VMI Basketball returns home for a brief one-game stop at Cameron Hall when it faces Western Carolina Saturday afternoon. It will be VMI’s lone home contest over a stretch of five late January games. The Keydets will be looking to snap a five-game skid after taking ETSU to the wire before falling 85-82 in Johnson City, Tennessee Thursday night. Western Carolina fell to UNCG, 69-60 Thursday night in Cullowhee, N.C. and is 5-15 overall, 2-5 SoCon. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. at Cameron Hall and will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Last Time Out: ETSU 85, VMI 82 - Thursday, Jan. 17
Despite a heroic effort to come back in the second half after trailing by 14 at the half, the VMI basketball team came up just short of victory as the host ETSU Bucs escaped with an 85-82 win over the Keydets Thursday night at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee. The rally came down to the final possession as VMI’s Bubba Parham shot a three-pointer with the clock winding down but the ball was tipped by ETSU’s Mladen Armus and the Keydets (6-12, 0-6) were unable to get another shot off. Parham finished the game with a game-high 25 points, his 16th career game with 20+ points. Other notables for the Keydets included sophomore Myles Lewis scoring 17 points, one off his career high as he tied a previous career high with nine rebounds on the night. Junior Will Miller returned to action for the first time in 14 games following injury and played 12 minutes for the Keydets. VMI shot 56.3 percent in the second half after shooting just 40 percent in the opening stanza. Sarju Patel (11) and Jake Stephens (10) also scored in double figures for the Keydets. ETSU was paced by 23 points from Daivien Williamson while Bo Hodges (17 points) and Tray Boyd III (13) also played significant roles.
Last Meeting with the Catamounts: Western Carolina 72, VMI 60 - February 8, 2018
VMI fell short in a 72-60 setback to visiting Western Carolina February 8, 2018 at Cameron Hall. The Keydets got off to a quick start, jumping ahead of the Catamounts by a 15-6 tally following a three by freshman Bubba Parham at the 15:15 mark. From there VMI went cold for the remainder of the half as the Keydets converted just two baskets and a few scattered free throws en route to 21 total points by the break. Western Carolina also struggled from the field by going 11-23 from the field and hit just four of 11 treys but managed to build a 29-21 lead going into halftime. VMI nearly doubled its production in points by logging 39 in the second half but continued to struggle from three-point range as the Keydets made just four of 20 attempts in the second half. The Keydets finished the game shooting 31 percent (21-67) from the field and 20 percent (7-34) from the arc. VMI was led by junior Austin Vereen and freshman Jordan Ratliffe as both scored 13 points while Parham finished with 12 points. The Catamounts were led by Deriece Parks’ 16 points while Halvorsen and Thomas provided 14 and 13 points, respectively, coming off the bench.
A win over Western Carolina would ...
-- Move VMI to 6-4 at home
-- Give VMI its first win in January
Series History – VMI vs. Western Carolina
This will be the 55th meeting between the teams that first met in 1978. WCU leads the series, 33-21, and has taken the last three meetings including wins 65-58 (Cullowhee, N.C.) and 72-60 (Lexington, Va.) last year. VMI last defeated the Catamounts, 79-78 on January 12, 2017 in Lexington.
Lewis Shines vs. Bucs
Sophomore forward Myles Lewis turned in a solid performance in Thursday’s 85-82 loss at ETSU missing his first double-double by a single rebound. Lewis hit 7 of 14 shots from the floor and finished with 17 points, one-point shy of his career-high 18 points. Lewis also tied a career-high in rebounds with nine versus ETSU. He has 10 double figures scoring games on the year.
Welcome Back, Will
Junior forward Will Miller returned to action Thursday night vs. ETSU after missing the previous 14 games with a knee injury. In his first game appearance since Nov. 11, Miller played 12 minutes and scored 2 points. The return was a welcomed sight for a VMI roster that has been depleted by injuries in 2018-19.
VMI entered Thursday’s ETSU game averaging 19.7 turnovers over its last three games, but committed just 12 turnovers against the Bucs, including four in the second half.