Braves To Meet Montevallo In Opening Round Of PBC Tournament
COLUMBUS, Ga. – The UNCP men's basketball team will begin its run in the postseason on Friday afternoon when the Braves take on red hot Montevallo in the opening round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament at the Lumpkin Center in Columbus, Ga.
The Braves (17-11), seeded fourth in the PBC East Division, will take on the Falcons (21-7), the top seed out of the PBC West, in the opening game of the tournament at 1 p.m. Montevallo captured a 74-69 win over the Black & Gold inside the English E. Jones Center on January 7 in the only regular season meeting between the two sides.
UNCP will roll into postseason play having captured three of its last four outings, but are still stinging after a 79-75 loss at Lander on February 22 that officially put the lid on the regular season schedule. The Falcons have won six of their last seven games and are a perfect 3-1 in neutral site contests this season.
Second team all-conference selection Shahmel Brackett finished the regular season with a team-leading 14.1 points per game, but the Black & Gold has a phenomenal supporting cast as well, including three other players that are averaging double-figure point totals heading into the postseason. Marcus Heath chips in a dozen points an outing on the strength of 44.6 percent field goal shooting, while K.J. Cooper and George Blakeney each post 10.5 points per game as well.
Montevallo sports the league's top scorer in D.J. Rivera (22.3 points/game), while fellow senior Antoine Davis scores 13.2 points an outing. The Falcons have had continued success this season in the rebounding column, however, and will carry the nation's third-best rebounding margin (+10.6) into the Lumpkin Center. The Falcons also boast the PBC's best blocking team (4.3/game), as well as the league's second-best pick-pocketing squad (9.3 steals/game).
In the January meeting between the two sides, Montevallo used a career-best 29 points from Jonas Brown, a healthy rebounding advantage (38-26) and a key 9-0 run with less than four minutes remaining to deal UNCP its first PBC loss of the season. The Falcons shot nearly 48 percent from the field in the contest, including a 57-percent effort in the second half. The game was memorable to Brackett for a positive reason, however, as the Florence, S.C., native topped the 1,000-point plateau in the outing.
Montevallo has posted wins in all three previous meetings with the Braves, but two of the results have been decided by five or less points. The Braves are 6-15 all-time in PBC Tournament play, including a 2-1 record in the 2011 event that concluded with a loss to Augusta State in the championship game.