HPU MBB Rings in New Year vs. Radford Thursday

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team returns to Big South play Thursday with an important New Year’s Eve tilt vs. Radford (8-6, 1-1) inside the Millis Center.

Tip-off between the Panthers and Highlanders is set for 7 p.m. Thursday’s game will be streamed live on the Big South Network with Evan Lepler providing analysis.

• HPU is 2-0 in Big South play for the first time since 2010-11. With a win vs. Radford, the Panthers would move to 3-0 for the first time since 2006-07 when the team began league play 6-0.

• The Purple & White are 26-2 (.929) in their last 28 home games and have won the last 10 contests inside the Millis Center. The 10-game home streak is second longest in the Big South behind Winthrop (11).

• Last time out, HPU wrapped up non-conference play with a 96-50 win over Methodist on Dec. 28. The Panthers finished non-conference action with a 7-4 record.

• A total of 68 of the Panthers’ 96 points came off the bench, with reserves Tarique Thompson (18), Austin White (15), Andre Fox (15) and Ricky Madison (11) all hitting double figures.

• HPU forced 27 Methodist turnovers, the most caused by the Panthers since a Dec. 16, 2012, contest at Western Michigan.

• Thompson led HPU in points (18) and rebounds (6) vs. Methodist. He is averaging 15.5 points and shooting 62.5 percent over the past two contests.

• HPU is shooting 82.5 percent (99-120) from the free throw line over the past five games.

• Senior Lorenzo Cugini ranks second in the country in 3-point field goal percentage (.596). The Stow, Ohio, native also is also ninth amongst all active players nationally in career 3-point field goal percentage (.434).

• In the game vs. Methodist, redshirt-senior John Brown became HPU’s all-time Div. I leader in games started (101) and steals (155).

Redshirt-senior John Brown has excelled in games against Radford during his HPU career. If you take out the Feb. 27, 2013 game in which Brown broke his foot in the first two minutes vs. the Highlanders, he is averaging 23.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and shooting 55.3 percent (47-85) in five games against Radford. He has posted at least 21 points in all five games and posted a career-best 34 points to go along with 12 rebounds in a Feb. 15, 2014 victory in Virginia.

Seniors John Brown (1,923) and Adam Weary (1,011) are two members of HPU’s 31-player 1,000-point club (7 in the DI era). Fellow senior Lorenzo Cugini needs 115 points to join his classmates in the prestigious fraternity. Evansville is the only Div. I team that currently features both a 2,000-point scorer (D.J. Balentine) and a 1,000-point scorer (Egidijus Mockevicius), but HPU will soon join that mix. In addition, once Cugini hits the 1,000-point milestone, it will mark the first time in HPU’s Div. I era that the Panthers have featured three 1,000-point scorers.

Since the start of the 2012-13 season, HPU leads the Big South in conference wins (39), conference winning percentage (39-13, .750) and is the only school to make three straight post-season appearances. The Panthers are the first team since Winthrop (2004-07) under Gregg Marshall to win three consecutive Big South regular season championships. High Point also is one of just six programs nationally to have won three straight regular season conference titles. The others are Gonzaga (WCC), Kansas (Big 12), Davidson (SoCon/A10), Stephen F. Austin (Southland) and Harvard (Ivy).

Radford was picked to finish fourth in the 2015-16 Big South preseason poll. The Highlanders turned heads in the non-conference season with marquee wins at Georgetown (82-80) in double overtime on Nov. 14 and at Penn State (86-74) on Nov. 24. Radford split its first two league games, winning at home vs. Liberty (56-52) on Dec. 3 and falling at Coastal Carolina, 63-58, on Dec. 6. The Highlanders crash the glass well and rank 21st in the nation in offensive rebounds/game (14.4). RU also is eighth nationally in 3pt FG percentage defense (.274). The Highlanders are paced by senior guard Rashun Davis, who leads the team in scoring (14.1 ppg) and ranks second in the Big South in assists (4.6 apg). Senior guard Cameron Jones chips in 12.4 points per game, while freshman forward Ed Polite Jr. grabs a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game and adds 9.9 points per contest.

Thursday’s matchup will mark the 41st all-time meeting between the Panthers and Highlanders. Radford holds a 23-17 edge in the all-time series and has won five of the past six meetings with High Point. The teams first met on Jan. 15, 1980, with HPU earning a 59-40 victory in Millis. The Highlanders swept both meetings in 2014-15, including a 73-66 win in Virginia (1/22/15) and 67-64 triumph in the Millis Center (2/3/15).

High Point hits the road for a Big South clash with Charleston Southern (5-8, 1-1) on Saturday (Jan. 2). The two teams will ring in the New Year at 5:30 p.m. inside the Buc Dome.