Jacob Pritchett

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Jacob is a junior at UNC-Charlotte. His major is Communications-Media and his minor is Journalism. He currently works within the athletics/media relations department as a student assistant and writes for the Niner Times.

A Look Ahead

The men’s team breaks a huddle against Wake Forest. Photo by Chris Crews

Over Christmas break, students get to enjoy some off time with their families and friends after a long fall semester and a week full of exams. For student-athletes, it’s a different story. The men’s and women’s basketball team members stay on-campus to practice and get better over break, same as Thanksgiving break.

Men’s Basketball

Over exam week, the men play a game at Chattanooga on Dec. 10. After that, they’ll have a little over a week off before their first of five games over Christmas break. Their schedule is as follows:

  • 12/18 – @ ECU
  • 12/21 – @ USF
  • 12/30 – @ Old Dominion
  • 1/4 – @ North Texas
  • 1/6 – @ Rice

This six-game road trip is going to be a tough test for the team, with conference play beginning on Dec. 30 when they take on Old Dominion. At 3-5, the men’s team has to get hot over the next couple of games before starting conference play.

In his post-game press conference after the game against Wake Forest, coach Mark Price said, “We have to get our older group, our returning guys, playing better. It’s baffling right now. We have to find a way to get everybody going. It’s a struggle right now.”

You could hear the frustration in his voice. Guys that produced efficiently last year, including forward Austin Ajukwa and guard Jon Davis, just aren’t there this year.

Ajukwa was the second-leading scorer from last season at 11.4 points per game and is only averaging 6.6 points per game so far this year. Davis is also in a bit of a slump this season, averaging only 14.3 points per game as opposed to 19.6 last season. However, Davis could turn it around in C-USA contests. Last season  against Old Dominion he poured in a career-high 35 points, including a game-winning jump shot. Following that performance, he was named Conference USA Player of the Week. Hopefully he can bring that same intensity and results this year.

When they aren’t playing in games, they’re practicing for them. After the 49ers’ loss to Wake Forest on Dec. 5, coach Price said simply, “We’re just not playing good basketball right now.” The team looked sloppy and almost lost in the contest. They had 20 turnovers compared to only seven assists. They’ll have to start moving and controlling the ball better if they want to win games.

Women’s Basketball

Over exam week, the women will also play a game, but their contest is on Dec. 7 against Arkansas. After, they’ll have 10 days off before their first of six games over the holiday break. Their schedule is as follows:

  • 12/18 – @ Wake Forest
  • 12/21 – @ Davidson
  • 12/28 – vs. South Carolina State
  • 12/30 – vs. Mercer
  • 1/4 – vs. Southern Miss
  • 1/6 @ Old Dominion

The men aren’t so lucky, but the women get a nice three-game homestand over their break. It will be nice for them to have a couple of games at home over the holiday. The women’s basketball team is currently 2-1 at home this season and will look to improve on that moving forward. They’ve struggled a little bit outside of Halton Arena, with a combined 1-4 away/neutral-site record. They open up their conference schedule on the road, so they’ll have to figure things out before then if they’re going to be successful.

The women need to trust in Coach Consuegra’s “team-first” identity and ride their preseason All-Conference USA forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers. Jamison-Myers, along with leading rebounder Dara Pearson, are a force down-low together, but they’ve got to help buckle down on the defensive end. The 49ers average 64.1 points per game while their opponents average 66.4. The difference in a win and a loss can be one defensive possession, so Charlotte has to stay disciplined and take it one play at a time.

 

November Report: Women’s Basketball

Head Coach Cara Consuegra during the Rutgers game. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49er women’s basketball team sports a 2-5 record through their first month of play. It’s been a very up-and-down first part of the season, but with coach Cara Consuegra at the helm, they can definitely right the ship and get back to their winning ways.

