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Men's Basketball Opens 2007 Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship Hosting UNC Asheville, Feb. 27

       

Men's Basketball Opens 2007 Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship Hosting UNC Asheville, Feb. 27

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COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL

CHANTICLEERS vs. BULLDOGS

Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Quarterfinal
Coastal Carolina's Kimbel Arena (1,039) ~ Conway, South Carolina
Thursday, February 22, 2007 ~ 7 p.m.
www.GoCCUSports.com

IT'S ALL ABOUT NOW: No. 4 seed Coastal Carolina opens the 2007 Advance Auto Parts Big South Conference Championship hosting No. 5 seed UNC Asheville at Kimbel Arena tonight. The winner advances to Rock Hill, S.C. to take on the winner of No. 1 Winthrop and No. 8 Charleston Southern, Thu., Mar. 1 at 8 p.m.

THE COACHES: Coastal Carolina Head Coach Buzz Peterson (North Carolina, '86) is in his second season at the helm of the Chanticleers with a 35-24 record and holds a 201-131 overall coaching record in 10-plus seasons. Last season, Coastal posted a 20-10 mark, including 12-4 in Big South Conference play, falling in the Big South Tournament Championship game.

Eddie Biedenbach (North Carolina State, '68) is in his 11th season as head coach at UNC Asheville with a 142-175 record at UNCA and 171-226 in his 14th year as a head coach overall. Last season, the Bulldogs were 9-19 overall and 6-10 in Big South Conference play, finishing seventh and losing in the Big South Quarterfinals to Coastal, 78-62. UNCA lost all five starters from last year's squad but returns eight letterwinners to this year’s team.

SERIES WITH UNC ASHEVILLE: The second longest series in CCU’s history, the Chanticleers and Bulldogs meet for the 50th time in history tonight. Coastal leads the overall series 26-23 and leads in Kimbel Arena 17-8. The Chants have won four of the last five meetings, including all three last year, the first sweep of the season series since 1993-94, and this season's first game in Asheville, 68-60, Jan. 8. However, UNC Asheville defeated the Chanticleers in Kimbel Arena just five days ago, 82-77. Prior to that, CCU had taken the last six in Kimbel Arena dating back the 2000-01 season. The two teams also met in last year's Advance Auto Parts Big South Quarterfinals in Kimbel Arena. Then No. 2 seed CCU earned a 78-62 victory en route to the program's first berth in the Big South Championship game in 13 years. (This year's box scores & recaps, as well as last year's tournament game, are on pages 9 and 10.)

PETERSON AGAINST THE BULLDOGS: This will be the seventh time that CCU head coach Buzz Peterson has faced his hometown school as head coach. At Tennessee in 2003-04, Peterson's squad defeated UNC Asheville 80-67 in Knoxville. Then Coastal swept the season series from the Bulldogs last season and split this season, with Peterson now having a 5-1 mark against UNCA.

THREE EARN ALL-BIG SOUTH HONORS: Coastal Carolina's men's basketball squad had three players earn postseason honors from the Big South Conference, as announced by the league office Feb. 26 following a vote of the Big South's head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members. Junior guard Jack Leasure and senior forward Moses Sonko were honored as Second Team All-Big South, while guard Joshua Mack was honored as the league's Freshman of the Year. Leasure was also voted as the Big South Men's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second straight season by the League's sports information directors.

Leasure earns postseason accolades from the league for the third straight season, having been the Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year last season and the Freshman of the Year in 2004-05. This season, he started in all 29 games for CCU, averaging 15.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest. He hit 90 three pointers and knocked down 38.5 percent (90-for-234) of his shots from beyond the arc, both ranking third in the conference. Leasure led Coastal in scoring in 12 contests, including scoring a season-high 28 points, with seven three-pointers, in the home win over VMI. He tallied double figures in 23 of 28 contests this year, including eight games of 20 points or more. This season, Leasure became the 14th Coastal player to pass the 1,000-point mark in his career, a total currently at 1,408. The junior also became CCU's all-time leader in three-pointers and just the third in Big South annals to hit 300 triples in his career, as he is at 300 heading into Tuesday's game. Leasure is also a two-time ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-District as presented by CoSIDA selection and on the national ballot for Academic All-American again this year.

