Campbell returns home to face Coastal Carolina Monday in key Big South matchup

Lorne Merthie
(photo by Will Bratton)
Lorne Merthie (photo by Will Bratton)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Following a 5-game road stretch, Campbell returns to the friendly surroundings of Gore Arena Monday in a 7:45 p.m. start against Coastal Carolina.  The contest is the second half of a Big South doubleheader.  At 5:15 p.m., the Lady Camels take on UNC Asheville.

All Campbell men's basketball 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 also available on-line at

Campbell (8-6, 2-0 Big South) has dropped its last 5 outings, but the last 3 have been decided by a total of 11 points.  Coastal (10-3, 3-0) snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday with a 55-52 win at High Point as Chris Gradnigo came off the bench to score 19 points.

The Camels are coming off an 87-81 loss Thursday at NC State.  Darren White scored 25 points (9-11 field goals), while Trey Freeman added 15, plus 7 assists, 3 steals and 0 turnovers.  Lorne Merthie (4-6 threes) chipped in a season-high 15 off the bench and Eric Griffin contributed 14, plus 5 blocks.

Griffin and White were named to the December Big South all-conference team along with Coastal's Anthony Raffa (18.1 ppg, 4th in Big South), Nick Barbour (High Point) and Al'Lonzo Coleman (Presbyterian).

Campbell (Iowa) and Coastal (LSU and Clemson) have both notched wins over BCS Conference teams this year.  CU and CCU are two of four Big South teams who enter the new year with unblemished conference marks along with Charleston Southern (3-0) and UNC Asheville (2-0).

Camels and Chanticleers Quick Notes:

Campbell is ranked 3rd nationally in team field goal percentage (.515) and 22nd in points scored per game (79.4).

Campbell stands 6-0 at home this season, while Coastal is 3-2 away from cozy Kimbel Arena.

Coach Cliff Ellis is in his 5th year at Coastal and 36th on the collegiate level.  Campbell head coach Robbie Laing served as an assistant on Ellis' staff at both Clemson (1993-94) and Auburn (1994-96).

Campbell junior wing Darren White leads the Big South Conference and ranks 9th in the country in scoring (21.1).  He has topped the 20-point barrier 7 times through 14 games.

Senior forward Eric Griffin leads the Big South in field goal accuracy (.638) and blocks (2.46), while ranking 3rd in rebounds (8.8) and 5th in scoring (17.6).

Freshman point guard Trey Freeman tops Big South freshmen in scoring (16.0), FG% (.474), FT% (.855) and assists (4.43).  He ranks 5th among the nation's top frosh leaders in points per game.

Coastal Carolina leads the Big South in scoring defense (62.6), defensive field goal % (.396), scoring margin (+13.3) and rebounding margin (+11.0).

In Saturday's 55-52 win at High Point, Coastal held the Panthers (who entered the game averaging 8.8 threes per outing) to just 1-of-12 shooting from 3-point distance on the night and only 19 first-half points.

Campbell owns a 19-14 edge in the all-time series with Coastal Carolina, which began in 1975 when both schools were members of the NAIA.  CU stands 11-3 all-time against the Chants in Buies Creek, but the teams have not played on CU's home floor since an 83-63 Camel triumph on Nov. 16, 2006, two seasons before the Camels moved into the 3,095-seat Gore Arena.

The Camels and Chanticleers played nine times while CU was a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference (1994-2011) with Campbell winning five, including all four at old Carter Gym.

Coastal Carolina won the 2011 Big South regular season title with 16-2 record and was picked 2nd in this year's pre-season poll.

Junior Anthony Raffa leads Coastal in scoring at 18.1 points per game (4th in the Big South), while leading the Big South in steals (2.46). Senior Chris Gradnigo is 11th in scoring (15.4) and 4th in free throw percentage (.810).  Junior forward Sam McLaurin stands 4th among league leaders in rebounding (8.4), 1st in offensive boards (3.77).

Campbell and Coastal have faced four common opponents this year.  Both teams defeated Methodist, Liberty and High Point.  Campbell downed East Carolina (76-74 Nov. 14 in Buies Creek), while the Chanticleers lost 76-51 at ECU on Dec. 19.

Following Monday's contest, Campbell hits the road in Big South play for the first time Thursday at Charleston Southern (7:30).