by Kevin Buczek
BANNER ELK, N.C.-After splitting a pair of one possession games to begin the New Year, Barton College will look to move back over .500 in league play when the Bulldogs visit Lees-McRae College in Conference Carolinas men's basketball action on Wednesday. The two teams are slated to tip-off in Williams Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m.
Barton College Men's Basketball
The Bulldogs are 6-8 overall and 2-2 in the league (three-way tie for fourth place). Barton started 2014 with a dramatic 76-74 home win against North Greenville but was on the other end of another one-possession game three days later losing 70-69 at preseason favorite King University on Saturday.
Sophomore guard Chris Flemmings is one of the league's most complete players ranking in the top dozen of the league in nearly every statistical category including points (17.8), rebounds (7.1), steals (1.43), blocks (1.25) and made three-pointers (2.21). Flemmings, who has three double-doubles, is coming off a 25-point performance against the Tornado, which marks his sixth 20-plus point outing of the season.
Senior guard Brian McNair has provided BC with a scoring boost since returning to the lineup three games ago. McNair is averaging 14.0 points, including 3.3 made treys per contest, for a Bulldogs team that ranks last in the league in scoring (71.9 points per game) and field goal percentage (39.6%).
Other top scorers for the Royal Blue and White include junior guard Daniel McClendon (8.4 points), junior forward Khari Faison (7.6), senior forward Evan Shelton (6.4) and freshman guard Kendall Patterson (6.3).
Shelton (6.5 rebounds) and Faison (5.1) follow Flemmings on the backboards. Faison registered his first double-double at Barton with season-high totals of 16 points and 17 rebounds against King.
Barton – 3-6 on the road this season – is one of the league's most aggressive teams ranking 30th nationally with 8.7 steals per game. McNair (2.3 steals), Flemmings (1.4), Patterson (1.1) and freshman Travis McEachern (1.0) all average at least one theft per contest for an antagonizing backcourt. BC has a +2.2 turnover margin on the season.
The Bulldogs are still shooting under 60% from the free throw line, which ranks 286th in NCAA Division II out of 291 programs.
Barton coasted to a pair of league wins against Lees-McRae last season winning 94-63 and 100-62. Flemmings (14.0 points), McNair (10.5) and Faircloth (8.0) all played well in both contests. BC has a three-game win streak on the Bobcats including an overtime win in 2012 in which Shelton scored a career-high 12 points.
Lees-McRae College Men's Basketball
The Bobcats have the same overall record as the Bulldogs at 6-8 but are just 1-3 in the league after beginning the New Year with three consecutive conference losses to Belmont Abbey (104-95), Erskine (89-72) and Pfeiffer (106-99 in OT).
Lees-McRae's one conference win is noteworthy with the Bobcats knocking off current league frontrunner King, 78-73, on the road in December.
Freshman guard Mike Chambers is fifth in the league in scoring with 18.1 points per game. Chambers is the conference's second-highest freshman scorer trailing Pfeiffer's Mike Smith (26.0 points).
LMC has a completely revamped lineup from last year with its top seven scorers all being newcomers including four transfer starters.
All five of the Bobcats regular starters are averaging at least nine points per game for a high-scoring squad that ranks third in the league with 83.0 points per game. Junior guard Jacquise Moore (Wallace State CC), junior forward Darryl Bond (Motlow College), junior forward Raul Tutton (Motlow) and senior guard Darius Smith (Virginia-Wise) all average between 9-12 points.
The freshman duo of forward Chad Hicks (5.6 points) and Darius Malbon (4.80) has provided the Bobcats with scoring depth off the bench.
Bond, who measures 6-foot-8, is Lees-McRae's top rebounder at 7.8 boards per game. Moore is second in the league with 2.4 steals per contest and Smith is third with 4.9 assists per game.
LMC commits the most fouls (23.1) and turnovers (16.6) in the conference.
Lees-McRae last defeated Barton, 67-62, on Jan. 29, 2011.