HPU rides momentum to UNC Asheville
Even though most of UNC Asheville’s key players are different from last year, High Point University men’s basketball coach Scott Cherry expects the Bulldogs to have a familiar look when the teams meet today.
UNCA, the defending league champion, still has a potent scoring tandem in the backcourt as Keith Hornsby and Trent Meyer have stepped into the void left by the graduation of Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm. Jeremy Atkinson is back as a scoring threat at forward and forward Will Week remains an option at the high or low post.
Atkinson leads the Bulldogs in scoring (16.9 points per game) and rebounds (7.9). Hornsby, son of singer Bruce Hornsby, is next at 14.5 followed by Meyer (10) and Weeks (9.5).
And, the Bulldogs and Panthers are similar statistically. Both are 4-2 in Big Suth play (with HPU tied for second in the North and UNCA second in the South) and are at .500 overall (with HPU 9-9 and UNCA 10-10). Both have been good at home and not so good on the road.
UNCA does have a road win over Big East member St. John’s and lost at N.C. State by two.
“They’re good,” Cherry said. “They are the same as last year. Meyer and Hornsby can get it going at the guard position, and Atkinson and Week give them scoring in the frontcourt. They’ll try to pound it inside and kick it out.
“This will be a big difference from our last two games in which Charleston Southern and VMI spread the floor and shot 3s. This one will be played from the 3-point line in. They’re going to try to dump it down low in the paint. So we’ve got to keep the ball out of there.”
The Panthers will try to duplicate their performance in a 96-69 rout of former North leader VMI. The Panthers moved into a tie for second with the Keydets, just behind leader Campbell.
“That was our most complete game for 40 minutes by far,” Cherry said of beating VMI. “On both ends of the floor that was our best game.
“I think what happened is we were 3-2 and VMI was 4-1 and the guys looked at the standings and saw we could tie for first in the division if Campbell lost, which they didn’t. And they were coming off a disappointing first half in the loss to Charleston Southern and wanted to make up for that. They stuck to our game plan and executed it on both end of the floor.”