Monday, November 30, 2020

WCU Player of the Game (Piedmont)

Purple & Gold's  "Player of the Game" for the Piedmont College game is .....

Today, we have Co-Players of the Game!!!!!!
Sin'Cere McMahon
Matt Halvorsen

Purple & Gold 's  "WCU Co-Players of the Game" are Sin'Cere McMahon Matt Halvorsen 

Freshman guard Sin'Cere McMahon scored a game-high 20 points (tied with Halvorsen) to lead the Catamounts past the Piedmont Lions.  McMahon completed 7 for 11 in field goals and hit 6 of 8 three-point attempts. He pulled down 4 rebounds, had 2 assists, and one steal. McMahon is the first freshman of the season with Player of the Game honors. 
Senior guard Matt Halvorsen joined McMahon with a game-high of 20 points to lead all scoring. Halvorsen hit 5 of 14 of his field-goal attempts, making four three-pointers, and was perfect again at the free-throw line, hitting 6 for 6 at the charity stripe. He pulled down 3 rebounds, had 3 assists, and 2 steals.  During the game, Haverson scored his 1,000th point of his career as a Catamount.  Congratulations. 

Purple & Gold congratulates both Sin'Cere McMahon and Matt Halvorsen on their accomplishments in the Piedmont College Lions game.


SoCon Basketball Power Rankings (11-30-20)

Each week on Monday, we will post our power ranking based on the previous week's games.

Moving into only our second week of play, these rankings are based more on preseason rankings than actual gameplay, but actual games do play in the rankings.  Given that, here's our first of the season, power ranking.

Power ranking - 
6.Western Carolina



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Game 3 - North Carolina

In the Cat's third game of the fall season, Western Carolina travels to Chapel Hill for the third meeting with the Tar Heels in four years.

The Cats dropped the 2018 season's game to the Tar Heels in a 26-49 setback for the Catamounts.  Since that time, the Tar Heels have rehired former head coach, Mack Brown. 

UNC at Chapel Hill

When: Saturday, December 5 (Time -  12 noon)
Where: Kenan Stadium (63,000) - Natural Grass -  Chapel Hill, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
- announcers: Gary Ayers (PxP), Daniel Hooker (Color), Greg McLamb, & Jeff Bryson
TV / Video: ACC Network
- announcers:  Wes Durham, Roddy Jones, & Lericia Harris

The Series: Third meeting on the football field between these two UNC system sister schools, the Cats dropped the last two games to the Tar Heels

Game Notes:   Western Carolina     -    UNC-Chapel Hill

The last game played vs. UNC:  Nov. 17, 2018 -  Adams Hits Milestone in 49-26 Road Loss at North Carolina   Chapel Hill, N.C. – Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams took his head coach Mark Speir's weekly charge to heart on Saturday afternoon in the season-finale at North Carolina – go play until there are zeroes on the clock at Kenan Stadium.

On the final play of regulation, long after the final result of Saturday's game had been determined, Adams scrambled 18 yards and etched his name into the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record books. Adams became just the 10th player in FCS history to throw for over 2,000 yards while also amassing over 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.

Head CoachMack Brown, whose charismatic style and disciplined approach propelled the University of North Carolina to the Top Five and the University of Texas to the 2005 BCS National Championship, began his second stint as head coach in Chapel Hill on Nov. 27, 2018, with the goal of leading another Carolina resurgence.  A 42-year veteran of collegiate coaching, Brown has served as a head coach for 31 seasons with stops at Texas (1998-2013), North Carolina (1988-97, 2019), Tulane (1985-87), and Appalachian State (1983). Over his 31 seasons, Brown has posted a record of 251-128-1 (.662). Those 251 career victories rank ninth on the FBS all-time list and are the most among active coaches. The 2005 Paul W. “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year and the 2008 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year, Brown is one of a handful of coaches in college football history to lead two separate programs to Top-Five national finishes. 

-Mack Brown has faced Western Carolina once in his 32-year head coaching career. At the helm of Appalachian State in 1983, Brown lost 41-15 to the Catamounts in the regular-season finale on Nov. 19 in Cullowhee, N.C.  