Season Recap

  • 11/10 Charlotte opened the season with a 75-72 victory against Duquesne featuring a 10-point fourth quarter comeback. Redshirt senior Nyilah Jamison-Myers had a team-high 18 points to lead the way while sophomore Dara Pearson posted a then career-high 11 rebounds, a record she’s since broken.
  • 11/12– Then, Charlotte traveled to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. In a 14-point defeat, senior Amaya Ransom poured in 18 points on 3-8 (37.5 percent) shooting from deep, but the Niners shot only 37 percent from the field as a team, while Wisconsin shot 48 percent.
  • 11/16–  Charlotte would then host Rutgers in a Thursday night match-up resulting in a 23-point loss. A slow start was the doom of the 49ers in this one, falling behind 22-6 at the end of the first quarter. Pearson did break her previous career-high of 11 rebounds, posting 12 in this game. Freshman Octavia Wilson also scored a career-high 21 points, including an impressive 15-19 (78.9 percent) from the free throw line.
  • 11/18– A couple of days later, the Niners would get back to the right side of the win/loss column, defeating UNC-Asheville, 51-47. This win moved Charlotte back to .500 for the year. Junior Laia Raventos led the team with 19 points on 7-14 (50%) shooting.
  • 11/23– Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Charlotte participated in the Puerto Rico Clasico, where they met coach Consuegra’s Alma mater, Iowa. The Niners would drop the contest, 77-64. Ransom posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Raventos scored a team-high 18 points. Charlotte was outscored 23-8 in the second quarter after leading by 12 at the end of the first and couldn’t recover.
  • 11/25– In Charlotte’s second and final game of the Puerto Rico Clasico, they suffered a heart-breaking loss to North Dakota State, 71-70. With just over 10 seconds to play, Ransom hit a go-ahead three pointer to give the Niners a 70-68 lead before NDSU’s Madison Guebert knocked down the game-winning triple at the horn.
  • 11/30– Charlotte rounded out the month of November with a contest in Greenville against East Carolina but fell short, 58-55. The Niners held a slim three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter after outscoring the Pirates by nine in the third, but couldn’t hold on. Raventos struggled in this one, compiling 10 turnovers throughout the game.

Analysis

The Charlotte 49er women’s basketball is certainly missing star guard Grace Hunter, who transferred to NC State this past off-season. Last year, Hunter averaged 16.6 points per game to go along with 7.6 rebounds and was a force for the team. She seemed to be involved in every play somehow and whenever something needed to be done, she did it.

Since Hunter left, a newcomer has burst onto the scene for Consuegra and the women’s team, freshman guard Octavia Wilson. Wilson averages 11.1 points per game, third-highest on the team, but her real expertise is on the defensive end. She has become the premier on-ball defender for the team, always being the first to pick up the opposing ballhandler as soon as they cross the half-court line. She currently has eight steals on the year, second on the team.

If Wilson and her counterparts continue to build chemistry and buy into Consuegra’s “team first” mentality, this team will be a force to be reckoned with.

November Report: Men’s Basketball

 

Najee Garvin drives up court. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

The Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team wrapped up the November portion of their 2017-18 schedule with a 3-3 record. The record could be worse, but it could also be better. The team left several plays, and maybe even a couple wins, on the floor.

Season Recap

  • 11/10: Charlotte opened up the season against Methodist University, a Division III basketball program. Charlotte reflected that by lighting up the scoreboard for a Halton-record 116 points and a 40-point victory, a good way to start any season.
  • 11/13: Then, the 49ers hit the road for a contest against Oklahoma State. Charlotte suffered an 18-point defeat at the hands of the Cowboys, but didn’t help themselves much in terms of shooting. A slow start in the first half, featuring a 6-23 (26.09 percent) shooting performance for the team, dug them a hole that they just couldn’t get out of.
  • 11/18: Charlotte would return back to Halton to face College of Charleston, a team projected to dance this season. In a “see-where-you’re-at” game, Charlotte again struggled to come out the gates running. They trailed by 17 with just under six minutes left in the first half. They would make an effort at the comeback, but couldn’t seem to close the gap to more than eight or nine. Charlotte also struggled with perimeter defending, allowing Charleston’s Joe Chealey to score 29 points, including 5-7 (71.4 percent) from three-point range. Charleston shot over 45 percent as a team from beyond the arc.
  • 11/20: Desperate to get back to winning ways, the 49ers battled Presbyterian in Halton Arena just a couple of days later. In what turned out to be a nine-point victory, junior guard Jon Davis found his stroke and poured in a season-high 24 points and added seven assists. Davis also played a whopping 39 minutes, 10 more than anyone else on the team that night.
  • 11/24: The 49ers welcomed in-state foe High Point University to Charlotte and defeated them, 70-67 to move to 3-2. The Niners again struggled defending the opposing guards, allowing High Point’s Brandonn Kamga to score 26 points on 11-16 (68.8 percent) shooting.
  • 11/28: The Battle for the Hornet’s Nest. Charlotte vs. Davidson. In a 15-point loss, Charlotte couldn’t find much offensively. Davis shot 2-11 from the floor and scored only five points. Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge and Kellan Grady scored 25 points and 22 points to lead the Wildcats to victory.