Sonko earns his first All-Big South honor after posting career-bests of 15.4 points (ninth in the Big South) and 7.0 rebounds (sixth in the league) per game. He led the league in field goal percentage at 56.5 percent (183-for-324) and also ranked sixth in the Big South in free-throw percentage at 73.5 percent. The senior had a career-best eight double-doubles, led CCU in scoring 14 times and in rebounding in 11 contests. He tied a league record with 22 rebounds to go with 19 points in the home victory over VMI, Feb. 3. Sonko passed the 1,000 point and 500 rebound milestones during his senior season, just the 31st player in league history to accomplish the feat. He enters Tuesday's game with 1,153 points and 576 boards.

Coastal's fifth-ever Freshman of the Year winner, Mack led all freshman and ranked 19th in the league in scoring at 12.3 points per game. He is also fourth in the conference three-point percentage (.374), 12th in assists (3.14), 11th in steals (1.57), fifth in three-pointers per game (2.50) and 11th in assist/turnover ratio (1.26). In Conference Games, Mack averaged 13.1 points and was second in the League with a .854 free throw percentage (35-of-41). He also averaged 2.0 steals, 2.86 three-pointers per game and 3.0 assists against Big South foes. Mack started 25 of 28 games, scored a season-high 19 points in the win at VMI, including the late steal to set up the game-winning free throws, and had 13 points, including the game-winning layup as time expired, at Liberty. He scored in double figures in 20 games, including 10 of 13 League games.

COASTAL'S HISTORY IN THE BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT: Coastal has posted a 10-16 record in the history of the Big South Conference Tournament. The Chanticleers won the event three times, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1992-93 and advanced to last year's championship game for the first time since 1993. CCU has advanced out of the first round in two of the last four seasons.

Coastal has met UNC Asheville four times in Big South postseason play heading into tonight. The two teams have split those matchups, including last year's 78-62 CCU victory in the quarterfinals.

LAST TIME OUT - WRAPPING UP THE REGULAR SEASON AGAINST WINTHROP: Coastal Carolina's men's basketball squad got to within five in the second half but could get no closer, eventually losing its regular-season finale to visiting Winthrop, 83-69, Feb. 24.

Coastal held three leads in the first half early on, including a 15-14 advantage with 12:20 remaining in the first period. Winthrop went on a 9-1 surge over the next four minutes to take a lead it would never relinquish, going up 24-16 with 7:13 remaining. The Eagles pushed the advantage to 16 at 42-26 late in the first half and eventually entered the lockerroom with a 42-28 halftime lead.

Winthrop continued to lead by double digits early in the second half and was up 51-39 with 14:28 remaining in the game. Coastal went on an 8-1 run to cut the margin to just five at 52-47 and was down 57-52 with just under 10 minutes to play. However, the Eagles continued to connect and pushed the lead back out to 14 at 70-56 with 5:13 to go and CCU could get no closer than eight in the remaining minutes.

The Chants hit on 46.4 percent (26-of-56) of their shots from the floor, but the Eagles were up to the task, knocking down 50.8 percent (30-of-59) of their attempts, including 12-of-24 from the three-point arc. The teams tied the board battle, but Winthrop cashed in 15 Coastal miscues for 23 points.

Coastal was paced by Joshua Mack with 17 points, with Moses Sonko and Jack Leasure adding 14 and 10, respectively. Adrian Gross had a solid game with eight points and a game-high 11 boards. Winthrop was led by Torrell Martin, who was impressive throughout with a game-high 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from the three-point arc. Craig Bradshaw added 13 points and nine rebounds, while Phillip Williams and Michael Jenkins each chipped in 11.