Last season's Record (Tar Heels):  7-6 overall, 3-3 home, 2-3 away, 4-4 ACC - The Tar Heels wins came over South Carolina, Miami, Georgia Tech, Duke, Mercer, NC State, Temple 

2020 Record (Tar Heels): 6-3 overall, 4-1 home, 2-2 away, 6-3 ACC - The Tar Heels have wins this season over Syracuse, Boston College, NC State, Duke, & Wake Forest
UNC is second in the ACC to Clemson in scoring offense with 43.1 points per game. That figure is 7th nationally among teams playing at least four games.  Carolina ranks fourth nationally and leads the ACC with 563.4 yards per game of total offense.  UNC is on pace to break a school record of 486.9 yards per game set in 2015.  The Heels are 10th in the country with 233.5 rushing yards per game among FBS teams that have played at least four games.

Carolina has probably the top running back tandem in college football in senior Michael Carter and junior Javonte Williams. Carter and Williams are the only pair of teammates nationally to average more than 100 yards rushing per game. The two have combined to average 209.4 yards on the ground this season. Among ACC backs, Williams leads with 108.5 yards per game, while Carter is 4th with 100.9 yards.

Sam Howell leads the ACC with 23 passing touchdowns (T4th nationally) and 328.9 passing yards per game. Howell has thrown 13 touchdown passes over the last three games, and seven have gone for 20 yards or longer,

2020 UNC Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 2230 yards
Yards per game: 217.2
Yards per rush: 5.4 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 101
TDs rushing: 24
Passing Offense: 2850 yards or 316.67 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 10.29 yards
Passing 1st downs: 118
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 277-187-6
TDs Passing: 24
Total Offense: 4805 yards or 533.9 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 8 - 3
3d Down Conversions: 45.7%
4th Down Conversions: 53.9%
Field goal attempts: 6 - 13
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 35 of 40
Red Zone Touchdowns: 30 of 40
Punts - Yards: 30 - 1244

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SoCon Basketball Monday (11-30-20)

Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 

There are three SoCon games today for your viewing pleasure. More opportunities for the SoCon to improve its standing in RPI and on the national scene. According to the Massey rankings, we should get three wins today. GSU at Mercer should be the highlight of the day's games. 

Piedmont (2-1) at Western Carolina (2-1, 0-0 Home) 
Ramsey Regional Activity Center - Cullowhee, NC 
11:00 AM - ET Watch on ESPN+ 

Georgia State (2-0, 1-0 Away) at Mercer (2-0, 1-0 Home) 
Hawkins Arena - Macon, GA 
7:00 PM ET - Watch on ESPN+ 

Chattanooga (1-0, 0-0 Away) at Tennessee Tech (0-1, 0-0 Home) 
Hooper Eblen Center - Cookeville, TN 
7:00 PM ET - Watch on ESPN+


Sunday, November 29, 2020

SoCon Basketball Sunday (11-29-20)

Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020                                                                                 

Two games are on tap today in the Southern Conference today, as Samford hosts Alabama A&M and UNCG faces off against Big South foe, Winthrop

The A&M Bulldogs visit the Samford Bulldogs in what will be an interesting match up in the Hanna Center. This will be the first DI test of Samford's new "Bucky Ball". Is it for real? This game should give us an idea. Alabama was picked to finish 8th in the SWAC this season. 

In the evening matchup of UNCG and Winthrop, the preseason favorites from the SoCon and Big South face off in what should be a very good game as part of the Louisville Multi-Team Event. These two teams have not played in over 20 years and it's the opening game for the Eagles, while the Spartans have already faced and beaten the Sun Belt favorite earlier in the week. 

Looking for two SoCon wins today.  

3:00 PM ET    Watch on ESPN+ 
Alabama A&M (0-0) at Samford (0-0) 
Pete Hanna Center - Birmingham, AL 

8:30 PM ET    Watch on ESPN3 
Winthrop (0-0) vs. UNCG (1-0) 
KFC Yum! Center - Louisville, KY

Game #4 - Piedmont College

For the fourth game of the season, the Catamounts return home to the Ramsey Center for an unusual Monday morning game. The Piedmont Lions visit the Cat's Den after a trip to the SC low country to play The Citadel. 

