The UNCP men's basketball team will take on #3 Augusta State in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Christenberry Fieldhouse on the campus of Augusta State.
The Braves (18-11) will be making their NCAA Tournament debut in the matchup after qualifying for the regional for the first time in school history. Their 18 victories sets a new school record for most wins in a season since joining the NCAA Division II ranks prior to the 1992-93 campaign.
UNCP will matchup against the Jaguars (28-3) for the second time in as many games after meeting in the championship game of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Sunday, a 76-59 victory for Augusta State. Prior to the loss, the Braves had won their previous four matchups, including wins over USC Aiken and Georgia Southwestern in the PBC Tournament. They enter the tournament as the No. 8 seed while Augusta State captured their fifth-straight top seed and the right to host the tournament.
Sophomore Shahmel Brackett, a third-team All-PBC selection, leads the team in scoring with an average of 15.4 points per game, while senior Chris Hargrove and sophomore George Blakeney follow with averages of 11.4 and 10.7 points per contest, respectively. Brackett and Blakeney were both tabbed to the PBC All-Tournament squad for their efforts last weekend.
UNCP spent much of the season inside the top-10 nationally in rebounding margin, even leading the category for a few weeks, and they have out-rebounded their opponent in 23 of the 29 games played this season. They enter Saturday's game ranked seventh in the country in the category with a +8.7 margin, and they led the conference in the same category during league play with a +6.5 ratio which doubled the average of Georgia College, the second-best team in the category. The Braves sport six players that average four or more rebounds per game, led by Blakeney with an average of 6.5 boards per contest.
The Braves also cracked the top-50 in two other statistical categories, and enter the matchup ranked 28th nationally in blocked shots per game (4.3) and field goal percentage defense (40.7 percent).
The Jaguars will host their fifth-consecutive regional tournament this weekend after leading the Peach Belt Conference from the start, finishing the regular season with a 15-3 mark during league play. They finished league play atop five statistical categories, and inside the top-five in 11 total.
They are led in scoring by PBC Tournament MVP George Johnson, who averages 16.0 points per game and he is followed by Franck Ndongo who averages 13.4 per contest.
Augusta State holds a 33-8 advantage in the all-time series, including 18-straight victories, and the Jaguars captured all three matchups this season.