HPU MBB Heads South For Saturday Showdown At Winthrop

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team (9-4, 0-1) hits the road for the first time in Big South play to take on Winthrop (6-6, 1-0) on Saturday afternoon in Rock Hill, S.C.

Tip-off inside the Winthrop Coliseum is set for 1 p.m. Saturday’s game will air live on the Big South Network. The game also will be broadcast on the High Point Panthers Radio Network featuring “Voice of the Panthers” Evan Lepler. Pre-game radio coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.

The Panthers are 12-3 in their past 15 Big South conference games and HPU has won four of its past five league road games.

The Purple & White have posted a 5-3 record in road and neutral site contests so far in 2014-15. HPU earned three non-conference road victories for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

Last time out, HPU fell in its Big South opener to Coastal Carolina, 83-68, on New Year’s Eve inside the Millis Center. The Chanticleers hit five of their first six 3-point attempts and never looked back, building a 13-point lead (25-12) 10 minutes into the game. HPU could not cut it to less than nine (45-36) for the remainder of the game.

Juniors Lorenzo Cugini and Adam Weary each posted 16 points to lead the Panthers. Cugini made 6-of-9 field goal attempts (3-5 3pt FG), while Weary added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Cugini is averaging 15.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg and shooting 61.1 percent from the floor over the Panthers’ last two games. Weary has posted an average of 13.0 ppg, 3.3 apg and 3.0 rpg over the Panthers’ last four contests.

Winthrop was picked to finish fourth in the Big South in the league’s preseason poll. The Eagles posted a 5-6 non-conference record, highlighted by a 77-74 win at Clemson on Nov. 17. Winthrop opened Big South play with an 82-72 overtime victory over Longwood on Dec. 31. WU is led by preseason all-conference second team selection Keon Moore, who ranks fourth in the league with 17.6 ppg and is sixth in field goal percentage (.441). Freshman forward Xavier Cooks leads the team in rebounding (6.0 rpg) and blocks (1.9 bpg) while senior point guard Andre Smith paces the team in assists (5.0 apg) and is second in scoring (10.8 ppg).

Saturday’s matchup with Winthrop will mark the 36th all-time meeting between the Panthers and Eagles. Winthrop holds a 25-10 advantage in the all-time series. Winthrop won 20 of the first 21 meetings between the teams, but HPU has won eight of the past 11 matchups. The Panthers are 3-14 all-time at the Winthrop Coliseum but have won the last two meetings in Rock Hill. The teams first met on Jan. 16, 1999, with Winthrop winning, 74-66. Last season, the two games between the teams were decided by a combined three points. HPU won 65-64 in High Point on Feb. 1 and fell to Winthrop, 62-60, on March 7 in the quarterfinals of the Big South Tournament.

Although HPU plays three of its first four conference games at home, the Panthers will face some of the league’s projected top teams to kick off the league campaign. After Wednesday’s game vs. CCU, HPU will now play at No. 4 pick Winthrop on Saturday, before heading home to face off with No. 5 Charleston Southern on Jan. 8. The Panthers also will play at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 14. The Runnin’ Bulldogs have already taken down Power 5 foes Purdue and Clemson this season.

HPU returns home to battle Charleston Southern on Thursday, Dec. 8 inside the Millis Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., with pre-game coverage on the High Point Panthers Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.