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Originally published: 2014-01-23 12:07:47
Last modified: 2014-01-23 12:08:33

Mountaineers face The Citadel tonight

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Appalachian State's men's basketball team won its first Southern Conference game last Saturday when it beat Georgia Southern 81-68.

The Mountaineers (5-13, 1-4 SoCon) will try to make it three in a row by facing two SoCon rivals within the next week of each other. The stretch begins Thursday night when they travel to Charleston, S.C., to face The Citadel.

Appalachian State returns to the road on Jan. 30 to take on UNC Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Both games tipoff at 7 p.m., and are available on WATA-AM, 1450 and on WKBC-FM 97.3.

Appalachian State's showdown with The Citadel pits the Mountaineers against the only team in the Southern Conference that does not have a league victory. The Citadel goes into the game with a 4-16 overall record, 0-5 in the SoCon.

The circumstances with UNCG are different. The Spartans beat App State 66-60 on Jan. 9 at the Holmes Center.

Appalachian State's win over Georgia Southern was not only the Mountaineers' first in the Southern Conference, it was their first over a Division I team.

"We've been sweating that for a long time," App State center Tommy Spagnolo said after the game. "It's a completely different feeling in the locker room, getting the win. It feels great. Hopefully it's a snowball effect, no doubt."

Appalachian State beat the Eagles despite not having leading scorer Jay Canty, who broke his hand in practice one day earlier. Canty leads the Mountaineers in scoring with 17.3 points per game in the four games he played since returning to the team from academic suspension.

App State got several solid performances from others in Canty's place. Spagnolo, who was put back into the starting lineup, scored 12 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in the game. Michael Obacha added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Mike Kobani scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds.

The trio helped the Mountaineers outrebound Georgia Southern 43-34.

"Before the game, we said to ourselves that settling for the first shot isn't going to win us the game," Obacha said. "In previous games, whenever we drive and take it to the basket, we score more. We only shoot ourselves out of games, so we should not settle for jump shots. We should attack."

App State guard Tab Hamilton scored a team-high 17 points. Point guard Chris Burgess added 15 points and guard Ty Toney scored 11 points, dished out four assists and pulled down four rebounds.

The Citadel has struggled lately by losing 13 of its last 14 games, although two of those games went into overtime. The Bulldogs' last victory was in 2013 when they beat Brevard College on Dec. 12.

The Citadel is led by Matt Van Soyc, who averages 15 points per game. Brian White scores at a 13.4 points per game clip, whole Austin Moore scores 12.2 points per game.

Kyle Cain, a junior forward, leads UNCG in scoring with 15.9 points per game. Cain is second in the SoCon in rebounding with 9.0 boards per game.

Freshman forward Tevon Saddler scores 12.4 points per game for the Spartans (10-10, 3-2).

Hamilton leads the Mountaineers in scoring with 13.3 points per game. Neal scores 10.3 points per game, while Obacha is third in the SoCon in rebounding with 8.9 boards per game.