Photo Courtesy of Matt Jones
BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College men's basketball team will open its 2019-20 season by hosting the Conference Carolinas/South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Challenge this weekend at Williams Gymnasium. Lees-McRae will face off against Carson-Newman at 7 p.m. Friday evening before taking on UVa-Wise on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Quick Look Back – The 2018-19 season for the Bobcats finished with the team sporting an overall record of 11-18 and a conference mark of 7-11. For its effort, Lees-McRae drew the eighth seed in the conference tournament where it bowed out to eventual tournament champion Emmanuel in the opening round.
Preseason Prediction – Lees-McRae was picked to finish sixth in the 2019-20 Preseason Conference Carolinas Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll. Even with the sixth place finish, the Bobcats did receive two first-place votes in the poll. Furthermore, the trio of Quay Kimble, Jason Saintizaire and Kamil Williams were selected as players to watch for the team this season.
Bobcats are Back – Unlike last season where the Bobcats had almost an entirely new team, the 2019-20 Bobcats will have several familiar faces on their roster. Of the 17 players currently on the active roster, 10 suited up for the team at some point last season. Additionally, the team will receive the boost of the returns of Saintizaire and Williams after both players redshirted last season after playing key roles in the season prior.
About the Opponents – Carson-Newman will look to get the new season off on the right foot on its trip to Banner Elk this weekend. The Eagles went 15-14 overall and 8-12 in conference action last season after racking up 23 victories in the 2017-18 campaign. Historically, the Eagles have started quickly as they will be aiming to start 5-0 for the third straight season.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, will be in transition this season as they begin their first season as members of the South Atlantic Conference in all of their sports. As a member of the Mountain East last season, UVa-Wise went 9-20 overall and 6-16 in conference action. A player to watch this weekend for the Cavaliers is Briggs Parris, who was named to the Preseason All-SAC Second Team late last month. Parris averaged 16 points per game, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc in 2018-19.
Series History vs. Opponents – Carson-Newman and Lees-McRae have matched up 20 times over the years with the Eagles holding the 18-2 advantage in the series against the Bobcats. The last win over C-N for the Bobcats came in the 1995-96 season, 79-71. As for the series against UVa-Wise, this will be the first matchup since 2005-06.