SAMFORD BASKETBALL RETURNS HOME FOR KEY MATCHUP WITH WOFFORD
--- The Bulldogs are coming off a 78-54 victory at Chattanooga on Wednesday ---
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. --- The Samford University basketball team will begin its final homestand of the 2009-10 season Saturday as the Bulldogs welcome the Wofford Terriers to the Pete Hanna Center for a 2 p.m. (CST) Southern Conference showdown.
Fans unable to attend the game in person can listen live to Samford's broadcast on WVSU 91.1 FM or via the Internet at www.samford.edu/wvsu. GameTracker and live video webstreaming will also be available at www.SamfordSports.com.
Following Saturday's matchup, Samford (10-15, 4-9 SoCon) will close out its three-game homestand against Chattanooga on Feb. 20 and Georgia Southern on Feb. 22. The Bulldogs own a 6-5 record at home this season, but are only 1-5 at the Pete Hanna Center in conference play.
Samford heads into Saturday's game with a full head of steam after earning a 24-point victory at Chattanooga on Wednesday. With the 78-54 win, the Bulldogs snapped a five-game losing streak and defeated Chattanooga for the first time since Feb. 21, 1974.
Junior guard Josh Davis propelled Samford to its momentous victory over the Mocs by scoring a career-high 30 points. The Bulldogs' native of Lubbock, Texas, was 7-of-13 from 3-point range. Davis was also named the Mid-Major Stud of the Night by FoxSports.com, for his performance against Chattanooga.
Davis, a native of Lubbock, Texas, is leading Samford in both scoring and rebounding this season and is averaging 13.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest. He is also ranked second in the SoCon with an average of 2.9 three-point field goals per outing.
Against Chattanooga on Wednesday, Samford head coach Jimmy Tillette inserted sophomores Kaylin Johnson and Matthew Friday into the starting lineup and the Bulldogs quickly jumped out to a 20-10 lead. The start was Johnson's first of his career, while Friday made his 10th appearance in the starting lineup this season.
Samford's tandem of Johnson and Friday combined to tally 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Samford's 78-54 victory against Chattanooga.
Wofford (18-8, 10-3 SoCon) enters Saturday's matchup as the hottest team in the SoCon. The Terriers have been victorious in each of their last five games and have not been defeated since a 70-68 setback at College of Charleston on Jan. 22. Wofford has won 11 of its previous 12 games and is leading the conference in both margin of victory and assist/turnover ratio.
So far this season, the Terriers are winning by an average of 7.5 points per game and have earned notable victories at Georgia and Santa Clara. Wofford owns a league-best 1.2 assist/turnover ratio this season and nearly knocked off Pittsburgh 63-60 in its opener on Nov. 13.
Last season, the Terriers' Noah Dahlman, a 6-foot-6 forward from Braham, Minn., averaged 19 points and six rebounds in two games against the Bulldogs. He was Wofford's leading scorer in each of the meetings and poured in a game-high 23 points in the Terriers' 74-61 victory over Samford on Feb. 7.
This season, Dahlman is ranked fourth in the SoCon in scoring and is averaging 17.3 points per game. He is also pulling down an average of 6.4 rebounds per outing.
The all-time series between Samford and Wofford began Feb. 25, 1924, nearly 86 years ago, as the Terriers held on for a "thrilling" 25-24 win held in Macon, Ga. Since then, each squad has picked up a pair of victories. The Bulldogs earned wins in both 1926 and 1982, while Wofford was triumphant in both SoCon games a year ago; 60-51 in Birmingham and 74-61 in Spartanburg, S.C.
Since 2001, there has been at least one Merritt brother listed on Samford's roster. In 2001,
J. Robert Merritt joined the Bulldogs as a freshman and went on to become the school's seventh all-time leading scorer with 1,584 points. Samford's former great was also the school's first All-American and is still the Bulldogs' leader in 3-pointers made in a career (311).
In 2003, Joe Ross Merritt came to Samford as a freshman and played three seasons with J. Robert. Joe Ross also proved to be one of the top players in school history and finished his career as the Bulldogs' all-time leader in games played with 121.
Joe Ross graduated following the 2007-08 campaign, and now there is another Merritt to wear his No. 5 jersey. In his second year at Samford, Jeffrey Merritt has moved into the Bulldogs' starting lineup and will keep the Samford-Merritt tradition alive until at least the 2012 campaign.
Nov. 15, 2007 marked the dawning of a new era for Samford as the Bulldogs began play in their brand-new 32-million-dollar Pete Hanna Center. The state-of-the-art 5,000-seat arena was completed in October of 2007 and features new locker rooms, a training room, a weight room and coaches offices.
The Pete Hanna Center, which replaced Samford's historic 45-year-old Seibert Hall, also houses the University's recreation center and workout facility. In their Pete Hanna Center debut, the Bulldogs dropped an 82-73 decision against perennial NCAA Tournament participant Belmont.