Camels return to action at home Saturday against Methodist in 1 pm tip-off

Andrew Ryan
(photo by Will Bratton)
Andrew Ryan (photo by Will Bratton)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Following a week-long break from competition for final exams, Campbell returns to action on Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. tip-off against Methodist.

Campbell (7-1) faces the lone non-Division I member on its 2011-12 schedule when the Division III Monarchs (3-4) make the short trip from Fayetteville.  CU's 7-1 start is the program's best since joining the Division I ranks in 1977-78 and the school's best since the 1975-76 Camels opened with 13-straight victories.

As a result, the Fighting Camels have climbed into a tie for 30th place in the Mid-Major Top-25 poll.  With 21 points in this week's poll, Campbell (7-1, 2-0) is tied with Akron for 30th place among all vote-getters.  Campbell's only loss of the year came Nov. 25 at nationally-ranked Creighton, which tops the Mid-Major poll listing.

Campbell won its first two Big South Conference games of the year last week at home over Liberty (96-82) and High Point (72-62).             

If the Camels are able to defeat the Monarchs on Saturday, they would break the program (Division I era) record for most wins before Christmas (7), which was set by last year's club.

Entering this week's action, only 22 other schools among 345 Division I members had a better winning percentage than CU (.875).  Campbell was ranked 2nd in the nation in team field goal percentage (.532), 10th in assists (17.9), 19th in blocks (6.1) and 22nd in points per game (81.6). CU leads all Big South Conference schools in field goal shooting, 3-point accuracy (.457), free throw percentage (.739), assists and blocks.

Junior wing Darren White leads the Big South and ranks 26th in the nation in scoring (20.1).  He stands 4th among Big South field goal shooting leaders (.550), 2nd in blocks (1.63) and 13th in rebounds (6.1).

Senior forward Eric Griffin ranks 4th in the country in field goal shooting (.681) and 30th in blocked shots (2.5).  Among Big South leaders he ranks 1st in field goal percentage and blocks (2.5), 2nd in rebounds (8.5) and 5th in scoring (17.8).

Point guard Trey Freeman tops the Big South and stands 21st in the nation in free throw percentage (.918).  He leads all BSC freshmen in scoring (17.0, 7th overall), assists (4.5, 3rd overall), field goal accuracy (.457, 10th overall) and minutes played (35.0, 1st).

Saturday's game is the first meeting between the Camels and Monarchs since the 1995-96 season.  The Camels have won the last nine games between the schools and stand 15-1 against the Monarchs since joining NCAA Division I in 1977-78.

In the 41-game series that first began in Dec. 1963, Campbell has topped the 100-point barrier 9 times against the Monarchs, including a school (Division I era) record 133-point outburst on Dec. 2, 1987 at Carter Gym.

Campbell stands 8-0 against non-Division I members in Coach Robbie Laing's nine seasons as head coach.  CU is the last Big South school to face a "non-one" school this season and squares off against only one team outside the NCAA's highest level this year.  Presbyterian is the only other Big South Conference member to face just one non-Division I team in 2011-12, while Coastal Carolina (4) plays the most.

CU is 5-0 at Gore Arena this season, while Methodist is 1-4 away from its home court.

Methodist is led by guards James Whitehead (20.0 points per game, 15-28 threes) and Mark Jernigan (13.3, 79.4 free throw percentage).

The Monarchs dropped a 104-61 decision Nov. 12 at Big South member Coastal Carolina, in a game that officially counted toward the Chanticleers' record, but is listed as an exhibition for Methodist.  Division II and III schools could not start their regular season before Nov. 14.

Following Saturday's contest, the Camels embark on their longest road stretch of the season, beginning with a Dec. 14 game at Houston Baptist.