Date/Time:  Nov. 30 at 11 am
Where: Ramsey Center, Cullowhee, NC
Radio:  The Catamount Sports Network   
TV/video:  ESPN+
-announcers:  Daniel Hooker, play by play
Nickname:  Lions
Location: Demorest, GA
Colors: Dark Green & Gold
Conference: NCAA Div. III - USA South Atlantic Conference
Students: 2,571
Game NotesWestern Carolina

The Series:  The Catamounts and Lions have met 43 times, with the Catamounts holding a 38-5 record against the Lions. The two teams played yearly until 1972, with the first game played in 1949. The two teams met again a year ago, playing in Cullowhee in 2019. 

Last season's record (Piedmont):  14-12 overall, 9-9 conference, 6-5 home, 6-7 away, 2-0 neutral

This season's record (Piedmont):  2-1 overall, 0-1 home, 2-0 away

The only common opponent this season between the two teams is the Citadel.  The Bulldogs had an 89-64 opening-day victory over Piedmont College last Wednesday afternoon inside McAlister Field House. The Lions trailed by just two points with 9:42 remaining in the contest, but The Citadel used a late run to seal the win. 

Ryan Jolly followed up his career-high 30-point performance at Bob Jones with 14 points against The Citadel and Jake Smith also scored 14 points going 5-of-7 from the field with four 3-pointers. 


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Saturday, November 28, 2020

WCU Player of the Game (Asheville)

Purple & Gold's  "Player of the Game" for the UNC Asheville game 

Matt Halvorsen


The WCU Purple & Gold 's  "WCU Player of the Game" is  Matt Halvorsen
Senior guard Matt Halvorsen lead led the Catamounts to an 83-81 overtime win over the Bulldogs in Asheville.  Halvorsen led all Catamount scoring with 21 points, in a game where four starters scored in double figures. Matt hit 4 of 13 of his field-goal attempts, but was perfect at the free-throw line, hitting 9 for 9 at the charity stripe. He pulled down 3 rebounds, had 2 assists, and 1 steal. 

In the overtime period, Halvorsen came alive in the last minute of the game, knocking down two 3-pointers that gave the Catamounts just enough for the win.

Purple & Gold congratulates Matt Halvorsen on his accomplishments in the Asheville game.


SoCon Basketball Saturday (11-28-20)

Saturday, Nov. 28 

The SoCon has 4 games on Saturday and four more opportunities for basketball success. The Chattanooga vs. N. Kentucky game has been postponed due to Covid 19.  The big game of the day takes place in the afternoon as the Catamounts face the Bulldogs of UNCA on their home court.  Massey projects a 78-72 win by the Catamounts as they rebound from Friday's loss to Troy

1 PM - Watch on BTN 
VMI (1-0) at Penn State (0-0) 
Bryce Jordan Center - University Park, PA 

2:00 PM ET - Watch on ESPN+ 
SC Upstate (0-1) at Furman (1-0) 
Timmons Arena - Greenville, SC 

2:00 PM ET - Watch on ESPN+ 
Carver College at Wofford (1-0) 
Richardson Indoor Stadium - Spartanburg, SC 

4:00 PM ET - Mako Medical Asheville Classic - Watch on ESPN+ 
Western Carolina (1-1) vs. UNCA (0-1) 
Kimmel Arena - Asheville, NC

Friday, November 27, 2020

Game #3 - UNC Asheville

For the third time this season, The Cats return to Kimmel Arena for the third game in 4 days. This time, the game is to close out the Mako Medical Asheville Classic with host UNC Asheville. Both teams come into the contest off losses in the first-round games.

Where: Kimmel Arena, Asheville, NC
Radio: ESPN Asheville
TV/video: WSPA Ch. 7 / ESPN+
-announcers: Pete Yanity (Play by Play), Richmond Weaver (Color Analyst)
Live Stats:  Stats
Nickname:  Bulldogs
Location: Asheville, NC
Colors: Blue & White
Students: 3,765
UNCA Fan Message Board: UNCA Fans

The Series: The Catamounts and Bulldogs meet for the 54th time and the Cats lead the all-time series 31-22.  WCU has won seven of the last 10 meetings. The Cats currently hold a three-game win streak over the Bulldogs and have won 6 of the last 7 games. The series dates all the way back to 1930. UNC Asheville won the first meeting 31-28 on Feb. 3, 1930.

