Campbell breaks into Top-25 of Mid-Major poll

Rico Ferguson
(photo by Will Bratton)
Rico Ferguson (photo by Will Bratton) Mid-Major Top 25

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – For the first time in the program's history, Campbell University is ranked in the Mid-Major Top-25 men's basketball poll.

Off to the team's best start (8-1) in the school's Division I era (since 1977-78), Campbell is rated 25th in the Dec. 12 poll, which is selected by a 31-member voting panel of mid-major head coaches.

With 64 points in this week's poll, Campbell is 15 points behind 24th-place Loyola (Md.) and two in front of Valparaiso heading into Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. (CST) tip-off at Houston Baptist.

"It's great to be recognized on a national scale for the start we've had, and I hope this will spring board us to a very good year," said ninth-year Camel head coach Robbie Laing.  "We acknowledge this, feel good about it, but now we need to get back to the grindstone and figure out how to win games on the road, which is what you have to do if you want to have a really special year."

Campbell's only loss of the year came Nov. 25 at nationally-ranked Creighton, which tops the Mid-Major poll for the second-straight week.

Campbell is the lone Big South Conference member ranked in this week's poll.  Coastal Carolina received 31 points (29th). 

For the last 13 years, the poll has ranked schools from the traditional "mid-major" conferences -- America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast.

Among Campbell November wins was a 76-74 triumph over Conference USA member East Carolina at Gore Arena.  Campbell also scored the program's first-ever victory over a Big Ten member, a 77-61 decision on Nov. 23 at Iowa.

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

Wednesday's game at Houston Baptist (3-6) is the first of five-straight road contests for the Camels.  CU plays Saturday at Virginia Tech (4:00) and next Monday (Dec. 19) at UNC Wilmington before travelling to Appalachian State (Dec. 22).

Following the Christmas holiday, the Camels take on NC State (Dec. 29) at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh before returning to Big South action at home Jan. 2 vs. Coastal Carolina.

With eight victories in its first nine games, Campbell is off to the program's best start since joining NCAA Division I in 1977-78.  The 1975-76 squad opened the year with 13-straight victories while Campbell was a member of the NAIA.

Entering this week's action, only 19 other schools among 345 Division I members had a better winning percentage than the Camels (.889).  Campbell leads the nation in team field goal percentage (.535), stands 3rd in 3-point accuracy (.451), 5th in assists (18.9), 7th in scoring (84.0) and 16th in blocks (6.2).

Campbell leads all Big South Conference schools in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, free throw accuracy (.745, 27th in the nation), assists and blocks.

Individually, senior forward Eric Griffin (Orlando, Fla.) ranks fifth in the country in field goal shooting (.681) and 32nd in blocked shots (2.5).  Among Big South leaders he ranks first in field goal percentage and blocks (2.5), 2nd in rebounds (8.5) and 5th in scoring (17.8).

Junior wing Darren White (Danville, Va.) leads the Big South and ranks 10th in the nation in scoring (21.6).  He stands 5th among Big South field goal percentage leaders (.558), second in blocks (1.78), 12th in free throw accuracy (.717) and 17th in rebounds (6.1).  He tied his career-high and Gore Arena-record with 33 points in Saturday's 103-55 win over Methodist.

Point guard Trey Freeman (Virginia Beach, Va.) tops the Big South and stands 13th in the nation in free throw percentage (.926).  He leads all league freshmen in scoring (16.9, 7th overall), assists (4.5, 2nd overall), field goal percentage (.449, 11th overall) and minutes played (34.3, 2nd overall).

Sophomore guard Rico Ferguson (Richmond, Va.) is averaging 9.8 points per game and ranks 4th among Big South leaders in assists (4.3) and steals (2.0), while standing 11th in free throw shooting (.740).

In the season opener for both teams on Nov. 11, Freeman and Griffin combined for 43 points to lead Campbell to an 82-68 win over Houston Baptist at Gore Arena.  In his collegiate debut, Freeman made 7-of-12 from the floor and all 8 of his free throw attempts to lead all scorers with 22 points – 14 in the second half. 

Griffin made 8-of-9 shots, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range and finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds for the Camels, who shot a Gore Arena record 60.9 percent from the floor and knocked down 24-of-31 (.774) from the foul line.

White added 11 points for the Camels, who won their season opener for the fifth time in the last six years.

Freshman Dustin Hobaugh and Cleveland State transfer Joe Latas led Houston Baptist with 17 points each.  Ronald March chipped in 11, nine in the first half for the Huskies, who shot just 36 percent from the field.

Houston Baptist (3-6) ended a 3-game losing streak on Saturday with a 112-80 victory over Dallas Christian.  Brazilian junior college transfer Art Bernardi (16.3) leads a balanced Huskies attack after sitting out the first six games according to an NCAA ruling.  Hobaugh has missed the last four games with a broken hand.

All Campbell games are aired throughout the Sandhills region of North Carolina on WCLN 107.3 FM with Chris Hemeyer on the play-by-play.  Free audio of the broadcast is available on-line at Mid-Major Top 25
(Dec. 12, 2011)
No. School (1st place)    Record    Points     Last          Conference
1.    Creighton (21)             7-1           740           1                Missouri Valley
2.    Murray State (5)          10-0         697           10              Ohio Valley
3.    Harvard (1)                  9-1           693           2                Ivy League
4.    Cleveland State (1)      10-1         625           5                Horizon
5.    Iona                              7-2           593           3                Metro Atlantic
6.    Belmont                        6-2           581           6                Atlantic Sun
7.    Wichita State               7-2           572           7                Missouri Valley
8.    Kent State (1)              7-1           568           8                Mid-American
9.    Gonzaga (1)                5-2           528           4                West Coast
10.  Saint Mary's                 5-1           492           9                West Coast
11.  Northern Iowa (1)        9-1           454           21              Missouri Valley
12.  BYU                             8-2           442           15              West Coast
13.  Weber State                6-2           329           11              Big Sky
14.  UC Santa Barbara       4-2           313           14              Big West
15.  George Mason             7-3           294           12              Colonial Athletic
16.  Indiana State                7-2           261           16              Missouri Valley
17.  College of Charleston  7-1           254           19              Southern
18.  Ohio                             7-1           230           25              Mid-American
19.  Middle Tennessee       9-2           232           17              Sun Belt
20.  VCU                             6-3           226           20              Colonial Athletic
21.  Oakland                       6-4           174           18              Summit
22.  Long Beach State        4-5           161           13              Big West
23.  Denver                         6-2           106           NR             Sun Belt
24.  Loyola (MD)                 8-1           79             NR             Metro Atlantic
25.  Campbell                   8-1           64             NR             Big South

OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES:  Valparaiso 62, Wisconsin Milwaukee 45, Davidson 44, Coastal Carolina 31, Missouri State 25, Robert Morris 24, Lamar 24, Norfolk State 15, Youngstown State 14, South Dakota State 12, Wagner 11, Butler 10, Fairfield 10, Ball State 9, North Dakota State 9, Lehigh 8, Buffalo 5, Drake 5, Elon 3, Oral Roberts 3, Georgia State 2, Akron 1, Columbia 1, Mercer 1, Santa Clara 1, Utah Valley 1, Yale 1.

NOTE: The Mid-Major Poll is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast.