Big South Men's Basketball Tournament Preview - Semifinals

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The 2012 Advance Auto Parts Big South Men's Basketball Championship continues tonight with the Semifinals being contested at Kimmel Arena on the campus of UNC Asheville.  Both of tonight's games will air live on ESPNU and ESPN3 beginning at 6:00pm ET.  A printable version of each game preview is available in .pdf format.

#7 VMI KEYDETS (16-15) vs. #6 WINTHROP EAGLES (12-19) - 6:03pm - ESPNU, ESPN3

#7 VMI KEYDETS
Head Coach:
Duggar Baucom (7th year)
School Record: 103-109
Overall Record: 140-128 (9 years)
Big South Tournament Record: 7-5

How they got here: First Round vs. #10 Radford (W, 55-53); Quarterfinals vs. #2 Coastal Carolina (W, 85-68)

SEMIFINAL NOTES:  The Keydets have now advanced to the Semifinals for the fourth time in the last six years, and are 2-1 in the Semifinal round ... It is also the first time since joining the Big South in 2004 that VMI has reached the Semifinals in consecutive seasons ... VMI is just the second team in Big South Tournament history to advance to the Semifinals out of the First Round, the first being eighth-seeded Winthrop in 1993 ... VMI is the second consecutive No. 7 seed to advance to the Semifinals.  The last No. 7 seed to reach the title game was Charleston Southern in 2005 ... VMI is looking for its first Big South Championship Game berth since 2009 and third overall ... Below is a look at VMI's Semifinal Game history:

Semifinal Record: 2-1
2007 - #2 High Point (W, 91-81)
2009 - #3 Liberty (W, 78-58)
2011 - #1 Coastal Carolina (L, 81-89)

VMI meets Winthrop in the Tournament for the second consecutive year and third overall, but this is the first meeting in the Semifinals.  VMI won the last postseason match-up in 2011 (Quarterfinals) ... Junior STAN OKOYE has scored 97 points in five career Big South Tournament games (19.4 average) and is averaging 7.2 rebounds in that span.  In last year's Quarterfinal meeting with Winthrop, Okoye scored 23 points and had sevem boards ... Senior KEITH GABRIEL will be appearing in his ninth career Big South tourney game, and has recorded 11 steals in his last five outings ... Gabriel became the ninth player in Big South history to surpass 1,900 career points in the Keydets' Quarterfinal win over Coastal.  He stands at 1,904 ... Okoye's career totals are at 1,460 points and 656 rebounds.

SEASON SERIES:  The teams split the regular-season series in 2011-12, with the home team claiming each victory ... KEITH GABRIEL averaged 29.0 points in the two games, scoring 26 in the first meeting on Jan. 7 at Winthrop and 32 on Feb. 4 in Lexington ... The Keydets made 45-of-56 free throw attempts in the two meetings ( =80.4 percent) and went 25-of-48 from  beyond the arc.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:  VMI opened the Tournament with a 55-53 home win over No. 10 Radford, followed by the 17-point win over No. 2 Coastal Carolina ... The Keydets drained 14 three-pointers against the Chanticleers, the third-most in a Big South Quarterfinal game ... STAN OKOYE and KEITH GABRIEL are averaging 15.5 points thus far in the Tournament ... VMI is now 2-0 in neutral site games this season ... Head coach DUGGAR BAUCOM is just the ninth coach in Conference history with at least seven Big South Tournament victories.  He ranks ninth all-time in Big South history with 103 overall wins.

#6 WINTHROP EAGLES
Head Coach:
Randy Peele (5th year)
School Record: 77-81
Overall Record: 123-150 (9 years)
Big South Tournament Record: 10-3

How they got here: Quarterfinals vs. #3 Campbell (W, 71-55)

SEMIFINAL NOTES:  Winthrop is making its 16th Semifinal appearance and third under head coach RANDY PEELE.  Peele is 3-0 in Big South Semifinal games, including a victory as UNC Greensboro's head coach in 1996 ... The Eagles have won their last five Semifinal appearances, and 10 of their last 11.  Winthrop is looking to advance to its 12th Championship game, which would extend its Big South Conference record for most appearances in the title game ... Winthrop is the first No. 6 seed to advance to the Semifinals since VMI in 2006.  That year, the Keydets reached the Championship Game and lost to No. 1 seed Winthrop ... Below is a look at Winthrop's Semifinal Game history:

