GAME NOTES: A pair of teams seeking their first win in Southern Conference play get together on Tuesday night at Benjamin Johnson Arena, as the Wofford Terriers entertain the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Wofford, which spent the majority of the non-conference slate on the road, is a perfect 3-0 at home thus far in 2012-13. The team is back in Spartanburg for the first time in more than a month, last competing in front of a friendly crowd on Dec. 5 in a 54-42 win over Gardner-Webb. The Terriers recently closed out a five-game road trip with a 62-48 setback against Tulane last Friday night. The loss was the second in a row for the program.
As for the Mountaineers, their early schedule had been dreadful up until the middle of December. In fact, until taking out Kansas City in an 81-71 decision on Dec. 16, ASU had only one victory to its credit, an 86-54 romp over Montreat College in the season opener.
Appalachian State has been out of action since Dec. 30 when it posted a 71-51 win over Milligan, marking the team's second victory in a row and the third in four tries, which is rather impressive given that the squad was just 1-7 prior to that late, calendar year run.
The Mountaineers own a 22-15 advantage in the all-time series, although Wofford has won five straight meetings and six of the last seven. The most recent encounter was a narrow 66-64 victory for the Terriers at home last season. The last win for Appalachian State was another close call, a 77-76 final on the road back in 2009-10.
Against Milligan, a small NAIA school from the Appalachian Athletic Conference, the Mountaineers built a lead as great as 22 points even as they shot a disappointing 38.4 percent from the floor, 5-of-20 beyond the arc and 10-of-22 at the free-throw line. Nathan Healy ruled the painted area for the hosts as he posted 17 points and 15 rebounds, not to mention four steals and a couple of blocked shots. Tevin Baskin added 15 points, followed by Jay Canty and Tab Hamilton with 10 points apiece. Scoring a respectable 72.6 ppg, but giving up 74.2 ppg, the Mountaineers look to Canty for guidance as he generates 16.3 ppg and is also tops with 34 assists and second on the glass with 6.4 rpg. Healy checks in with 13.3 ppg and 6.8 rpg, followed by Hamilton and his 11.1 ppg, but the latter is shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor over 12 starts.
Wofford was tied with the Green Wave at the break last week, 27-27, but in the second half the Terriers lost their way at both ends of the floor, getting outscored by 14 points in the road loss. Lee Skinner tried to keep the visitors in the mix with his 14 points and 11 rebounds, but he was also guilty of five of the unit's 19 turnovers as well. Karl Cochran checked in with another 16 points and tallied four steals, but his 6-of-20 shooting performance was the main reason why Wofford finished just 17-of-48 from the floor as a group. Cochran remains the team's top scorer with 16.1 ppg and is also first with 34 steals, but while he is shooting a respectable 33.9 percent from 3-point range, his overall 36.6 percent accuracy from the floor is less than optimal. In fact, because of Cochran, the team is making just 38.6 percent from the field, compared to 42.7 percent for the competition.
Both of these teams have their issues, but at the very least, the Terriers have shown from time to time that they can dictate the pace of games and that should benefit them here.
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