Analysis

Charlotte has got to find their identity on both the offensive and defensive side of the floor and stick with it. At times, they go three and four minutes without a basket and that transitions into fast break opportunities for the opposition. If they find better shots and create more opportunities, that will slow the game down and allow Charlotte to find a rhythm.

Also, the slow starts have ailed the 49ers all year. It puts them in a hole and gets them out of their original gameplan. With such a young team, falling behind early does them no good. If they can hit their shots early and play disciplined defense from the tip, that’s the difference in wins and losses right there.

Most importantly, Jon Davis has not been the Jon Davis we all know and love. Last year, any time the team needed anything, whether it was a game-winning shot or someone to get the offense going, Davis was there to answer the call every single time. In the off-season, NBA scouts and GMs alike were drooling over Davis’ potential. He was invited to Chris Paul’s camp in Winston-Salem along with other top guards around the country, including UNC’s Joel Berry III. He also attended the Nike Invitational out in California, so there’s no question the talent he has. He’s in some sort of slump and he’s got to get out of it. When he does, the offense will take care of itself because there are so many weapons for Davis to choose from, whether it be sharpshooting freshman Ryan Murphy, Davis’ roommate Andrien White or the Serbian tandem in Milos Supica and Luka Vasic. It’s not normal for Charlotte to struggle scoring the ball. They are young, and it will eventually start to click.

Charlotte didn’t start off the month of December on the right foot, losing to James Madison on the 2nd. However, they have a great opportunity Tuesday, Dec. 5 against Wake Forest to get the ball rolling and hit their strides. At 3-4, the season is still young and the corrections can still be made, but it starts now.

 

Preview: 49ers, Demon Deacons to Clash in Halton

Jon Davis looks for an open teammate. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers are set to play the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in Halton Arena.

Last Time Out

A year ago on Wednesday, these two teams clashed in Winston-Salem and the Demon Deacons defeated the 49ers, 91-74. Senior Braxton Ogbueze led the charge for Charlotte offensively with 20 points. Jon Davis added in 16 points and a team-high in rebounds (5), assists (4) and steals (3). The Niners shot 45 percent from the field for the game, but only 28 percent from deep.

Wake Forest was led by John Collins with 22 points. Collins also collected an impressive 15 rebounds, by far a game-high. Bryant Crawford followed Collins with 15 points.

Scouting the Opposition

Collins, now in the NBA, will not be a threat in this year’s game. Charlotte transfer and Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods, however, will be. Last year, Woods had 12 points on 5-9 shooting. This year, he is averaging 15.6 points per game and shooting 45.6 percent from the field. Even more impressive, he’s shooting 88.9 percent from the free throw line, so in a late-game situation, he’s not the one to be fouling. Also returning with Woods from last year, Crawford is leading the team with 16.3 points per game. He shoots it even better from the line than Woods does at an eye-popping 92 percent. These are two guys Charlotte has to focus on when watching film and heading into the match-up Tuesday night.

Charlotte’s Keys to the Game

Get Jon going. It can’t be said enough. He is the leader of the team and they go as he goes. He’s got to come out strong from the start and, metaphorically, punch Wake Forest right in the mouth. Get them on their heels and keep the pedal to the metal all game long. Fall behind early, and we’ve seen it all year, the outcome will probably not be in Charlotte’s favor.

Play disciplined defense. Woods and Crawford are going to look to score. Both being guards, Davis and Andrien White will probably be their match-ups. White is known for being one of Charlotte’ best on-ball defenders, so he’s got to show that tomorrow to give Charlotte a chance to win the game. So far this season, opposing guards haven’t had much of a problem scoring, so that trend has got to stop Tuesday.

Get other guys involved. Davis doesn’t have to play hero ball. He has some serious weapons at his disposal. Forward Najee Garvin has shown how he worked in the off-season, displaying much improvement in his jump shot and post-scoring abilities. Also, redshirt guard Ryan Murphy can shoot the lights out if he gets going. The more Davis gets these guys involved, the more opportunities will open up for him and that’s a scary thought for opposing teams.

The game will air on Stadium’s Facebook stream or you can listen on the radio at ESPN 730 The Game. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

New season, new Niners

Jon Davis leaps towards the rim. Photo by Pooja Pasupula

The Charlotte 49ers have a lot of new faces taking the court this year. Head coach Mark Price did a great job in the offseason of addressing positional and team needs and so far, it’s showing on the court.

Through the first three games, there is already a difference in scoring outside of Jon Davis, a junior this year. Other players are stepping up, like sophomore forward Najee Garvin, who’s averaging 11.3 points per game this season. Garvin also scored a career-high 19 points against College of Charleston, where he led all Charlotte scorers.

Monday against Presbyterian, that continued. This time, a new face answered the call: Redshirt freshman Ryan Murphy. He scored a career-high 11 points on 4-7 shooting, including 3-5 from deep. Davis did score a season-high 24 points, though, helping Charlotte defeat the Blue Hose, 83-74.

Alongside Garvin, Milos Supica, a freshman from Serbia, is averaging 10.3 points per game. His most impressive outing thus far came in the season-opener against Methodist, where he poured in 18 points on a scorching 8-9 (89%) shooting percentage. The Niners also scored 116 points in that game, a Halton Arena record.

Charlotte also brought in another Serbian in Luka Vasic, who’s proven he can do a little bit of everything. The 6-8 guard was one of the top prospects out of Connecticut and is added height to a team that was relatively small last season. He’s second on the team in assists through three games and is also averaging four points per game along with three rebounds.

Last year, it seemed that all Charlotte was missing was a force inside. Price realized this and went out and got a JUCO transfer in 6-10, 260 lb center Jailan Haslem. Haslem’s film looks good, but his start to the season has been a little slow, only averaging 2.3 rebounds per game. Still, it is early and hopefully he can prove to be the big man the Niners need to push them over the hump.

To compliment Haslam, Charlotte signed a freshman out of South Mecklenburg HS, Bryant Thomas. Standing 6-9, the lanky forward adds some interior help on the defensive side. At South Meck, he averaged a double-double with 17.9 points and 10 rebounds. Even more impressive, he averaged 7.7 blocks per game which led the nation, according to MaxPreps.

The clear difference this year is that Charlotte is a lot deeper this year as opposed to last. The 49ers only had about six or seven players they could rely on last year to produce, but this year the bench is averaging roughly 30 points per game, led by Supica and redshirt senior Austin Ajukwa.

A returner from last season, Ajukwa is looking to build on an impressive junior campaign. As the season went on, Ajukwa became the second scoring option behind Davis and filled the role nicely, averaging 11.4 points per game. He kicked it up a notch during conference play, where he dropped a career-high 30 points against FIU last February.

Being a relatively young team, Charlotte has struggled a little bit with ball control through the first few games. Luckily, it’s a long season and the newcomers can look to leaders like senior forward Hudson Price, son of coach Price, for leadership. Hopefully these players can continue to build chemistry, find their role and produce at a high level throughout the season.

Following Monday’s win, Charlotte improves to 2-2. The 49ers will play host to High Point University on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.

