HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team has released its 2015-16 non-conference schedule, which includes six home games and a marquee road contest at NC State.
Three of HPU’s opponents won 20 or more games and qualified for post-season play in 2014-15. The schedule includes games at NC State, Texas Tech and Georgia, as well as home tilts against in-state foes UNCG and Western Carolina.
“We’ve set up an extremely competitive schedule,” head coach Scott Cherry said. “The strength of schedule should be strong. We’re playing two Colonial and two Southern Conference teams that are very good, as well as teams from the ACC, SEC and Big 12. With a good team coming back this year, we’ll be tested heading into the conference schedule.”
The Panthers open the 2015-16 season against a very familiar face for fans of the Purple & White. HPU will head to Lubbock, Texas, to take on former HPU standout Tubby Smith’s Texas Tech Red Raiders on Nov. 13. Smith, a 1973 High Point graduate, is in his third season at the helm of the TTU program.
It marks the fourth time in program history that HPU has battled a Smith-led squad. HPU played at Kentucky twice during Smith’s tenure and battled Minnesota during the 2008-09 campaign.
“We really enjoy getting our former players involved and Coach Smith has been an incredible ambassador for our program,” Cherry said. “He’s had a fantastic career in coaching. We’re excited he’s given us this opportunity to play at Texas Tech. He’s been very generous to our program and this athletic department. Our players are excited about the game and it’s a great way to begin the season.”
From there, HPU makes its Millis Center debut on Nov. 15 against the Battling Bishops of North Carolina Wesleyan. The contest marks the first ever meeting between HPU and NC Wesleyan.
HPU then hits the road to face off with CAA foe Drexel on Nov. 18 in Philadelphia, Pa. It marks High Point’s first ever meeting against one of Philadelphia’s six storied Division I basketball programs.
After taking on the Dragons, the Purple & White host Western Carolina in the Millis Center on Nov. 21. It will mark the 62nd all-time meeting between the old Carolinas Conference rivals. HPU holds a 39-22 advantage in the series, including a 2-0 mark in the Division I era. The teams played 59 times from 1934-70.
The Panthers face one of the toughest tests of the season the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25), when HPU heads to Athens, Ga., to take on SEC foe Georgia. The Bulldogs return three of their top five scorers from a 2014-15 team that posted a 21-12 record and lost to Final Four bound Michigan State (70-63) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
HPU plays four of its next five games at home after the Georgia tilt, starting with a Nov. 28 game against MEAC foe Morgan State in Millis. HPU then makes a two-game jaunt into conference play, beginning with Longwood at home on Dec. 2.
After playing at Gardner-Webb on Feb. 5, HPU returns to non-conference play with a marquee home matchup against intra-Triad rival UNCG on Dec. 9. HPU won last season’s meeting, 76-68, inside the Greensboro Coliseum.
The game is one of five contests against in-state foes during the non-conference slate.
“There are so many Division I teams in the state of North Carolina – we’re excited to create some local matchups in such a basketball rich state,” Cherry said. “It’s great for our fans. We had an incredible crowd for our home game against UNCG two years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing that type of atmosphere again this season.”
After UNCG, HPU will battle Virginia-Wise in a first-ever matchup between the programs on Dec. 13.
From there, HPU makes the I-40 trek to Raleigh to square off with ACC foe NC State on Dec. 16 inside PNC Arena. In the only other Div. I matchup between the schools, HPU fell to the Wolfpack 69-56, on Nov. 22, 2008, in Raleigh. NC State won 22 games in 2014-15 and reached the Sweet 16 where the Wolfpack fell to Louisville.
HPU’s final non-conference road game pits the Panthers against CAA foe William & Mary on Dec. 21 in Williamsburg, Va. The Panthers and Tribe have developed an excellent non-conference rivalry over the past three years and will continue the series in 2015-16. HPU has won the last two meetings, including a 66-63 victory in the Millis Center last season.
The Panthers wrap up non-conference play on Dec. 28 in the Millis Center against Methodist.
“We were able to secure six home games, and coupled with the conference slate, we were able to reach our goal of 15 home games,” Cherry said. “We did a good job of balancing our home and away games. We don’t want to be on the road for three or four consecutive games if we can help it and we avoided that.”
High Point returns 11 of 15 letter winners from last season’s conference championship team, including three-time all-Big South First Team selection and 2014 AP All-American John Brown. The Panthers bring back 76 percent of their scoring and 76 percent of their rebounding from a year ago.
Non-conference television opportunities will be announced at a later date.
About the Panthers: The High Point University men’s basketball team is coming off a record-breaking 2014-15 season that saw the Panthers set new Div. I program records for wins (23), Big South wins (13), road wins (9) and Big South road wins (6). HPU advanced to the postseason for the third-straight year and earned its first ever postseason win with a victory over UMES in the CIT. HPU is the winningest Big South program over the past three years and is one of just six schools nationally to have won a regular season conference title in each of the past three campaigns (Gonzaga, Kansas, Stephen F. Austin, Davidson, Harvard).