Elon Men’s Basketball Opens SoCon Action at Western Carolina

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team opens Southern Conference play on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 4, with a trip to the mountains of Cullowhee, N.C., to face the Western Carolina Catamounts. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Ramsey Center. Listen to the game live on WPCM 95.1 FM/920 AM with Taylor Durham and Jason Vonick on the coverage.

ELON VS. WESTERN CAROLINA: Saturday marks the 94th all-time meeting between the Phoenix and Catamounts. Elon leads the series 54-39 after sweeping both games versus WCU last season. Saturday is the 23rd meeting between the two schools since Elon joined the Southern Conference. The Phoenix is 10-12 against the Catamounts as a member of the SoCon. Elon has won the last two games versus Western at the Ramsey Center, including last year’s 80-67 win in which the Phoenix went on a 21-7 run in the second session to go ahead by as many as 14 points late in the game. Lucas Troutman went for 20 points and 10 boards in the win.

LAST MEETING: The Phoenix and Catamounts last met on Feb. 16, 2013, inside Alumni Gym, as Elon held off WCU in overtime for an 80-73 win. The Catamounts rallied from 12 points down to take a three-point lead with 2:11 remaining in regulation after Tom Tankelewicz connected on his seventh triple of the game to give WCU a 64-61 edge. But Elon responded down the stretch and tied it at 64-all with 24.6 seconds left after a pair of Jack Isenbarger free throws. WCU’s Trey Sumler had a chance to win it for Western at the end of regulation, but Tanner Samson had a good contest on his jumper inside the paint near the free-throw line to force overtime. Samson hit the proverbial dagger for the Phoenix with 1:24 to play in overtime, as his trey near the top of the key put the Phoenix ahead, 73-69. Elon outscored Western Carolina, 16-9, in the extra session.

ELON IN SOCON PLAY: The Phoenix is in its 11th season as a member of the Southern Conference. Elon is 82-93 (including tournament action) against current members of the Southern Conference since the 2003-04 campaign. Elon went 13-5 against league foes during the regular season last year, winning the SoCon North Division title. Matt Matheny has a 34-38 record in SoCon play.

LOOKING BACK: The seventh-ranked Duke Blue Devils put five in double figures to hand Elon an 86-48 setback on New Year’s Eve at the Greensboro Coliseum. Nationally ranked Duke stifled the Phoenix defensively, forcing Elon into a season-high 22 turnovers in the setback. Elon shot a season low 35 percent from the field and hit just 5-of-21 from long distance. Elon’s 48 points are the lowest in a game since scoring 45 versus Davidson on Feb. 23, 2012.

FROM LONG RANGE: Elon currently leads the Southern Conference in three-point field goal percentage at 41.3 percent and threes made with 130. Tanner Samson (46) and Sebastian Koch (41) rank first and second in the league in threes made. Samson ranks second in the SoCon in three-point field goal percentage.

KOCH HONORED: Sebastian Koch scored a career-high 27 points at 21st-ranked Colorado on Dec. 13, and was named the Southern Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 17. Koch’s nine triples are the most in a single game during Elon’s Division I era. His 27 points mark the most by an Elon player since Jack Isenbarger’s 34-point performance against The Citadel on Feb. 4, 2012.

SAMSON HONORED: Tanner Samson was named the Southern Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 10 after scoring a career-high 23 points in an 87-70 win over VMI on Dec. 3. Samson connected on 5-of-8 from three-point land in the win and was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. He added a career-best nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in 36 minutes against the Keydets.

MILESTONE WATCH: Both Sebastian Koch (936 points) and Ryley Beaumont (905 points) are in line to be the next Elon players to reach 1,000 career points. Elon currently has two players with over 1,000 career points in Lucas Troutman (1,349) and Jack Isenbarger (1,256). Troutman ranks 15th all-time and needs 33 points to pass Thomas Moore (1972-75) for 14th all-time. Isenbarger ranks 18th all-time in career points after recently passing Chris Long and Tom McGee. Isenbarger needs four points to pass Drew Spradlin for 17th all-time.

BLOCK PARTY: With two blocked shots against seventh-ranked Duke on Dec. 31, Lucas Troutman extended his program-best career mark to 180 blocks. Troutman set Elon’s all-time blocks record last season and is five blocks shy of passing VMI’s Eric Mann (1997-01) for 10th all-time in Southern Conference history. Troutman is the league’s active leader in career blocks.

TRACKING THE THREES: Jack Isenbarger enters Saturday’s game with 229 career three-pointers made, which ranks second all-time in Elon history behind Chris Kiger’s (1994-98) career mark of 259. Isenbarger is the Southern Conference’s active leader in career triples.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Lucas Troutman has scored in double figures in nine of Elon’s last 11 games this season and in 38 of the team’s last 45 games. Troutman has scored 20 or more points in eight of those contests.

HOME COOKING: Over the last three years, Elon has a 27-8 record inside the friendly confines of Alumni Gym. Elon has sold out Alumni Gym nine times under head coach Matt Matheny, with its last sellout coming on Nov. 8, 2013, on opening night when the Phoenix topped Washington & Lee. Elon is 5-1 at home for the third straight season and has won 12-of-14 inside Alumni Gym.

HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: Matt Matheny is in his fifth season as the Elon head men’s basketball coach. The 2013 Southern Conference Coach of the Year by the media, Matheny enters Saturday’s game with an overall record of 66-75. Matheny was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham Award last season, which honors the nation’s top mid-major coach.