Semifinals Record: 11-4
1986 - #3 Augusta (L, 79-87)
1988 - #1 Coastal Carolina (W, 75-40)
1989 - #2 Campbell (L, 55-78)
1990 - #1 Coastal Carolina (L, 49-62)
1993 - #5 Radford (W, 87-69)
1999 - #4 Charleston Southern (W, 70-61)
2000 - #6 Charleston Southern (W, 70-65)
2001 - #6 Liberty (W, 67-62 - 2OT)
2002 - #5 Elon (W, 77-66)
2003 - #5 UNC Asheville (L, 80-81 - OT)
2005 - #4 Birmingham-Southern (W, 78-64)
2006 - #5 High Point (W, 77-65)
2007 - #5 UNC Asheville (W, 79-60)
2008 - #3 High Point (W, 61-53)
2010 - #2 Radford (W, 61-46)

Head coach RANDY PEELE is 10-3 in the Big South Tournament, having led former member UNC Greensboro to the Big South title in his first head coaching season in 1996, as well as directing the Eagles to the Championship crown twice (2008, 2010).  His 10 career Big South Tournament wins rank fourth in League history ... Winthrop is 1-1 against VMI in the Big South Tournament, the win being an 84-81 victory in the 2006 Championship game ... This will be just the second Semifinal meeting between the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds, the first coming in 2005.  The No. 7 seed (Charleston Southern) won that match-up.

SEASON SERIES:  ANDRE JONES averaged 24.5 points in the two regular-season meetings, while REGGIE MIDDLETON and MATT MORGAN each contributed 17.5 points and GEORGE VALENTINE chipping in 16.0.  Jones scored 27 points in Winthrop's 91-84 home win on Jan. 7.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:  The Eagles downed No. 3 seed Campbell, 71-55 on Wednesday, behind REGGIE MIDDLETON's 25 points -- one point shy of his career-high.  Middleton owns a career 16.2 scoring average in the Big South Tournament (five games) ... The Eagles are the Big South's all-time winningest team in the Conference Tournament with a 35-16 record.

#4 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN BUCCANEERS (19-11) at #1 UNC ASHEVILLE BULLDOGS (22-9) - 8:00pm - ESPNU, ESPN3

#4 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN BUCCANEERS
Head Coach:
Barclay Radebaugh (7th year)
School Record: 88-122
Overall Record: 109-130 (8 years)
Big South Tournament Record: 2-5

How they got here: Quarterfinals vs. #5 Liberty (W, 88-74)

SEMIFINAL NOTES:  Charleston Southern is in its first Semifinal appearance since 2006 and its 13th overall ... The Buccaneers are the fifth consecutive No. 4 seed to advance to the Semifinals.  The last No. 4 seed to reach the title game was UNC Asheville in 2000 ... Below is a look at Charleston Southern's Semifinal Game history:

Semifinal Record: 6-6
1986 - #5 UNC Asheville (W, 65-64 - OT)
1987 - #4 Radford (W, 91-70)
1988 - #3 Radford (L, 82-91 - OT)
1992 - #1 Radford (W, 88-83)
1995 - #6 Liberty (W, 60-58)
1996 - #1 UNC Greensboro (L, 60-69)
1997 - #1 UNC Asheville (W, 67-57)
1999 - #1 Winthrop (L, 61-70)
2000 - #2 Winthrop L, 65-90)
2001 - #1 Radford (L, 62-65)
2005 - #6 High Point (W, 58-55)
2006 - #2 Coastal Carolina (L, 67-73)

Charleston Southern meets UNC Asheville in the Tournament for the second-straight year and fifth time overall.  The Bucs won the first two postseason meetings -- both Semifinal contests.  CSU last defeated Asheville in the Tournament in 1997, which was EDDIE BIEDENBACH's first season as the Bulldogs' coach ... In last year's Quarterfinal meeting with UNC Asheville, KELVIN MARTIN had 16 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to three steals and two blocked shots ... JEREMY SEXTON added 11 points and handed out five assists.

