Barton host Abbey in men’s league quarterfinals Saturday
by Kevin Buczek
WILSON, N.C.-Regular season co-champion Barton College will try and exact some postseason revenge on seventh-seeded Belmont Abbey College when the second-seeded Bulldogs host the Crusaders in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Tournament Powered by OrthoCarolina on Saturday in the Dog House at 7 p.m.
The semifinals and finals of the Conference Carolinas Basketball Tournaments Powered by OrthoCarolina will be played at the Cabarrus Center in Concord, N.C. The Barton-Belmont Abbey winner will play the winner of the No. 6 North Greenville at No. 3 King game in the semifinals on Wed., March 5 at 8 p.m. The championship game is slated for another 8 p.m., tip on Thurs., March 6. The other half of the bracket features No. 8 Pfeiffer at No. 1 Mount Olive and No. 5 Erskine at No. 4 Limestone.
Barton College Men's Basketball
The Bulldogs are ranked 10th in the second NCAA Southeast Region top-10 poll that was released on Wednesday.
Barton (16-10 overall, 12-4 conf.) will need a solid performance in the league tourney to advance to the NCAA postseason play for a third consecutive season (three conference tourney champs get automatic bids and then the next five ranked teams get at-large bids). NCAA.com will announce the field of 64 on Sunday, March 9 at 10:30 p.m. after considering all games played to that point.
The Bulldogs had a season-best, six-game win streak snapped in its regular season finale at University of Mount Olive, 75-72, on Tuesday. Barton still managed to earn a share of the Conference Carolinas regular season title for a second straight year but dropped to the second seed losing the head-to-head tiebreaker against top seed Mount Olive.
BC has won four Conference Carolinas Tournament titles under the leadership of head coach Ron Lievense (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012).
Sophomore guard Chris Flemmings was named league Player of the Week on Tuesday and is averaging team-best totals of 20.4 points and 6.8 rebounds that rank third and seventh in the league, respectively. Flemmings averaged 22.2 points in 16 league games.
Senior guard Brian McNair is the Bulldogs next top scorer at 11.3 points while leading BC with 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals.
Barton maintains a deep roster with 11 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game (all have played in majority of the games this season). Other top scoring options include junior Daniel McClendon (11.3 points), junior Khari Faison (8.8), freshman Kendall Patterson (5.9), freshman Travis McEachern (5.5), senior Evan Shelton (5.2) and senior Zach Faircloth (4.6).
The Bulldogs ranks in the upper third of the conference in rebound margin (+1.2), turnover margin (+2.2), steals (8.2) but has will struggle shooting the ball at times especially at the free throw line (62.5%).
Barton swept Belmont Abbey in the regular season by scores of 101-97 in Belmont and 87-76 in Wilson. However, the Crusaders have had success against the Bulldogs in the league tourney defeating BC, 105-87, in the semifinals last year.
Belmont Abbey College Men's Basketball
Belmont Abbey tied the other Crusaders in the league in North Greenville for sixth place in the standings but also lost a tiebreaker to become the No. 7 seed. The Abbey (11-15 overall, 7-9 conf.) is coming off a 72-61 road win at Erskine but is still just 3-10 away from the Wheeler Center.
Belmont Abbey is the defending Conference Carolinas Tournament champions but graduated the league's top scorer from last season in Tyshawn Good.
The Crusaders do return one of three All-Tourney selections from last season's championship squad in senior forward Darryl Durham, who is averaging 15.3 points and 8.9 rebounds on a league-best 65.5% shooting precision.
Senior guard Chris Davis leads five Crusaders that are averaging double figures with 18.2 points. Other high scorers for the league's second highest scoring offense (82.6 points per game) are senior guard Ryan Conrad (12.5 points), junior guard Justin Kuhlman (11.0) and junior guard Jonathan Garrett (10.8).
The Abbey also boasts the conference's best free throw percentage (76.7%). However, the Crusader have been prone to turnovers and have a negative rebound margin.