Coastal Carolina University Men's BasketballCHANTICLEERS vs. PANTHERS
SERIES HISTORY: Coastal holds a 9-6 advantage in this series with the Panthers, but is just 3-3 at the Millis Center. CCU and High Point first met during the 1978-79 season, but after an 18-year layoff, the two teams became conference rivals in the 1998-99 season. Since then, Coastal has won eight of the 13 meetings. Last year, the road team won each of last year's contests, including CCU's 73-52 victory at High Point.
THE COACHES: Coastal Carolina Head Coach Pete Strickland (Pittsburgh, '79) is in his seventh season at the helm of the Chanticleers and holds a 69-122 overall coaching record. Last season, Coastal posted a 14-15 mark, including 8-8 in Big South Conference play.
Bart Lundy (Winthrop, 93) is in his second season at High Point, with a 29-25 record with the Panthers. Overall, he has a 144-64 record in his eighth season as a head coach overall. Last season, High Point posted an 19-11 record overall and tied for third in the Big South with a 10-6 record and advanced to the Advance Auto Parts Big South Tournament Championship game.
THE WINDING ROAD HAS NOT BEEN KIND: After posting a 4-4 record on the road in the Big South last season, CCU is now 2-3 on the road in the Big South this season, with wins at VMI (Jan. 10) and Birmingham-Southern (Jan. 24) and 2-10 in road games overall.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: Coastal has two players among the top 50 in the nation in their respective categories as of Jan. 31. Jack Leasure ranks 34th with 2.9 threes per game, and 35th in three-point field goal percentage at 42.1 percent while Pele Paelay ranks 20th in steals at 2.6 per game.
LEASURE PICKS UP FIFTH WEEKLY BIG SOUTH HONOR:Coastal Carolina's Jack Leasure was named the Big South Conference/New Balance Men's Basketball Freshman of the Week, Feb. 7. This is the second straight week he has won it and fifth time this season. Only three other players have accomplished that feat in league history (Joe Spinks (5)-Campbell-1990-91, Frank Harris (6)-Davidson-1991-92, Tyrone Walker (5)-Winthrop-2000-01).
The freshman guard averaged 13.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in helping CCU to a 2-1 record on the week. He scored 10 points in the home win over UNC Asheville, 11 at Charleston Southern and then chipped in 20 points, including two key three pointers in the closing minutes, in the home in over VMI. He also doled out six assists and had three steals on the week.
REASONS FOR THE CURRENT ROLL: The Chanticleers are one of the hottest teams in the Big South Conference right now, having won four of their last five games. There are several reasons for this success. Coastal has outrebounded its five opponents by 7.4 boards a game, including a staggering 6.8 additional offensive rebounds. Along with creating 2.8 more turnovers a game, that has given the Chants 44 more shots in the five games, an average of 8.8 more shots. Additionally, CCU has increased its pressure outside the arc, hitting more than twice the number of threes (35 to 17) and limiting opponents to just 26.6 percent from the three-point line.
UPPING THE GAME IN LEAGUE PLAY: It is said that teams have to step up their play when they get to league play, and CCU is proof of that in the Big South stats this season. Junior Pele Paelay has increased his scoring average from 16.4 points in non-conference action to 19.4 points in Big South play, while freshman Jack Leasure (11.8 to 15.7), sophomore Adrian Gross (5.6 to 6.5) and senior Alvin Green (5.7 to 7.7) have all seen significant increases in their scoring in the first 11 league tilts.
CLOSE CALLS IN THE BIG SOUTH A REGULAR FOR CCU: Games in the Big South are always a battle, and last year's numbers prove it for Coastal Carolina. Last season in the league, 11 of CCU's 16 Big South contests were decided by nine points or less, with Coastal holding a 4-7 mark in those games. CCU is now 3-2 in its Big South games decided by nine or less. Earlier this season, CCU defeated Winthrop by eight and lost by seven to Liberty. CCU earned a one-point win at Birmingham-Southern, Jan. 24. Recent, the Chants dropped a gut-wrenching two-point game at Charleston Southern, Feb. 3, but rebounded with a five-point win over VMI, Feb. 5.
PAELAY GETS IT DONE: Junior Pele Paelay has made things happen offensively for Coastal this season. Paelay knocked down a career-high 27 points and made it his first career double-double with 11 rebounds at Evansville, Nov. 23. He later followed up that performance with 22 points and 11 rebounds at UNC Greensboro, Nov. 23. Paelay had a career-high 38 points and eight rebounds in the win at VMI, Jan. 10. The 38 points are the sixth most in school history and best in the league this year, while his 14 field goals tied for third in CCU annals. For the season, Paelay is averaging a league-best 17.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game, leading the team in both points and steals. He has also led CCU in scoring 12 times and nine times in rebounding, while tallying double-digit scoring in 20 of 22 contests. He is the only player in the Big South Conference to rank in the top 10 in scoring (1st), rebounding (7th) and steals (1st) and is just out in 11th in assists.
AT YOUR LEASURE: Freshman Jack Leasure has been impressive on the offensive end of the floor in his first 23 collegiate games. He opened his collegiate career Nov. 19 with 16 points against Indiana State and followed it up with 17 points, including five three-pointers, at Evansville, Nov. 21. Leasure then had a career high 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting against Hawaii Nov. 26. He recently scored a career-best 24 points, including five three-pointers, in the home win over Winthrop, Jan. 5. He is now averaging 13.7 points (ninth in the Big South) and hitting 42.1 percent (67-of-159) from the three-point arc,third best in the Big South Conference. He also leads the league in three-pointers per game with 2.91.