SEASON SERIES:  Charleston Southern won the lone regular-season meeting with Asheville, and was the only Big South team to defeat the Bulldogs on their home court with a 93-88 win on Jan. 19.  ARLON HARPER had 28 points and KELVIN MARTIN had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds ... The Bucs shot 58.9 percent from the field that night.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:  The Buccaneers surged past No. 5 seed Liberty Wednesday, 88-74.  SAAH NIMLEY had 19 points while ARLON HARPER and KELVIN MARTIN tallied 18 each ... Martin is just the third player in Big South history with 1,000 career points (1,468), 900 rebounds (963), 200 steals (221) and 100 blocked shots (124) ... Freshman guards Nimley and Harper have combined for 782 points this season.  Nimley has scored 400 for a 13.3 average, while Harper has 382 markers and 12.7 per game.  By comparison, Asheville senior tandem MATT DICKEY and J.P. PRIMM combined for 618 points during their freshmen season of 2008-09.  Both are now well over 1,600 points each.

#1 UNC ASHEVILLE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Eddie Biedenbach (16th year)
School Record: 238-241
Overall Record: 267-292 (19 years)
Big South Tournament Record: 18-13

How they got here: Quarterfinals vs. #8 High Point (W, 86-61)

SEMIFINAL NOTES:  The Bulldogs have now advanced to the Semifinals in 12 of head coach EDDIE BIEDENBACH's 16 seasons ... It is Asheville's sixth consecutive Semifinals appearance and 17th all-time berth in the League's final four ... The last Big South team to play in six-straight Semifinals was Radford (seven from 1997-03) ... The Bulldogs are looking for their third Championship Game berth in five seasons, and eighth overall ... Asheville continues its quest to become the first defending champion to repeat since Winthrop won four consecutive titles from 2005-08 ... Below is a look at UNC Asheville's Semifinal Game history:

Semifinal Record: 7-9
1986 - #1 Charleston Southern (L, 64-65 - OT)
1987 - #2 Campbell (L, 76-79)
1989 - #1 Coastal Carolina (W, 88-76)
1990 - #7 Radford (W, 78-72)
1996 - #2 Liberty (L, 60-73)
1997 - #4 Charleston Southern (L, 57-67)
1998 - #4 Liberty (W, 46-42)
1999 - #2 Radford (L, 79-92)
2000 - #1 Radford (W, 78-71)
2003 - #1 Winthrop (W, 81-80 - OT)
2004 - #2 High Point (L, 49-63)
2007 - #1 Winthrop (L, 60-79)
2008 - #3 Liberty (W, 75-57)
2009 - #1 Radford (L, 86-94)
2010 - #1 Coastal Carolina (L, 73-92)
2011 - #3 High Point (W, 60-47)

UNC Asheville meets Charleston Southern in the Big South Tournament for the second consecutive year and fifth time overall.  Asheville won last year's Quarterfinal meeting, 72-63, its second consecutive win over the Buccaneers in the postseason ... The Bulldogs are 0-2 against Charleston Southern in Semifinal games ... Asheville has advanced to the Championship Game seven times, winning the crown in 1989 as the No. 4 seed, in 2003 as the No. 5 and in 2011 as the No. 3 seed ... The Bulldogs are looking to become the ninth consecutive No. 1 seed to advance to the Championship Game.

SEASON SERIES:  In the lone meeting between the schools, J.P. PRIMM scored 26 points while MATT DICKEY added 22.  The Bulldogs shot 55.8 percent from the floor and 12-of-24 from long range.

TOURNAMENT NOTES:  UNC Asheville knocked off No. 8 seed High Point Wednesday, 86-61.  CHRIS STEPHENSON led the way with 18 points, while JEREMY ATKINSON had 16 and a team-high eight rebounds ... J.P. PRIMM needs six assists to become just the third player in Big South history with 600 in a career.