Niners lose in season opener, 24-7

Charlotte against EMU last season. NT File Photo

The Charlotte 49ers (0-1) dropped their season-opening contest to the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-0), 24-7 at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, Mich. The Niners are now on a four-game losing skid that began last season against Rice.

Charlotte began the game on a positive note, stopping the Eagles on their first offensive possession with a fumble recovered by Juwan Foggie. Then, redshirt junior quarterback Hasaan Klugh threw a pick six and the Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

On the next drive, Klugh responded with a 21-yard strike to redshirt senior wide receiver Trent Bostick to tie it at 7-7. That would serve as the lone score for the Niners. In his first game back from a redshirting last season, Bostick led the way for Charlotte wide receivers with three receptions for 34 yards.

Charlotte’s defense forced another turnover later in the first half with an interception from Ed Rolle. The group is looking to remain the leading defense in takeaways in Conference USA. They led last season with 16. Rolle is also carrying over success from the 2016 slate: he led the team in interceptions with three.

Charlotte found some success on the ground, outrushing the Eagles, 166 yards to 126 yards. Alongside Klugh’s 101 yards rushing, sophomore running back Robert Washington rushed for 49 yards.

After the first quarter touchdown, every time the 49er offense seemed to make a good play, it would be refuted by a penalty. Charlotte ended the night with 11 penalites for 112 yards. Eastern Michigan capitalized on the  good field position due to Charlotte’s penalties.

The Eagles racked up 10 penalties during the game for 70 yards.

Through the lack of scoring, Klugh racked up 107 yards rushing, proving just how much of a dual-threat he really is. Klugh also threw for 114 yards and one touchdown.

One thing the Eagles have over the 49ers is experience at the healm of the offense. EMU is led by their 5th-year senior quarterback Brogan Roback. Roback threw for 267 yards, completing 22 of his 31 passes.

Following Charlotte’s four play, 73 yard drive to tie it at 7, Eastern Michigan drove right down the field on a methodical 11 play, 80 yard drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown run from Eagle running back Ian Eriksen. The Eagles wouldn’t look back from there and added a field goal and another rushing touchdown to create a final score of 24-7.

Looking forward, Charlotte has another tough road test Week 2 at #20 Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game can be viewed on WatchESPN. Charlotte’s home opener will follow the next week against Klugh’s former team, North Carolina A & T.

A look back: the recap of the 2016 football season

QB Hassan Klugh returns to the field this Friday in Eastern Michigan. NT File Photo

Before we kick off the 2017-18 campaign for Charlotte football, let’s take a look back at how last season went.

The season started off with a tough road contest against then #21 Louisville and the Niners dropped the contest, 70-14. Charlotte returned home the next week for their first season victory and lone home win against Elon, 47-14.

The Niners dropped their next two contests against Temple and Old Dominion before sophomore quarterback Hasaan Klugh took the reigns of the offense heading into the Florida Atlantic game. Klugh went on to throw for 223 yards and three touchdowns complimented by 54 rushing yards and a touchdown, an impressive first start for the young quarterback. Charlotte defeated FAU 28-23 for their first conference victory of the season and the first C-USA win in program history.

Charlotte added two more huge victories to their resumé against Marshall and Southern Miss, both away games.

With three games left in the season, Charlotte football was sporting a 4-5 overall record, sitting two wins shy of a bowl berth with Rice, Middle Tennessee and UTSA standing in the way. The Niners jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead against Rice  before watching it slip away in a 22-21 loss, putting a hole in the bowl berth sails.

The following Saturday, the inaugural class, or ‘First Class,’ would play their last game at Jerry Richardson Stadium. The two teams traded blows before Charlotte fell to Middle Tennessee, 38-31, officially ending any hopes of going bowling in 2016. The first class had just one more game together.

In the season finale, Charlotte traveled to San Antonio, Tx. to take on UTSA. Despite a Charlotte FBS record receiving day for WR Austin Duke (115 yards, TD), the Niners dropped their final game and finished the season with a 4-8 overall record, including a 3-5 Conference USA record.