KIMBEL HAS ITS ADVANTAGES: Coastal Carolina's Kimbel Arena may seat just over 1,000 fans, but it had been large for the Chanticleers the previous two seasons. Coastal is now 25-3 since the start of the 2002-03 season in non-conference games at Kimbel. CCU had a stellar 14-1 record at home last year, the most home victories since the program went Division I for the 1985-86 season. CCU is also 51-18 (73.9 percent) overall at the Conway campus venue in the last four-plus years, including a staggering 26-4 (86.7 percent) under current coach Buzz Peterson.

BIG SOUTH ACTION AT KIMBEL: In nine conference games against league foes at CCU’s Kimbel Arena last year, the Chanticleers posted eight victories, including wins over two-time defending champion Winthrop. In fact, Coastal had won 15 straight games on the Conway floor, including eight straight against conference opponents, prior to the defeat by High Point, Jan. 22. Under current head coach Buzz Peterson, CCU is 13-4 against league foes at "The Coop".

SEVERAL KEYS IN COASTAL WINS: There are several important factors for Coastal to be victorious. The Chants are 13-2 when leading at the intermission and 14-1 when ahead with five minutes to play in the game. CCU is 13-3 when holding opponents to less than 70 points in a game and 12-7 when shooting better than 45 percent from the floor. Additionally, Coastal is 12-4 when shooting more free throws than their opponents and 9-3 when outrebounding their foes.

RANKING NATIONALLY: Coastal ranks in the top 75 in several national categories as a team, as of Feb. 25. CCU is 20th nationally in assists at 16.9 per game and 22nd in steals at 9.2 per game. Coastal also ranks 68th in scoring offense (74.7 ppg).

Individually, junior guard Jack Leasure ranks 24th in three-pointers per game (3.1) and 77th in three-point field goal percentage (38.5 percent). Senior forward Moses Sonko is 38th in field goal percentage at 56.5 percent, while freshman guard Joshua Mack ranks 86th in three-point field goal percentage at 37.4 percent.

WINNING THE BATTLE OF THE BOARDS: During Coastal's 15 wins, one of the keys for the Chanticleers was the rebounding battle. Coastal has dominated on the glass, outrebounding opponents by a combined margin of 517-428, an average of 5.9 more boards per game than its opponents. However in the 13 losses, the Chanticleers have not won the board battle, losing nine and tying two with an average margin against of 5.6 rebounds a game.

LEASURE THE NEW KING OF DOWNTOWN: The three-point arc has been the domain of junior guard Jack Leasure since his arrival at Coastal for the 2004-05 season and that legend grew to new heights this season. In the win over VMI, Feb. 3, Leasure hit seven threes (the second highest total in his career and fifth best in school history) and became the Coastal career three-pointer leader. Leasure surpassed KeKe Hicks (1993-95) with 275 triples and now has 300 three-pointers in his three years, moving up to third and recently passing Mark Mocnik of Campbell (1988-93) with 295 in fourth and UNC Asheville's Josh Kohn (1992-96) with 296. He now only trails Doug Day (1989-93) of Radford with 401 and Scott Hartzell (1992-96) of UNC Greensboro with 309.

LEASURE GETTING BACK IN HIS ZONE: After ending the 2005-06 season ranked second in the nation in three-pointers at 4.2 per game, junior Jack Leasure opened the season with no treys in the loss against Xavier. However, Leasure made up for that with flying colors in the 83-63 loss to Campbell. He led all scorers by hitting five from behind the arc and finishing the game with 19 points. He now has 90 three pointers in 29 games, an average of 3.1 per contest. For his career, Leasure has knocked down 300 three pointers in his career and became Coastal's all-time leader in the category. Leasure took the record when he hit seven against VMI Feb. 3 and passed KeKe Hicks (1993-96) with 275.