Game Notes:   Western Carolina    -     UNCA   

Last season's record (UNCA):  15-16 overall, 8-10 Big South, 10-5 home, 5-10 away

The UNC Asheville men's basketball team was picked to finish second in the annual Big South Preseason Poll, while DeVon Baker (First Team) and LJ Thorpe (Second Team) picked up preseason recognition. However, normal starters Devon Baker and Coty Jude did not play in the opening contest against UNCW, and are not expected to see action against the Catamounts.   

"The Bulldogs return all five starters from last season and all of those players score over 10.0 PPG. However, UNCA ranked 302d in KenPom’s overall metrics and finished just 15-16 overall, and 8-10 in the Big South. There may not have been a worse interior defensive squad in the country last season than the Bulldogs, which ranked 350th in eFG% and allowed the 2nd highest rate of attempts near the rim.
Mike Morrell starts four guards and a forward who has no interest in banging in the paint – if UNCA doesn’t turn a team over early in the shot clock, that team is usually going to score. For the dogs win games, the offense is going to be what wins, as every player in the starting five can shoot the three and all four guards can score off the bounce. Expect a ball screen-heavy attack once again in the halfcourt and running in transition, particularly off steals.
Defensively, the Bulldogs will extend pressure the length of the floor and look to trap once the ball crosses the timeline. This can result in a lot of buckets going the opposite way, but it’s also susceptible to being burned often by good ball handlers and smart-passing teams."
Key Returners: Devon Baker, LJ Thorpe, Lavar Batts Jr., Tajion Jones, Coty Jude, Trent
Stephney, Jamon Battle

Key Newcomers: Evan Clayborne (NC Central), Silas Mason, BJ Marable, Raquan Brown


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SoCon Basketball Friday (11-27-20)

Friday, Nov. 27 

There are four SoCon games on the schedule today, and with a little luck, the SoCon may pick up four wins.  It's a good day to skip football and watch lots of SoCon basketball.

11:00 AM - Gulf Coast Showcase - Watch on FloHoops 
Middle Tennessee (0-1) vs. ETSU (0-2) 
Hertz Arena - Estero, FL 

1:00 PM - Mako Medical Asheville Classic Watch on ESPN+ 
Troy (0-0) vs. Western Carolina (1-0) 
Kimmel Arena - Asheville, NC 

7:00 PM - Wade Houston Tipoff Classic Watch on ESPN3 
UNCG (0-0) vs. Little Rock (1-0) 
KFC Yum! Center - Louisville, KY 

8 pm - Watch on ACCNX 
Mercer (1-0) at Georgia Tech (0-1)
McCamish Pavilion - Atlanta, GA

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Game #2 - Troy Trojans

The Cats return to Kimmel Arena for the second game in as many days, this time to open the Mako Medical Asheville Classic hosted by UNC Asheville. The Cats face the Troy Trojans in the opening game on Friday at 1 pm then face the host team on Saturday.   

When: Friday, November 27, 2020, at 1:00 pm   
Where: Kimmel Arena, Asheville, NC
Radio:  Trojan Radio - All Access

TV/video:   ESPN+
-announcers: Matt Stradley (Play by Play), John Williams (Color Analyst)
Live StatsStats
Conference:  Sun Belt Conference 
Official Atheltic Site: Troy Trojans
Nickname:  Trojans
Location:   Troy, AL
Mascot:  T-Roy
Colors:   Cardinal, Siver, Black
Students: 18,000
Troy Fan Message BoardTroy Fans

The Series: The Cats and Trojans are tied at 1-1 in the series, last played in 1971, the Cats won that game, 91-80.  The two teams first met in Troy in 1961

Game Notes:   Western Carolina    -     Troy     
Last season, the Trojans were 9-22 and 5-15 in the Sun Belt, and won only 3 games on the road. Troy comes to Asheville riding a 7 game losing streak from last season. The Trojans opening game against Middle Georgia State (Nov. 25) was canceled, so this will be their opening game.  

