Appalachian State University men’s basketball will host Winthrop on Feb. 18 as part of the Sears BracketBusters event. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. The Mountaineers (9-11, 5-5 SoCon) are hosting their third BracketBuster game and are participating for the
sixth-straight season. Last year, Appalachian held on for an 82-81 win at High Point to improve to 3-2 in the annual event. Four of ASU’s five previous BracketBuster games have been decided by one or two points.
ASU traveled to Winthrop for the 2008-09 BracketBuster game and fell in a tightly contested game, 65-63. The Apps hold a 1-1 record at home, with a loss at the final buzzer against Niagara in 2007-08 and an 81-68 win against Tennessee Tech in 2009-10. In its BracketBuster debut, the Apps won yet another close contest, 60-58, at Wichita State on Feb. 17, 2007.
After the narrow setback in 2008-09, the Mountaineers dominated Winthrop in the return game the following season, 70-51. Isaac Butts (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College Prep) averages 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in two meetings with the Eagles, while Andre Williamson (Dayton, Ohio/Prince George) adds 4.5 points and 10.5 boards per game.
ASU is 4-1 in five all-time meetings in a series that dates back to 1985-86. ASU is 3-0 at home.
Winthrop (9-14, 6-6 Big South) dropped its first five games of the season before bouncing back to win four of its next five contests. In late December, the Eagles forced overtime against Georgia and used that momentum to post a strong start in Big South Conference play.
Andre Jones leads the team with 17.3 points per game, while Reggie Middleton also chips in double-figure scoring with 12.4 points per game to accompany 4.5 assists. George Valentine is the team’s top rebounder at a 7.8 clip.
Head coach Randy Peele is in his fifth season at the helm of the program after leading UNCG from 1995-99. He previously sat on the bench as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech from 1999-2002, where competed against ASU head coach Jason Capel’s North Carolina squads in ACC play.
This season marks Winthrop’s seventh year in the event, and the program holds a 3-3 record through its first six seasons.
2011-12 marks the 10th season of the annual event, which features the largest field in history, 142 teams. Also participating from the Southern Conference, Davidson will host Wichita State while College of Charleston will travel to Kent State and Wofford will face Charleston Southern on the road.
The Mountaineers host Samford on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the second game of a three-game homestand. ASU then hosts College of Charleston on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Photo Courtesy: ASU coach Jason Capel, ASU Athletics