GAME NOTES: The Longwood Lancers hope to continue their unlikely run towards the Big South Conference Tournament title game as they take on the North Division's No. 2 seeded Virginia Military Keydets at the HTC Center in quarterfinal action on Thursday.
Longwood and VMI are meeting for only the eighth time since first playing during the 1982-83 season. VMI leads the series, 5-2, including the recent 94-80 home win on March 2. VMI also won 93-60 in Farmville on February 6.
The winner of this contest will go on to the semifinals to face the winner of Radford/Charleston Southern.
Longwood upset UNC Asheville, 87-72, in the first round on Tuesday to notch just its eighth overall win of the season. After enduring a 14-game slide that spanned from Dec. 17 to Feb. 13, Longwood has now won four of its last six games. The Lancers have just the seventh highest scoring offense in the conference at 68.2 ppg to go along with the worst scoring defense mark of 81.2 ppg.
Tristan Carey scored a game-high 21 points on Tuesday, as Longwood knocked off two-time defending tourney champion UNC-Asheville by fifteen points, in the first round. Karl Ziegler and Lucas Woodhouse netted 17 points apiece, while David Robinson added 15 points for the Lancers, who converted 25-of-26 at the free-throw line to collect the decision. A run any further by Longwood i very unlikely as it is concluding its first full-season as a member of the Division I ranks.
The Keydets won back-to-back games to close out the season after a six-game slide. If VMI were able to pull off a surprise run to the conference crown it would mark the first time the Keydets had ever stood atop the Big South as champions. If they're going to pull it off the Keydets will need to continue to light up the scoreboard like they have all season, ranking at the top of the Big South and 11th nationally in points scored (78.2 pg).
The Keydets are led by Conference Player of the Year Stan Okoye (21.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg) who leads the league in scoring and rebounding. D.J. Covington (14.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) would be the top scoring option on many other teams but gives the Keydets a prolific second option instead. VMI is a very tight unit and coach Duggar Baucom became the school's all-time winningest coach with the March 2 Keydet win over Longwood.
With Baucom at the helm, VMI's terrific scoring tandem should be enough to push it deeper into the tourney. Longwood's win in the first round helped provide a positive note late in the season, but its high frequency of turnovers will prevent it from repeating that success.
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