Entering his second season, head coach Scott Cross's Trojans are projected to finish in the bottom third of the Sun Belt, with most projections coming in at 11th of the 12 teams.  Troy returns five players from the 2019-20 campaign. After missing the final 16 games of the 2019-20 campaign, junior Zay Williams looks to build off an extremely successful season that saw the junior take the proverbial next step, averaging 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds. Sophomore’s Jakevan Leftridge (6.2 points, 4.2 rebounds) and Desmond Williams (9.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists) and senior’s Nick Stampley (5.6 points, 4.8 rebounds) and Khalyl Waters (3.7 Points, 2.2 rebounds).

Key Returners: Zay Williams, Desmond Williams, Nick Stampley, Khalyl Waters, Jakevan Leftridge

Key Newcomers: Kieffer Punter (JUCO), Rory Pantophlet (JUCO), Lydell Geffrard (JUCO), Antwan Burnett, Duke Miles, Kam Woods, Miles Mendes, Christian Turner.  Freshman Antwan Burnett is the first four-star signee in school history. Burnett scored 25 points in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game earning MVP honors

Despite having just one senior on last year’s squad, the Trojans lost seven rotational players from 2019-20 as the transfer portal sucked out much of the roster. However, Troy’s recruiting class is receiving some hype for Sun Belt standards, and the Trojans return a solid core with which to build off last season’s 9-22 (5-13) record.

Troy had probably the worst offense in the Sun Belt last season, sporting the lowest FG% in the conference despite turning in the 6th-best 3point percent. The Trojans relied on the three-ball and transition to score points. Scott Cross has historically played very fast and there’s reason to believe the Trojan tempo can ramp up in 2020-21 with a roster that appears to be more talented on paper. The added size will also help Troy’s rim woes, as the Trojans were one of the smallest teams in the country last season even before Zay Williams went down with an injury.

Troy should get better this season, but it’s unclear if it will be enough to bring the Trojans out of the basement of the Sun Belt.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

WCU Player of the Game (UNCW)

Purple & Gold's  "Player of the Game" for the UNCW game 

Xavier Cork

The WCU Purple & Gold's  "WCU Player of the Game" is  Xavier Cork
Sophomore forward Xavier Cork lead led the Catamounts to a 98-76 win over the Seahawks.  Cork led all Catamount scoring with 22 points, in a game where all 5 starters scored in double figures. He hit 10 of 13 of his field-goal attempts and was 2 of 2 from the free-throw line. Xavier also put up 3 blocks, had 4 assists and 1 steal. 

Purple & Gold congratulates Xavier Cork on his accomplishments in the Wilmington game.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Game #1 - UNC Wilmington Seahawks

To open the 2020-21 season, the Cats travel to Ashville's Kimmel Arena to face the UNC Wilmington Seahawks. UNCW was picked to finish 8th (of 10 teams) in the recent coaches poll of CAA teams. The Seahawks were picked eighth behind Hofstra, Delaware, Drexel, Towson, Elon, Charleston, and Northeastern, while junior forward Jaylen Sims was named honorable mention all-conference.

When: Wednesday, November 25, 2020, at 4:00 pm
Where: Kimmel Arena, Asheville, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
-announcers: Daniel Hooker, play by play - Jeff Bryson, color
TV/video: ESPN+
-announcers: Kyle Rush (Play by Play), Raul Hunt (Color Analyst)
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
Nickname: Seahawks
Mascot: Sammy C. Hawk
Colors:  Navy, Teal, Gold
Students: 17,499
Fan Message Board: Hawk's Nest

The Series: The Cats are 4-2 against the Seahawks, the two teams last played in 1997, with the Cats losing to UNCW in Fayetteville, NC by a final score of 60-72

Game Notes:   Western Carolina     -     UNCW

Picked to finish 8th in the CAA, CBS preseason rankings listed the Seahawks at #325 out of 357 teams in their preseason rankings (the Cats are ranked 180). Massey ranks the Seahawks at #274 and the Cats at #171. The Seahawks went 10-22 in the 2019-20 season and finished ninth during the CAA regular season before former assistant coach Takayo Siddle was named to take over the program on March 2020. Siddle comes to UNCW after working under former UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts at NC State. This game opens the season for both teams.

