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Originally published: 2014-01-01 01:46:19
Last modified: 2014-01-01 01:47:29

Canty ruled eligible for game Thursday

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Appalachian State's men's basketball team got some good news Tuesday when it found out that forward Jay Canty has been cleared to play.

Canty was academically ineligible to play the first semester, but was not cleared even after the semester was finished. Canty will be eligible to play Thursday at Duquesne. The Appalachian State released the news Tuesday afternoon.

Canty, a preseason all-Southern Conference selection, averaged 14.3 points per game last season. He led the Mountaineers and was 10th in the SoCon in scoring.

App State coach Jason Capel has said the past month that he did not know when Canty would return to the games, but was happy with how Canty has handled the situation.

"I wish I could, I don't know," Capel said of commenting on Canty's status following App State's win over Bluefield College (Va.) Monday. "I'll say it again. I'm proud of what Jay has done and proud of the effort he gave to all of the requirements he had. He did a fantastic job and I hope the matter is cleared up soon"

It's hoped that Canty can help the Mountaineers (4-8) pick up their first victory against Duquesne. App State is 0-8 against Division I programs, but is 4-0 against non-Division I Opponents.

The Mountaineers shot 67.2 percent in their 97-70 win over Bluefield, a NAIA program coached by former App State assistant Richard Morgan. App State got 23 points from guard Mike Neal after he made 8-of-9 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 from the 3-point line.

Neal, who stands 6-foot-2, made two dunks against Bluefield. Neal's last dunk was in the 2013 Southern Conference tournament against College of Charleston.

"I pulled everything out of my hat," Neal said. "I haven't dunked in a while. It's funny because we always joke around in practice with dunking."

Duquesne (6-5) has won three straight games, the latest being an 88-69 win at Texas-Pan American. All three games the Dukes won were on the road.

The Dukes get 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds from 6-foot-8 senior forward Ovie Soko. Another 6-8 forward, Dominique McKoy, adds 10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

App State is getting 13.8 points per game from guard Tab Hamilton, who scored 16 points against Bluefield. Neal averages 12.6 points, and 6-8 forward Michael Obacha pulls down 9.9 rebounds per game.

App State opens Southern Conference play on Jan. 6 at Elon. The Mountaineers return home Jan. 9 to face a UNC Greensboro team that notched a 55-52 victory over Virginia Tech and lost 68-64 to North Carolina State this season.

"Our main thing now is that it's a new year," Neal said. "I know everybody says that, but especially for us. It's a confidence thing for us. We're shooting the ball a lot better, especially the last couple of games."