Just barely missing a bowl berth in 2016, Hasaan Klugh and the new-look 49ers are poised for another run at it this season. The 49ers are away the first two weeks of competition, traveling to Eastern Michigan and Kansas State. Charlotte will return home to face North Carolina A & T, Klugh’s former team, on September 16 at 6 p.m. under the lights of Jerry Richardson Stadium.

Niners fall against Bulldogs, 1-0

    1. Virginia Lingo strikes the ball. NT File Photo

The Charlotte 49ers (1-0-2) lost to the Georgia Bulldogs (2-0-1) in a match at Transamerica Field in Charlotte on Friday night.

Coming off a victory against UNCG on Monday, the Niners couldn’t seem to find the back of the net, despite firing off 13 shots to Georgia’s 11. Charlotte also had five corners while Georgia had nine.

The 49ers came close to scoring several times, including a rocket off the foot of senior midfielder Virginia Lingo from the top of the box that ended in a fingertip save.

In the 56th minute, Georgia scored their lone goal off of a corner that Bulldog defender Caroline Chipman deflected into the net.

“It was a pretty evenly matched game, I thought,” said head coach John Cullen. “Both teams had spells where they were on top and I thought we played particularly well in the first half. You could see at about halftime it was going to be a one goal game.”

Despite the loss, Charlotte’s back nine was impressive throughout the game and are poised to have a great season defensively.

Charlotte is set to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Sunday in Winston-Salem. The Deacs defeated Georgia, 1-0 earlier this season and they pulled a 3-2 upset over No. 3 South Carolina Thursday night. The matchup between Wake Forest and Charlotte can be viewed on ACC Network Extra and Watch ESPN, kick-off is set for 1 p.m.

 

Niners fall to Winthrop, 3-2

Charlotte’s catcher Harris Yett taking off his helmet. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers fell to the Winthrop Eagles, 3-2 Tuesday night at Mariam-Hayes Stadium. The 49ers held a 2-0 lead heading into the top of the ninth and then surrendered three runs that ultimately led to their defeat.

In the second inning, senior TJ Nichting connected with his first hit of the game and landed on first base with a single to open up the home-half and advanced to second on a throwing error from the Winthrop right fielder. Then, fellow senior Logan Sherer squared up a single to left field to score Nichting and give the Niners an early 1-0 lead. Nichting scored both runs for Charlotte in the game and accounted for half of the team’s hits.

Fast forward to the seventh inning, still a 1-0 game and Nichting gets on base with his third hit of the game, which were all singles. Nichting then advanced to second, but this time on a passed ball and afterwards, stole third. A few batters later, redshirt sophomore Harris Yett chopped a grounder that scored Nichting to put Charlotte up 2-0 heading into the homestretch of the game.

Pitching couldn’t finish the job for the Niners and after three walks and three hits for Winthrop, Charlotte trailed 3-2 and couldn’t muster up a tying run in the ninth.

Charlotte falls to 16-14 on the season and Winthrop improves to 16-14.

NEXT TIME OUT: The Charlotte 49ers now look ahead to a three-game weekend series with the Florida Atlantic Owls. First pitch on Friday is set for 6:00 p.m. with fireworks to follow after the game.

PREVIEW: A date with the Blue Raiders

Anthony Vanhook driving to the rack. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (11-12, 5-7 C-USA) will hit the road and travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for a showdown with the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (21-4, 11-1 C-USA). The Blue Raiders currently sit atop the Conference USA standings, while Charlotte checks in at the 10th spot.

The two teams met in the conference tournament last year, a contest which saw Middle Tennessee advance, 79-61. The only time the teams have met in Murfreesboro, however, it was a much closer affair. The Blue Raiders snuck by the Niners, 72-69. Middle Tennessee leads the all-time series against Charlotte, 5-1, including five straight victories.

Last Time Out

Charlotte continues their road trip after dropping a game against UAB, 82-69, earlier this week. Sophomore guard Jon Davis poured in 24 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Davis continues his surge through Conference USA opponents and remains the conference’s leading scorer at 20 points per game. As a team, Charlotte is averaging 78.4 points per game in conference, good for third in the league.

