HPU Men’s Basketball Opens Big South Play Wednesday vs. Longwood

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team (4-2) opens Big South play Wednesday with a home contest against Longwood inside the Millis Center.

Wednesday’s game will be streamed live on the Big South Network. Sean Hamilton (play-by-play) and Collin Giuliani (color commentary) have the call. In addition, the game will air live on the High Point Panthers Radio Network, with Evan Lepler and Stafford Stephenson providing analysis. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. (EST), with the post-game show immediately following the contest vs. the Lancers.

• HPU is 10-6 all-time in Big South openers (3-3 under head coach Scott Cherry).
• The Panthers are 22-2 (.917) in their last 24 home games and have won the last seven contests inside the Millis Center. High Point has posted a 25-5 (.833) record at home since the start of the 2013-14 season, including a 14-3 mark (.824) in league play.
• Last time out, HPU earned an 82-72 victory over Morgan State inside the Millis Center on Saturday (Nov. 28). High Point led for the entire second half en route to victory.
• High Point shot 55.9 percent (33-59), the team’s best field goal mark in four games. The Panthers shot 65.4 percent (17-26) in the second half.
• Redshirt-senior forward John Brown poured in a season-high 30 points (10-14 FG, 10-12 FT) to go along with nine rebounds, five blocks, three assists, three steals and 0 turnovers against Morgan State. With the extraordinary effort, Brown reached the 30-point plateau for the fifth time in an HPU uniform and moved his career points total to 1,800.
• With the victory over Morgan State, head coach Scott Cherry became the third coach in the program’s 88-year history to post 100 career wins, joining Jerry Steele (457-412) and Virgil Yow (323-198).

High Point has made a concerted effort to work the ball inside this season. Although HPU is shooting over 33 percent from deep, the Panthers rank 334th out of 351 Div. I teams in 3-point field goals attempted. On the flip side, High Point has posted at least 40 points in the paint in 4-of-6 games (HPU owns a 4-0 record in those contests). An impressive 54.5 percent (242-444) of the team’s total points have come in the paint this season.

Redshirt-senior forward John Brown ranks 31st nationally in total blocks (15) and 29th in blocks per game (2.5) this season. He has posted at least five blocks in two games and tied a career best with six against North Carolina Wesleyan on Nov. 15.

Longwood was picked to finish sixth in the 2015-16 Big South preseason poll. The Lancers are 3-4 so far this season, with home victories over Randolph (69-49), La Roche (89-65) and a road win (70-69) against a good Columbia team. LWU dropped neutral site contests to South Carolina State (77-83) and Ball State (67-78) and lost at Eastern Kentucky (97-110) and Maine (82-92). The Lancers lead the Big South in 3-point field goal percentage (.387), free throw percentage (.792), assists/game (16.3) and assist/turnover ratio (1.33). LWU also is fifth nationally in free throw percentage. The Lancers are led by sophomore guard Kanayo Obi-Rapu, who is averaging 16.1 points and shooting 51 percent (26-51) from 3-point range. Preseason All-Big South second team selection Lotanna Nwogbo is chipping in 15.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest. Senior guard Leron Fisher (14.0 ppg) is averaging a team-best 5.2 assists/game in four contests this season.

HPU and Longwood will meet for the 25th time on Wednesday. HPU has won 18 of the 24 matchups, including 11 of the last 13. The Panthers’ .750 winning percentage against the Lancers is its best vs. any of the current members of the Big South Conference. The teams first met on Dec. 1, 1984, with HPU picking up a 66-63 win in Farmville. In the most recent showdown, High Point defeated Longwood, 72-67, on Jan. 19 last season in the Millis Center. Lorenzo Cugini (15), Adam Weary (15) and John Brown (14) all posted at least 10 points in the victory.

Over the past three seasons, HPU leads the Big South in conference wins (37), conference winning percentage (.740, 37-13) and was the only school to make three straight post-season appearances (2015 CIT, 2014 NIT, 2013 CIT). HPU also is one of just 37 programs in the country to post a conference winning percentage of .740 or better over the three seasons. That list of schools includes Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, Gonzaga and Wichita State.

HPU hits the road for its Big South road opener at Gardner-Webb on Dec. 5 (7 p.m.). The game will air on the Big South Network, with coverage on the High Point Panthers Radio Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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).