6-foot-9, Ian Steere transferred to UNCW earlier this year from St. John’s and has been ruled eligible by the NCAA to play in the 2020-21 season for UNCW. The Seahawks lost three players off last season’s roster, but only has four players entering their third year with the program -- Jaylen Sims; Ty Gadsden, who’s missed 19 games over two seasons because of injuries; Jay Estimé, who was out all but five games a year ago with injury; and walk-on Brent Jenkins.

First-year head coach Siddle wants to re-implement the "RunDefendWin" philosophy that worked well during his previous time at UNCW under Kevin Keatts, but it’s a big change from C.B. McGrath, whose defense wasn’t built around high-energy pressure and turnovers.

The Seahawks have three point guards -- Gadsden, sophomore Shykeim Phillips, and freshman JaJuan Carr from Pender High. There’s a logjam for the off-guard and wing positions with six other interchangeable parts: senior Mike Okauru and Estimé, juniors Sims and Brian Tolefree, sophomore Jake Boggs, and freshman Jamahri Harvey.

WCU Probable Starters:


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Monday, November 23, 2020

The SoCon tips off on a Basketball Wednesday

SoCon Men's basketball tips off on Wednesday, November 25.   You can watch SoCon Basketball all day, should be a good day for all the SoCon teams.    

-11 am  
ETSU at Abilene Christian 
The Bucs play in the Gulf Coast Showcase in the Hertz Arena, Estero, FL.   Watch on FloHoops

-1 pm 
North Georgia at Mercer 
The Bears open the season at home against Division II Night Hawks in Hawkins Arena, Macon, GA. Watch on ESPN+

-2 pm
Lander at Chattanooga
The Bearcats are a late addition to the Mocs schedule, as the Mocs will tip off at 2 pm in the Roundhouse.  Watch on ESPN+

-3 pm 
Piedmont at The Citadel 
The Division III Piedmont Lions visit Charleston to open the season for the Bulldogs in McAlister Field House, Charleston, SC.  Watch on ESPN+

-4 pm 
UNCW vs. WCU (in Asheville) 
The Cats open the season in the Kimmel Arena on the UNCA campus against the Seahawks. Watch on ESPN+

Tusculum at Furman 
The Paladins open the season at home against the Pioneers in Timmons Arena, Greenville, SC. Watch on ESPN+
-6 pm 
Brewton-Parker at Wofford 
The Terriers will open up its season by hosting NAIA's Brewton-Parker Barons in Richardson Indoor Stadium, Spartanburg, SC.   Watch on ESPN+

-7 pm St. 
Andrews at VMI 
The Keydets host the Cardinals of Andrews University in Cameron Hall, Lexington, VA.  Watch on ESPN+

-8 pm 
Greenville University at Samford
The Bulldogs host Division III Greenville Panthers in the Pete Hanna Center Birmingham, AL.  Watch on ESPN+

Monday, November 16, 2020

Game 2 - Eastern Kentucky


: Saturday, November 21, 2020, at 3:00 pm
Where: Roy Kid Stadium (20,000),  Richmond, Kentucky
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
Talent: Gary Ayers (PxP), Daniel Hooker (Color), Greg McLamb (Sideline)
TV/video:  ESPN3
Talent: Greg Stotelmyer, play-by-play, Jim Tirey, analyst
Live StatsEKU Live Stats
Conference:  Ohio Valley
Nickname: Colonels
Colors: Maroon and White
Enrollment:  14,980
EKU Message BoardMaroon Nation
Game Notes:    Western Carolina    -     Eastern Kentucky

The Series: This is the 6th meeting between the two teams, and the Cats own a 2-3 record overall against the Colonels. Western won the last meeting between the two teams, 24-7 played in Richmond.  This season's game will make the third consecutive game played in Richmond between the two teams (WCU is 1-2 in games played in Richmond). Eastern Kentucky’s all-time record in games played at Roy Kidd Stadium is 227-60-1.

Last Game vs. EKU (November 14, 2009) - Jaynes, Pittman and Special Teams Lead Western Carolina to 24-7 Road Victory over Eastern Kentucky  Western Carolina turned a pair of second-half Eastern Kentucky turnovers into points as quarterback Zack Jaynes tossed three touchdowns, including two to junior Marquel Pittman, as the Catamounts ended an eight-game road losing skid with a 24-7 non-conference victory over the Colonels in front of 4,200 fans Saturday afternoon at Roy Kidd Stadium.

