Men's Basketball returns home Thursday to face Charleston Southern in key Big South contest
BUIES CREEK, N.C. – After playing 4 of its last 5 games on the road, Campbell (14-10, 8-4) returns to Gilbert Craig Gore Arena Thursday to face Charleston Southern (14-7, 8-3) in a 7:00 p.m. start. The Bucs enter the contest in 3rd place in the Big South standings, one-half game ahead of the Camels.
Campbell saw its 4-game win streak halted last week with losses at Gardner-Webb and UNC Asheville. On Saturday, Lorne Merthie hit 6-of-10 threes and scored a season-high 22 points, but leaguae-leading UNCA made 33-36 free throws. Eric Griffin added 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Trey Freeman chipped in 13 points.
Charleston Southern has won its last 4 games, most recently a 75-64 decision last Saturday at Presbyterian. Saah Nimley led a balanced CSU attack with 16 points, while Kelvin Martin (14), Mathiang Muo (14) and Arlon Harper (13) hit double figures.
Campbell leads all Big South schools in overall (1871) and league game (2020) home attendance. Three of the top five attended games in Gore Arena history have come during the 2011-12 campaign.
CU stands 2nd in the nation in field goal percentage (.502) behind only Creighton (.514).
Charleston Southern ranks 13th in the nation in scoring (79.8), 19th in 3-point field goals per game (8.4) and 21st in 3-point FG% (.395).
On Jan. 5, the Buccaneers dealt Campbell a 91-73 setback in Charleston. Kelvin Martin scored 23 points and 10-12 shooting. Eric Griffin led CU with 23 points and 11 boards.
Junior wing Darren White has scored at least 20 points 10 times this year, including a 22-point outing last Thursday at Gardner-Webb. He ranks 3rd among Big South scoring (18.2) and blocks (1.38) leaders, 4th in FG% (.544).
Senior forward Eric Griffin has produced 4 double-doubles in the last 5 games. He leads the league (and ranks 7th in the country in FG% (.624) and blocked shots (2.3), while standing 2nd in rebounds (8.8) and 7th in scoring (16.9).
Senior guard Lorne Merthie hit a season-high 22 points (6-10 threes) at Asheville. Over the last 5 games, he is averaging 15.2 points and hitting 51.4 percent (19-37) from 3-point distance. Merthie enters Thursday's game just 16 points shy of becoming the 25th player in Campbell history to reach 1,000 for his career.
Point guard Trey Freeman returned to action with 13 points and 4 assists at UNCA after missing 3 games with a concussion. He ranks 14th among the nation's freshman scoring leaders (14.5).
Campbell and Charleston Southern have squared off twice in Big South Conference Tournament championship games. The Buccaneers scored a 64-63 win in the 1987 title contest at Savannah, Ga. Campbell defeated CSU 67-53 in the 1992 final at Anderson, S.C., en route to the Camels' first NCAA berth.
Charleston Southern's Field House holds the distinction of being the smallest capacity home court in the Division I ranks. Campbell's old venue -- Carter Gym -- was the country's most intimate men's basketball setting (947 seats) before CSU reconfigured its building. CU moved into the 3,095-seat Gore Arena before the 2008-09 season.
CSU's starting lineup includes just one member -- 2011 Big South defensive player of the year Kelvin Martin -- that was with the program a year ago. Junior forward Mathiang Muo is a transfer from Central Florida CC, while freshmen Arlon Harper, Saah Nimley and Cedrick Bowen were all playing high school ball in the metro Atlanta area a year ago.
Thursday's game features the top 3 scoring freshmen in the Big South. CSU guard Saah Nimley (14.7) stands 13th among Big South scoring leaders, followed by Campbell's Trey Freeman (14th, 15.4) and Buc guard Arlon Harper (18th, 12.9).
Charleston Southern has won 8 of its last 11 games.
Campbell continues its two-game home stand on Saturday in a 3:30 p.m. start against Presbyterian.