Having played 11 of its first 19 games on the road to date this season, the Western Carolina Catamount men’s basketball team embarks on a season-long three-game home stand on Wednesday (Jan. 24), hosting Southern Conference in-state rival UNC Greensboro on Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
On the heels of the third-largest home crowd in Catamount men’s basketball history, as over 5,000 fans packed the Ramsey Center, WCU looks to “White Out Ramsey” on Wednesday night with all Catamount fans encouraged to wear their white WCU gear to the game. The first 2,000 fans will get a free white pom poms courtesy of Rodgers Bros in Cullowhee that includes a coupon good for a FREE ice cream cup with any purchase. The first 400 WCU students to sit in the designated student section will receive a FREE Cat Cage T-shirt.
Wednesday’s game will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live audio from the Catamount Sports Network and live stats available online at CatamountSports.com. Fans locally can also listen to the game on 105.7 FM / 540 AM WRGC “The River” in Sylva (wrgc.com).
Including their next three games, the Catamounts play five of their next six at home in Cullowhee where the squad is 7-1 this season and have wins in 10 of their last 11 home dates. And though nearly 60% of its games to date have been played on the road, WCU has won a SoCon-best eight away games – double the next closest in the SoCon.
Western Carolina (15-4, 4-2 SoCon) looks to shake off a two-game losing skid that follows a nine-game winning streak – the team’s longest since 2009-10. The Catamounts saw their 10-game home win streak that dated back to last season snapped by Samford last Tuesday and suffered a last-second defeat at chromatic rival Furman on Saturday. WCU’s last two defeats have come by just a combined seven total points.
Against the Paladins, Vonterius Woolbright collected his 11th consecutive double-double with 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead two in double figures with DJ Campbell chipping in 11 in the 65-62 road defeat. Campbell buried a game-tying 3-pointer inside the game’s final 20 seconds last Saturday, but Furman’s JP Pegues answered with a contested triple at the top of the key with 0.8 seconds remaining to lift the Paladins to the three-point win.
Woolbright continues to average a SoCon-leading double-double, pacing the conference with a 21.1 ppg average that ranks 13th nationally, while also pacing the SoCon and ranking third in the NCAA with a 12.6 rebound per game contest mark. The Albany, Ga., product has 16 seasonal double-doubles that lead the NCAA. He’s flanked by double-digit scorers in Tre Jackson (12.9 ppg), Campbell (11.9 ppg), and Russell Jones Jr. (11.6 ppg).
UNCG (14-5, 5-1 SoCon) comes to Cullowhee winners of three straight and having won five of its last six games on the year. The Spartans were red-hot out of the gates, winning eight of their first nine to open the season including seven in a row. Four of UNCG’s first six SoCon games have been at home where the Spartans are 9-0 this season. Conversely, UNCG is just 2-5 away from the Gate City in true road games.
The Spartans have three players averaging double-digit scoring including Mikeal Brown-Jones who is second in the SoCon to WCU’s Woolbright with 20.1 points per game. Brown-Jones joined Woolbright as the only player in the SoCon to collect multiple SoCon Player of the Week plaudits, earning his second weekly honor on Monday (Jan. 22). He’s flanked by Keyshaun Langley (13.4 ppg) and Donovan Atwell (10.7 ppg), with Kobe Langley, the SoCon assists (6.2 apg) and steals (2.5 spg) leader, averaging just under 10 points per contest.
To date, WCU and UNCG have seven common opponents including Vanderbilt and High Point in nonconference play and league games against ETSU, Furman, Samford, The Citadel, and Wofford. Against those foes, both teams posted 4-3 records with common losses to High Point and Samford. WCU scored a win over Vanderbilt while UNCG fell in Nashville earlier this season while UNCG defeated Furman at home.
The top two scorers in the Southern Conference will square off on Wednesday as WCU’s Woolbright paces the league at 21.1 points per game just ahead of UNCG’s Brown-Jones just a point behind at 20.1 ppg. Additionally, the top two defensive squads match up as the Catamounts limit foes to a league-low 65.9 points per game – holding 11 straight opponents under 76 points – and UNCG allows just 68.0 ppg.
Western Carolina and UNCG meet for the 63rd time in series history that dates to 1979 with the Catamounts holding a slim 32-30 lead in the head-to-head matchups. The Spartans enter Wednesday’s game riding a four-game series win streak and UNCG has won 14 of the last 15 series meetings overall including seven straight at the Ramsey Center. WCU’s last win was a one-point decision in Greensboro back in 2021, with its last home victory coming in overtime back in 2016 which capped an eight-game series win streak at the time.
The Catamounts continue their three-game homestand on Ingles Court at the Ramsey Center this Saturday, Jan. 27, in the backend of a WCU hoops doubleheader with the WCU women’s team. The men host VMI with a 5 p.m. tip-off on “Pack the RAC” Saturday for both teams.
For tickets to WCU’s home games, please visit CatamountSports.com/BuyTickets.