Last Season's (2019) Record (EKU): 7-5 overall, 3-2 home, 4-3 away, 5-3 OVC

This Season's (2020) Record (EKU):  2-6 overall, 1-2 home, 1-4 away, on a 2 game losing streak

Head CoachWalt Wells, the first-year head coach is the 15th head coach in EKU program history. He was most recently a quality control assistant at the University of Kentucky during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The 2018 Wildcat team beat Florida for the first time in 32 years, posted the program’s best Southeastern Conference (SEC) record in 41 years, and beat No. 12-ranked Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl. All totaled, the 10-3 record was Kentucky's best season in 41 years and only the third 10-win season in school history.

Offensive Formation: Multiple Spread
- 2019 offense: 27.9 ppg. (56th in FCS)
Defensive Formation: 4-3
- 2019 defense: 22 ppg. (22nd in FCS)
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 9 / 2
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 7 / 4
Specialist - Returning/Lost: 3 / 5

The inaugural Opportunity Bowl in memory of Dr. Sheila Pressley will feature EKU and Western Carolina. Pressley, who passed away in January of 2020, was the dean of the College of Health Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University. She attended Western Carolina University for her undergraduate education, graduating in 1989.

In November 2019, the Colonels fired fourth-year head coach, Mark Elder, who had compiled a 21-24 record and went 15-16 against Ohio Valley Conference teams. In December, the Colonels hired former EKU assistant coach Walt Wells to fill the head coaching vacancy.

Eastern Kentuck is 1-4 in their last five games and 1-2 in home games this season. The Colonels bring a two-game losing streak into this meeting with the Catamounts.  Both teams are coming into the game off losses on the road, the Colonels lost to Central Arkansas, 25-37 while the Cats fell to #22 Liberty.
In last Saturday's loss to Central Arkansas, redshirt freshman Isaiah Velez made his first appearance as a Colonel quarterback and engineered an 11-play, 45-yard scoring drive that ended with a 27-yard field goal by Alexander Woznick. After the halftime break, EKU scored on all three of its third-quarter possessions to complete a comeback from 24 points down. Eastern out-gained the Bears 174-32 in the third quarter. 

The Colonels are averaging 118 years on the ground per game, with junior running back Alonzo Booth the leading rusher on the team. EKU prefers the pass, gaining approx. 231 yards per game in the air. Junior wide receiver Jackson Beerman is the leading target for the pass.  

2020 Eastern Kentucky Statistics (8 games):
Rushing Offense: 994 yards
Yards per game: 118
Yards per rush: 3.4 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 49
TDs rushing: 6
Passing Offense: 1854 yards or 231.8 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 12.5 yards
Passing 1st downs: 80
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 148-244-7
TDs Passing: 14
Total Offense: 2798 yards or 348,8 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 8-4
3d Down Conversions: 34 of 106 (32%)
4th Down Conversions: 8 of 14 (57%)
Field goal attempts: 11 - 14
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 24 of 29 (83%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 13 of 29 (45%)
PAT:  15 of 18
Punts:  42 for 1626 yards (Avg. 38.7)

Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have a 27% probability of winning (24-33) over the Colonels.


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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Coming up - The Opportunity Bowl

Western Carolina's Nov. 21 road meeting with Ohio Valley Conference-member Eastern Kentucky is now being billed as the inaugural Opportunity Bowl.

The two teams will play for the right to hoist the Opportunity Bowl trophy, which is being presented by Dinsmore & Shohl – a full-service national law firm with over 650 attorneys. The Opportunity Bowl is made possible by corporate sponsors and the city of Richmond, Kentucky –
The Nov. 21 match-up with EKU is the sixth overall in the all-time series between the two programs. The frontend of a scheduled two-year home-and-home agreement, this fall's meeting is also the first since 2009 – a 24-7 road win for the Catamounts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Game #1 - at #22 Liberty Flames

With the postponement of SoCon football conference games until the spring of 2021, this will be the first of 3 "fall" games for the Cats as they travel to Lynchburg, VA to face FBS independent and nationally 22nd ranked, Liberty Flames.

