hornsby is the other primary scorer for the Bulldogs and finished the season averaging 15 points per game, although he has been a bit hobbled lately. Lastly, Will Weeks has developed into a nice player and made the All-Freshman team averaging 9 points and 5 rebounds per game this year.
For the Lancers to win they are going to have to get Tristan Carey heated up. He has struggled the past two games, but showed signs of life in the second half versus VMI. Perhaps UNCA will key in on David Robinson after the first game, leaving Carey open for more opportunities? Longwood’s biggest advantage has to be inside with Michael Kessens and Jeylani Dublin. Asheville is a smaller team and Kessens could have another dominant performance in the paint.
On defense Longwood is currently ranked 341st in the country and has given up an average of 91 points per game in their last four contest. The Lancers will need to buckle down and play some defense if they want to beat the Bulldogs. To pull off a win they will likely have to keep the game in the 60s or 70s like the first match up, a tall task for Mike Gillian’s squad.
This game is set for a 2PM tip after the shuffling of the tournament schedule. The game can be watched on the Big South Network and 92.9′s website will have the radio feed, as always.