Keys to the Game

First and foremost, Charlotte must spread the wealth. It’s no secret that the team is at their best when they’re hitting from behind the three-point line. Everyone, including Middle Tennessee, knows that Davis is going to come to play every night, so other players like junior forward Austin Ajukwa, senior guard Braxton Ogbueze and sophomore guard Andrien White will prove to be key members of the offense this Saturday. If White and Ogbueze find the hot hand early, it will open up the post for Ajukwa’s infamous fade-away jumper, but it will also spread the defense and create driving lanes for Davis, who is a spectacular finisher at the rim as we all know.

On the other side of the floor, the 49ers need to find a way to help themselves out with some defensive stops. Senior forward Anthony Vanhook, who returned from injury for Thursday’s game against UAB, is back as Charlotte’s top rebounder at 6.0 per game. Vanhook, along with Ajukwa and freshman forward Najee Garvin will have to make a conscious effort to find a body, box out and crash the boards to minimize Middle Tennessee’s second chance opportunities.

Middle Tennessee Scouting Report

The Blue Raiders are averaging 73.3 points per game as a team, while holding their opponents to just 64.4 points per game. The team has three players averaging 15+ points per game: senior forward Reggie Upshaw (15.4), junior guard Giddy Potts (15.9) and their leading scorer, senior forward JaCorey Williams (17.4). Since he is a forward, expect either Vanhook or Ajukwa to be defending Williams in the game. Williams is also the team’s leading rebounder with 7.1 per game, so if Charlotte can find a way to contain him on the boards and in the scoring column, that will give them their best shot to win the game.

A Look Ahead

It’s still about a month out, but the conference tournament is coming. It’s not too late, and the 49ers have a great opportunity to make some noise and pull off an upset this weekend. If there’s a need for extra motivation, Charlotte has a bone to pick with the Blue Raiders as they are the team that ended the Niners season a year ago.

Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m. in the Murphy Center and the game can be streamed live on Campus Insiders.

49ers take aim at FAU

Jon Davis driving attempting to finish at the rim over two Old Dominion defenders. Photo by Chris Crews

The Charlotte 49ers (10-10, 4-5 C-USA) will return home Thursday night at 7 p.m. against Florida Atlantic (6-13, 2-6 C-USA) after a short two-game road trip that saw the team go 1-1. Last Thursday, the Niners defeated North Texas, 82-81, and on Saturday they dropped a contest against Rice, 67-84, to round out the week.

This is the first meeting this season between the two teams as Charlotte tries to pull even in conference play. Last time they met, the Owls took down the Niners, 82-77. Last time FAU traveled to Halton Arena, however, Charlotte won, 86-61 on Jan. 29, 2015. Charlotte leads the all-time series 2-1.

An Offensive Showcase

This season, sophomore guard Jon Davis has been money for Charlotte all year long. Last time the 49ers were home, Davis capped a 35-point performance with a game-winning jump shot to beat Old Dominion, 74-72. Davis boasts an impressive 19.6 points per game scoring average. Forward Austin Ajukwa has proved to be a nice off-season addition for Mark Price and Co., providing a spark on offense with 10.4 points per game, taking some pressure off of the young Davis. Offense has been the focal-point for Charlotte all season.

In conference play, the Niners are second in points per game at 80.2, tied for first in free throw percentage at 77.6 percent and third in three-point field goals made at 8.2 per game. As you can tell, scoring is not a problem.

FAU at a Glimpse

Looking at FAU, they’re coming off of an 83-65 road win against Florida International on Jan. 26. Redshirt senior guard Adonis Filer leads the team in scoring at 10.3 points per game, so it will be a good point guard match-up against Davis. As a team, the Owls score 70.7 points per game and shoot 41.6 percent from the field. Redshirt junior center Ronald Delph leads the team in rebounding at 7.3 per game to go along with 8.9 points per game.

Charlotte will have to put in a team effort to keep Dalph off of the boards and protect the paint. If they can do so, look for the Niners to get out in transition and put up another high-scoring game. A win puts Charlotte above .500 and in position to make a run with the Conference USA Tournament coming up in March.