The Cats have won three of the six games against the Flames, first played in Lynchburg back in 1996. Liberty and Western Carolina are meeting for the first time in 12 years.

Game #1 - No. 22 - Liberty Flames  

When: Saturday, November 14, 2020 
Time: 12:00 noon
Where: Williams Stadium, Lynchburg, VA  (25k)
Turf: AstroTurf
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TalentGary Ayers (PxP), Daniel Hooker (Color), Greg McLamb (Sideline)
TV/video: ESPN3U
Talent:  Matt Warner (PxP), Joe Jauch (Color)
Conference: FBS Independent
Nickname:  Flames
Mascot:  Sparky
Message Board:  A Sea Of Red (ASOR)
Game NotesWestern Carolina   -   Liberty   -  Southern Conference
Depth RosterWestern Carolina

The Series: The two teams are currently tied, 3-3 in a series that kicked off in 1996. The Flames currently boast a two-game win streak into the series.  Coach Speir has not played Liberty in his time as head coach of WCU.  The Catamounts are 2-1 when playing at Williams Stadium. However, Speir has coached against Liberty three times. On Sept. 7, 1996, Speir was an assistant coach at Western Carolina when the Catamounts defeated the Flames 20-10 at Williams Stadium. While assisting at Elon, the Phoenix picked up home wins over Liberty in 2000 and 2002. 

The last game played vs. LibertySeptember 13, 2008 - Western Carolina Drops Heartbreaker, 19-16, to No. 25 Liberty Flames  Cullowhee, N.C. - Trailing by a dozen entering the fourth quarter, Western Carolina scored nine unanswered points in the final frame - including a 78-yard touchdown pass from senior Andy Horn to Marquel Pittman and the first career field goal from junior Blake Bostic. But it was not enough as the 25th-ranked Liberty Flames escaped with a three-point, 19-16 victory Saturday night at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.

Last Season's Record (Liberty) - 2019:  8-5 overall, 5-1 home, 2-4 away  

This Season's Record (Liberty) - 2020:  7-0 overall, 4-0 home, 3-0 away.  

Coming off a 38-35 victory at Virginia Tech, the Flames are now 7-0 for the first time in program history. The Flames have won nine straight games overall (second-longest active streak in FBS) and nine consecutive home contests at Williams Stadium. 

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis has been outstanding during his first six games for the Flames, averaging 100.5 rushing yards/game and seven rushing TDs. He's completed 67% of his passes for 1,339 yards and 12 scores. He has accounted for 11 TDs (nine passing, two rushing) in the last two games. Willis is one of four Liberty players with a 100-yard rushing game this season, ranks 12th nationally with 254.6 rushing yards per game.

Defensively, last week, the Flames limited the nation's No. 4-ranked rushing offense (Virginia Tech) to a season-low 201 yards on the ground.  Liberty is ranked 13th in the nation in total defense, yielding just 311.7 yards per game. Liberty has held three out of its seven opponents this season below 100 rushing yards, doing so in three straight games (North Alabama, ULM, Syracuse).

No. 22 Liberty will be the second straight FBS Top 25 team the Catamounts have faced. They closed out the 2019 season at No. 5 Alabama

2020 Liberty Statistics  (through 7 games)
Rushing Offense: 1782 yards
Yards per game: 254.6
Yards per rush: 5.6 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 100
TDs rushing: 16
Passing Offense: 1512 yards or 216.0 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 12.0 yards
Passing 1st downs: 64
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 126-191-2
TDs Passing: 16
Total Offense: 3294 yards or 479.6 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 13-6
3d Down Conversions: 42 of 94 (45%)
4th Down Conversions: 14 of 16 (88%)
Field goal attempts: 8 of 12
PAT-Attempts: 32 of 34
On-side kicks: 0-1
Red Zone Scores: 29 of 37 (78%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 23 of 37 (62%)
Punts - Yards: 19 - 751 - Avg per punt: 41.7

Game predictions:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 10% probability of winning (17-41) over the Flames. 


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Monday, 11-9-20 Facebook Live

Monday's (Nov. 9) Facebook LIVE / YouTube stream; the 2020-21 WCU basketball season preview!