Chants face Liberty or death in Big South tourney opener

The Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team hopes home-court advantage goes a long way toward snapping a 20-year drought in the Big South Conference Basketball Tournament, which gets under way Tuesday at the new HTC Center.

After winning three out of four conference tournaments from 1990-93, the Chanticleers (14-14 overall, 9-7 Big South) have struggled in the annual event and haven’t won the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament since. But the Chants also have something going for them – a chance to play in front of home fans in their new gym.

Coastal opens up VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference Championship play by taking on Liberty University at 8 p.m. Tuesday evening inside The HTC Center. The Chants are 12-3 at home this season while the Flames are just 3-11 on the road. However, the Chants are 0-3 against the Flames (11-20, 6-10) in Big South Tournament play.

The Flames opened the season losing 10 of their first 11 games. They enter the tournament having won three of their last six games including a 73-56 victory over Radford in their final regular season game. LU is led by Big South Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year John Caleb Sanders who is averaging 13.8 points per game.

Coastal senior Kierre Greenwood became the winningest four-year player in Coastal Carolina men’s basketball history with CCU’s win over Presbyterian on Feb. 13. Greenwood has now been a part of 89 wins which is the most by any four-year player in Coastal Carolina history. CCU’s record with Greenwood on the roster is 89-39.

Fellow senior Anthony Raffa has enjoyed similar success since transferring to Coastal as a sophomore. The All-Big South first teamer leads the Chants in scoring and looks to close out his college career with a Big South title.

The Chants have out-rebounded all but six opponents this season. CCU leads the Big South and is 24th in the NCAA in rebounding margin at +6.1. Coastal has two players ranked in the top-20 in rebounding in the league, seventh-ranked El Hadji Ndieguene and 16th-ranked Michel Enanga.

The showdown between Coastal and Liberty tips off at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are available at the HTC Center ticket office.

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