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UNC Asheville, Longwood Win in Exhibition Tune Ups

Both Asheville and Longwood took the hardwood for tune up games on Saturday and both came away with closer than expected wins.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Asheville Downs Brevard 76-64

Nick McDevitt's Asheville Bulldogs took the floor for the first time in the post Andrew Rowsey era on Saturday and got a challenging game against Division II Brevard, a team picked to finish last in the preseason South Atlantic Conference poll. The Bulldogs starting lineup consisted of redshirt junior Will Weeks, sophomores Kevin Vannatta and Ahmad Thomas, and freshmen Dwayne Sutton and Dylan Smith.

A key thing to watch for UNCA is who becomes the Bulldogs primary ball-handler. Vannatta struggled a bit turning the ball over 3 times while going 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-5 from three for just 4 points. Ahmad Thomas picked up the slack a bit though with 5 assists and 11 points.

Louisville native and Dwayne Sutton was the Bulldogs top scorer, as the freshman posted 17 points and 10 rebounds on the day. Junior David Robertson came off the bench for to lead the Bulldogs in minutes and finished with 16 points of his own. Will Weeks looked good as well 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

One thing of note is that Asheville big man Giacomo Zilli only played 9 minutes.

McDevitt after the game:

"Overall I was fairly pleased with our performance. Brevard has a good basketball team and it forced us to have to play well, which is what you want in your scrimmage or exhibition games. It's great to get in front of the home fans, particularly for our young players, and get the jitters out. It's different when you are out there in front of the fans for the first time...As a team, I thought we were a little too passive at times. I don't want us settling for open threes when we can sometimes work the ball and find something better. We have to do a better job at the free throw line as well. We shot 75 percent from the line in our scrimmage but 55 percent tonight. I was telling our team that small things like shooting free throws can change the momentum and feel of the game." (via UNCAbulldogs.com)

Longwood Holds On Against Crosstown Rival 71-68

At first glance it looks like Longwood should be worried about defeating a Division III team by just three points. Understand though that this is not your typical exhibition game and Longwood was without five starting caliber players in Tra'Vaughn White, Leron Fisher, Shaquille Johnson, Damarion Geter, and Jason Pimentel.  The Lancer's now routinely open their season with an exhibition against crosstown rival Hampden-Sydney, a team Longwood dispatched by 35 points last year.

In a soldout Willett Hall Longwood quickly went down 7-0 and eventually forced a timeout with 15:49 after a Jake Duncan three to give the Tigers a ten point advantage. Duncan, an NJIT transfer, was the biggest reason Longwood never lead in the first half as he dropped 18 points in the first half courtesy of a 6-for-9 performance from three. Longwood didn't have a guard that could drive due to the absence of key players and had trouble spreading the floor in the first half. Also, big man Lotanna Nwogbo was a bit tentative in the first half after getting into foul trouble against the smaller Tigers a year ago.

The outside shooting of Kanayo Obi-Rapu and freshman addition Chris Shields quickly erased Longwood's four point halftime deficit. Shields and junior DJ Allen bolstered the Lancers in the second half posting 21 points together. Allen finished with his first career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Nwogbo and Drexel transfer Khris Lane both had 7 rebounds apiece in the second half that also turned the tide in this rivalry. Longwood held HSC to just 28.6% shooting in the second half to pull away for a victory that was more comfortable than it looks on paper.

The key takeaway here for the Lancers is that they have some time to get healthy and eventually get some other pieces back that aren't currently part of the roster. Longwood opens with two non-Division I opponents which makes things a little easier on the Lancers and provides good experience for a current rotation of key players who will likely morph more into role players down the stretch. At the very least, Chris Shields looked like a guy who could be an all-Freshman team level player if given the playing time this season.

Jayson Gee after the game:

"I thought our guys showed resiliency and some mental toughness. DJ Allen was terrific. He forced some key turnovers when he was guarding Duncan in the second half. He played hard, and I was really proud of him. I was impressed with Isaac Belton, who came in and did some nice things for us after having a good week of practice. He got some key steals and a dunk that got us going. The reality is, I thought our guys stepped up when called upon."(via LongwoodLancers.com)