Leasure had his best game of the season in the win over VMI, Feb. 3, as the guard scored a season-high 28 points, including going 7-for-13 from the three-point arc, and adding six rebounds and six assists. He leads the team and ranks seventh in the league in scoring at 15.6 points per game. He is also third in three-point field goal percentage (.385), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.84), third in three pointers made (3.10/g) and ninth in assists (3.62/g).

"JACKING" IT UP IN THE LAST NINE: And we aren't talking about poor shot selections by junior guard Jack Leasure in his last nine games. After going through a minor slump, Leasure has come out shooting the ball effectively for Coastal recently, scoring 18.9 points per game, hitting 49.6 percent (57-for-115) of his shots from the field, including 46.2 percent (30-for-65) beyond the three-point arc. He has also shot 26-for-33 (78.8 percent) at the charity stripe and added 27 rebounds, 35 assists and 14 steals in those nine games.

MOVING UP THE SCORING RANKS: With his two free throws in the closing seconds of the win over Wright State, Nov. 19, junior Jack Leasure became the 14th member of CCU’s 1000-Point Club, accomplishing the feat in just two years and three games. He currently ranks seventh on Coastal's all-time scoring chart and 27th on the Big South list with 1,408 points, recently surpassing Howard White (1975-76) at 1,321. Next up on CCU's career list in sixth is William Calvin (1985-88) with 1,465 career points.

SONKO MAKES HISTORY IN THREE WAYS: Senior forward Moses Sonko has made his mark on both the Coastal Carolina and Big South Conference career record books this season. In the win against Liberty, Jan. 20, Sonko reached the 500 career rebound plateau, just the 39th player in league history to ever reach that. Then at Winthrop, Jan. 27, Sonko tallied 12 points to become the 15th member of CCU's 1,000-Point Club and the 31st ever member (and fourth from CCU) of the elite Big South group that have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in their career. He currently has 1,126 career points (currently 11th on the Coastal career scoring chart) and 570 career rebounds (seventh at CCU).

SONKO PARTING THE DEFENSE: And that is exactly what senior forward Moses Sonko has been doing on the offensive end of the floor for Coastal. After averaging 11.7 points a game last year, Sonko has stepped up and increased his scoring to 15.4 points per game, ranking second on the squad and ninth in the conference, while currently in sixth in the league with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Sonko has also tallied a career-best eight double-doubles this season, including his most recent of 25 points and 12 rebounds in the home win over Radford, Feb. 5, his second consecutive double-double.

HARRIS DOUBLES UP AGAIN: Sophomore Joseph Harris earned his seventh double-double of the season and ninth of his career after scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 rebounds against High Point, Jan. 22.

Harris posted a pair of double-doubles in the win over Liberty, Jan. 20 with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and at VMI, Jan. 15, as he had a career-best and team season-best 31 points to go with 11 boards at VMI, Jan. 15. The two-game effort earned him Big South Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He had a streak of three straight games with double-doubles earlier in the season -- Campbell (14 pts., 13 reb.), Wright State (12 pts., 13 reb.) and Asbury (17 pts., 11 reb.)

He currently leads the team and is fifth in the Big South at 7.4 boards per contest and ranks fourth the squad at 8.2 points per game. He has improved those averages by going higher in league play with 9.1 points and 8.2 rebounds in 14 conference games. He has at least shared for team-high honors in rebounding in 18 of the 29 Coastal games this year.

SEVEN-UP THE BOARDS: Coastal Carolina is the only team in the Big South with two players averaging seven rebounds or more a game. Sophomore Joseph Harris leads the team and is fifth in rebounding at 7.4 rebounds a game, while senior Moses Sonko is right behind him in sixth at 7.0 caroms a contest.

J-MONEY: Junior Jack Leasure has been clutch from the three-point line in the past, but his most notable performance comes from the free-throw line. Leasure is an impressive 51-for-61 (83.6 percent) thus far on the season. Leasure has been good at the three-point arc as well, as he has hit 90 three-pointers in the 29 games.

