Gardner-Webb hosts NCAA scoring leader VMI Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Gardner-Webb returns home for a two-game swing against North Division opposition, beginning Wednesday night (Feb. 5) against VMI. Opening tip is set for 7 p.m. in Paul Porter Arena. The game will air live on The Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com) and wgwg.org, with Fabian Fuentes calling the action.
VMI holds a 6-3 lead in the all-time series, which started in 2008-2009 ... Gardner-Webb has won just once over VMI in Paul Porter Arena, with that coming on February 11, 2012 (77-61) ... The Keydets were without current stars Rodney Glasgow and D.J. Covington in that game ... GWU won the lone meeting between the schools last season, 63-49, in Lexington, Va. ... GWU staked itself to a 15-3 run to start last season’s game on January 26.
Gardner-Webb head coach Tim Craft is 12-11 in his first season as head coach. VMI head coach Duggar Baucom has won 162 career games and 125 during his time in charge of the Keydets’ program.
A LOOK AT THE KEYDETS
VMI has lived up to its “Runnin’ Roos” moniker on the hardwood again this season, leading the nation by averaging a sizzling 89.8 points per game ... The Keydets rank seventh in 3-point baskets made per game (9.4) and 25th nationally in fewest turnovers through 21 games ... Defensively, VMI has been explosive, ranking third nationally in blocked shots (6.9 per game) and 16th in steals per game (8.6) ... The dynamic guard duo of Q.J. Peterson (21.1 ppg) and Rodney Glasgow (19.1 ppg, 5.2 apg) had a 72-point outing at UNC Asheville combined ... Center D.J. Covington (16.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.9 bpg) is one of the league’s most underrated performers, and a dominant presence in the paint.
HIBBERT HAS HELPED
Transfer guard Naji Hibbert (6-5, 190, RSr.) has provided needed scoring punch in his first, and only, season with Gardner-Webb. A three-year performer at Texas A&M, Hibbert helped the Aggies to a pair of 24-win seasons and two NCAA Tournament appearances during his time in College Station. Hibbert is averaging a career-high 13.0 ppg for Gardner-Webb, and has topped the 20-point mark twice – both GWU wins.
Five of Gardner-Webb’s last eight games have proven to be very tight by the final buzzer. GWU is 2-3 in those five games, picking up both wins on the road. GWU is 3-4 this season in games decided by two possessions or less (2-1 in overtime). GWU rallied to beat Morehead State in overtime on November 29 in Las Vegas. On Saturday in Radford, Va., Gardner-Webb rallied from nine down in the final 3:20 to win, 73-72, with a burst in overtime.
BUILDING A WALL
Gardner-Webb has maintained solid defensive numbers this season, leading the Big South in scoring defense (66.7 ppg allowed) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.9 percent allowed). Gardner-Webb ranks No. 29 nationally in 3-point field goal defense so far this season.
THAT’S STRANGE ...
Point guard Tyler Strange (5-10, 180, Jr.) has been exceptional distrubuting the basketball this season, ranking second in the league with 5.6 assists per game and 27th nationally in total assists (126). His value came in another category at Radford, as he made a career-best 6-of-11 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 25 points. The Leominster, Mass., junior is averaging a career-high 9.2 points per game, and will soon surpass his 141 assists from last season.
Gardner-Webb has won six Big South Conference road games in a row, and eight of its last nine, dating back to the 2012-2013 season. GWU is 3-0 in league road games this season, winning in two locations it did not one season ago – at Winthrop and Presbyterian. Oddly enough, GWU is just 1-3 this season in home Big South Conference games (5-4 overall).
GIVE ME WEEKENDS ... AND HOLIDAYS
Gardner-Webb is 8-2 this season when playing on either Friday or Saturday, with wins over Jacksonville, Morehead State and The Citadel among that number. GWU is 4-9 in games played Monday-Thursday, however and one of those wins during that time came on a holiday – a 61-54 Thanksgiving Day win over IUPUI in Las Vegas.
AGAINST THE SOUTH
Gardner-Webb fared very well against its South Division foes last season, going 8-2 in divisional games to finish a game behind Charleston Southern for the top spot in the standings. GWU swept season series a year ago with Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina and UNC Asheville and split with Winthrop and Presbyterian. Gardner-Webb is 3-0 so far this season against the North Division. GWU was 3-3 against North Division foes last season (2-1 at home).
Forward Jerome Hill has been a monster for Gardner-Webb over the past four games, averaging 21.5 points and 9.0 rebounds to help GWU to a 3-1 record in those contests. He scored 19 points on the nose in three consecutive games, including a 19-point, 15-rebound effort in a home win over Campbell (1/25). He exploded for a career-high 29 points and pulled down nine boards at Radford (2/1), making and taking career-highs in field goals (11-of-23).
Gardner-Webb returns home to host High Point on Saturday night. Tip is at 7:00 in Paul Porter Arena. The game will air live on wgwg.org (Fabian Fuentes) and The Big South Network (bigsouthsports.com.)