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  • Daniel Hooker

Catamounts, Commodores Meet Tuesday in the Music City

Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina men’s basketball hits the road in nonconference play on Tuesday night in search of its third-straight win as the Catamounts travel to Music City to face the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tip-off from Vandy’s Memorial Gymnasium is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT in Nashville, Tenn.


Tuesday’s game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+ (paid subscription required) with Richard Cross and Mark Wise on the call. Live streaming audio from Gary Ayers on the Catamount Sports Network as well as live stats will be available at Fans can also catch the CSN broadcast locally on 105.7 FM / 540 AM WRGC “The River” in Sylva with an airtime of 6:30 p.m.


Western Carolina (8-2) completed its four-game run through the Big South Conference last Saturday, claiming its second-straight seasonal win in upending USC Upstate 70-53, limiting the Spartans to an opponent seasonal low in scoring. Tre Jackson played string music with five made 3-pointers in leading three Catamounts in double figures with 17 points, while Vonterius Woolbright played a familiar tune with his sixth double-double of the year with 15 points and a career-high tying 16 rebounds. Woolbright filled the stat sheet and nearly posted a triple-double, finishing with eight assists while classmate Russell Jones Jr. joined the chorus with 13 points in the winning effort.


Reaching double figures in all 10 games to date, Woolbright leads four Catamounts in double-figure scoring and continues to pace the Southern Conference by averaging a double-double with 21.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. He is also third in the league with an average of 5.2 assists per game. Woolbright, who collected his league-leading third SoCon Player of the Week honor on Monday, enters the week 14th in the NCAA in scoring and is fourth nationally in rebounding average including tied for second with 10.0 defensive boards per game.


Behind Woolbright, sophomore DJ Campbell is averaging 11.9 points per game, scoring in double figures in eight of the 10 games with the other two outings finishing with nine points. Jackson (11.6 ppg) and Jones Jr. (10.9 ppg) also average double digits for WCU to date.


Fifth in the SoCon in scoring (76.5 ppg) and second in overall field goal percentage (48.2%), Western Carolina seeks a second seasonal road win over a Power Five conference member after downing Notre Dame in South Bend 71-61 back on Nov. 11 – the program’s first P5 win since downing SEC-foe Arkansas in the 2003-04 season. At 8-2, WCU is off to the best start to a season since the 2009-10 squad opened the year at 10-2.


Vanderbilt (4-6) has played seven of its first 10 games at home with a 4-3 record including a season-opening loss to Presbyterian, adding a trio of neutral court losses. The Commodores look to halt a two-game slide, most recently falling to Texas Tech 76-54 in Fort Worth, Texas back on Saturday. Vandy has dropped two of its last three home dates, falling to Boston College (Nov. 29, 80-62) and to San Francisco (Dec. 6, 73-60).


Like WCU, Vanderbilt boasts four players averaging double-figure scoring heading into mid-December paced by Ezra Manjon at 14.9 points per game. Ven-Allen Lubin has played in six games on the year after missing part of the early season with an injury and is chipping in 12.7 ppg. Second-team preseason All-SEC selection Tyrin Lawrence has a 12.3 point per game average over six games played with Evan Taylor rounding out the quartet at 10.1 ppg. Colin Smith averages a team-best 6.6 rebounds per game, just ahead of Lubin at 6.0 rpg.


Vanderbilt was picked to finish 11th in the 14-team SEC race in 2023-24.


WCU represents the second Southern Conference opponent for Vanderbilt this season as the Commodores slipped past UNCG 74-70 back in mid-November, one of just the two defeats for the Spartans (8-2) this season.


The first meeting back in 1982 and most recently squaring off in the 2014 season, Western Carolina and Vanderbilt play for just the fourth time in nonconference series history with each meeting being held in Nashville and won by the home squad. The Catamounts are seeking their first win over the Commodores on the men’s basketball hardwood and are just 2-44 all-time against SEC competition with the aforementioned win over Arkansas and a win at Tennessee back in 1993.


Following Tuesday’s road game, the Catamounts return home for their final pre-holiday game, hosting Brescia College on United Community Bank Education Day on Thurs., Dec. 21. Tip-off from Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center is scheduled for an early 11:30 a.m. start.

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