BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Union College travels to Tennessee Wesleyan College for an important Appalachian Athletic Conference match up Wednesday as the stretch run over the next two weeks begins.
The game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. in a contest that features the two teams battling for third place in the conference standings. Tennessee Wesleyan holds a one-game advantage over Union. Tennessee Wesleyan enters the game with a 9-5 AAC mark with Union at 8-6. Union's overall record is currently 12-12 with Tennessee Wesleyan owning a 12-10 record.
King (Tenn.) College owns an 11-3 conference record while No. 8 Bluefield (Va.) College stands alone at the top at 14-0. A Bluefield win over Milligan (Tenn.) College or a King loss at UVa-Wise clinches the conference championship and automatic bid to the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Championship for Bluefield.
The stretch run for Union features four conference games, starting with Tennessee Wesleyan Wednesday. Left on the Bulldogs' schedule is a home contest against Covenant (Ga.) College, at Montreat (N.C.) College and the season-ending contest in Barbourville with King. Union's remaining four foes own a 26-30 conference record. Tennessee Wesleyan's remaining four opponents stand at 40-16 entering the two-week period.
A second-half surge brought Union closer to Bluefield Saturday, however the Rams went on to capture the 75-71 victory. Union tied the game at 62 apiece thanks to a Ryne Bretz (Carlisle, Ky.) 3-pointer with 7:20 left.
Brett Miller (Carrolton, Ky.) paced Union with 15 points to tie his career high. Bretz finished with 11 points.
Union's head coach Kelly Combs sent his 10th different starting line up onto the court Saturday and the fourth different starting five in the last four games.
The Bulldogs will look for their first win of the month. Union lost the first two games of February. In games played on Wednesday so far this season, Union owns a 4-4 record.
Beau Brown owns the team lead in scoring for Union. The junior from Athens, Tenn. pours in 13.5 per game. He also has 45 steals in 24 games and he is the only player to start in all 24 games this season.
James Johnson (Lexington, Ky.) and Michael Hester (Independence, Ky.) are adding 10 points per game.
Hester reached the 100-assist plateau in Saturday's game. He was an All-AAC Freshmen team member last season after dishing out 90 assists in 32 contests. Antionio Murry (Antioch, Tenn.) is right behind Hester with 3.0 assists per game.
Miller ranks as Union's leading rebounder with 5.1 per game.
Of 14 conference statistical categories, Union ranks in the Top-5 in half of them. Union's 46.7 field-goal percentage is second.
The stats show an even match up with Union scoring 71.8 points per game while Tennessee Wesleyan averages 73.0. The two are next to each other in the scoring defense category as well. Union allows 73.5 per game, the fourth-best average in the conference, with Tennessee Wesleyan giving up 73.1 to rank third.
Union will look to hold Tennessee Wesleyan to under 79 points. Union has yet to win a game when allowing more than 80 points, which has occurred nine times this season. The Bulldogs are 12-3 when opponents score fewer than 79 points.
Tennessee Wesleyan traveled up the road Monday to play NCAA Division III foe Maryville (Tenn.) College and returned to Athens with an 89-63 loss. Jessee Booher led the charge with 13 points, the only Bulldog in double-digits. Four more Bulldogs scored six points apiece.
Tennessee Wesleyan's leading scorer is currently Willie Maclin with a 13.8 scoring average and makes 56.1 percent of his shots to rank second in the AAC. He owns the rebounding lead with 7.0 per contest. He's blocked 16 of Tennessee Wesleyan's 44 shots along with a team-high 36 steals in 21 games. Maclin is one of two Tennessee Wesleyan players to start every game this season.
Booher provides 12.5 points per contest. He leads the conference with a 47.4 3-point percentage and a 83.6 free-throw percentage. Wes Suiter and Reggie Jackson contribute 11.8 and 10.8 scoring averages.
Tennessee Wesleyan owns the conference's best 3-point percentage at 37.7.
In the first meeting Union held Tennessee Wesleyan without a field goal for nine minutes in the second half en route to a 75-63 win on Jan. 10. During the nine-minute span Union reeled off a 19-2 run. After a Tennessee Wesleyan basket ended the run, Union owned a 49-36 lead. Union eventually led by as many as 20 points thanks to 11 points from Tino Washington (Lexington, Ky.) The win was one of four this season in which Union trailed at halftime. Tennessee Wesleyan owned a 3-point lead at halftime.
Brown paced Union with 13 points with four steals. Hester contributed a dozen points while Johnson finished with 10 points.
For Tennessee Wesleyan, Booher scored 21 points and Maclin added 18 points.
The series with Tennessee Wesleyan is currently tied at 7-7 since Union joined the conference. The regular-season advantage goes to Union at 7-6 and Tennessee Wesleyan owns an AAC tournament win from 2005. In Athens, Union is 2-4 and looks to snap a three-game losing streak on Tennessee Wesleyan's home court. However, Union has a two-game winning streak in the series thanks to last season's 60-59 win in Barbourville followed by this season's victory.
To see how the two teams match up, click here.