LEADING THE WAY: Leaders often do the little things that don't show up in the stats. However with junior Jack Leasure, senior Moses Sonko and sophomore Joseph Harris, when they show up as leaders in the stats, in normally means good things for the Chanticleers. Over the last 57 games, Leasure has led Coastal in scoring on 26 occasions, posting a 21-5 mark, while when Sonko is the leading board grabber, CCU is 13-5. Harris has led the Chants on the glass in 29 of those contests, with CCU having an 18-11 mark in those games as well.

SONKO SHOOTING IT WELL: Senior forward Moses Sonko has been more assertive on the offensive end of the floor this season. Through Feb. 25, Sonko leads the team and Big South Conference in field goal percentage, now hitting 56.5 percent (183-for-324) of his shots from the floor. On the year, he is also second on the team in scoring, tallying 15.4 points per contest, good for ninth in the league.

JACK BELIEVES IN MAKING CHARITY COUNT: Junior guard Jack Leasure has made his opportunities at the free throw line worth something in his career. He has hit 144 of his 174 attempts at the line, a clip of 82.8 percent that is currently the second-best career free throw percentage in Coastal history.

SETTLING THE STARTING LINEUP: After using five different starting lineups in the first 12 games, head coach Buzz Peterson has started the same group in 14 of the last 16 games and looks to continue that trend tonight. Getting the nod for Coastal's in those games has been guards Jack Leasure, Joshua Mack and Everage Richardson and forwards Moses Sonko and Joseph Harris, with the group currently 10-6 as starters. The only constants in the lineup this season have been Leasure and Sonko, who have started all 29 games to date.

MACK ON THE ATTACK: Freshman guard Joshua Mack has shown some offensive skills during the early part of the season for the Chanticleers. Mack currently is third for Coastal and 19th in the league in scoring at 12.3 points per game. He also ranks 12th in the Big South in assists at 3.14 per game and fifth in three-pointers made with 2.50 a contest.

Mack had his best overall outing of the year, tying a career high with 19 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out five assists with no turnovers in the home win over Savannah State, Jan. 10. He tied his career high with 19 points to go with a career-best six rebounds, five assists and three steals, including a key theft in the closing seconds, in the win at VMI, Jan. 15. Recently, he posted another 19-point game in helping CCU to the O'Reilly BracketBuster win over Canisius, Feb. 17, hitting 6-of-14 from the floor, including four three-pointers.

SONKO GRABS THE REBOUNDING RECORD: Senior forward Moses Sonko made more history in the home win over VMI, Feb. 3. Sonko grabbed a new school-record 22 rebounds in the victory, 10 of them on the offensive glass, snapping a 19-year-old record. The previous mark was 21 rebounds by William Calvin against Limestone during the 1987-88 season.

OTHERS RISE TO NEW LEVELS VERSUS VMI: In the most recent win over VMI, Feb. 3, Coastal had a pair of players step up and set new personal records. Sophomore guard Steven Sexton scored a career-best 16 points, including a career-high four three-pointers, while freshman forward Randon Cavette had career highs of 11 points and six rebounds in just eight minutes of action.

HARRIS POSTS 30: Sophomore forward Joseph Harris scored a career-best and team season-high 31 points in the win at VMI, Jan. 15. That is the most points scored by a Chanticleer since current junior Jack Leasure dropped 33 against South Carolina State, Dec. 14, 2005. It was the most points scored by a CCU player in a Big South Conference contest since Pele Paelay had 30 in a loss at Winthop, Jan. 22, 2005.

LIVE ON THE RADIO AND THE WEB: Coastal Carolina men's basketball will be broadcast live on "The Team", 93.9 FM, 93.7 FM and 1050 AM in the Conway/Myrtle Beach area, as well as on the Internet at www.GoCCUSports.com. Matt Hogue returns for his ninth year as "Voice of the Chanticleers". In addition, there will be Live Game Stats of all CCU home basketball games on the Internet.