Camels face Winthrop Sunday in Big South Championship final

Andrew Eudy
(Carlos Morales/BigSouthPhotos.com)
Andrew Eudy (Carlos Morales/BigSouthPhotos.com)

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ROCK HILL, S.C. – For the first time since 1994, Campbell has reached the Big South Conference Championship game.  The 7th-seeded Camels (17-16) won their 4th-straight outing Friday over Radford 66-50 to earn the right to face top seed Winthrop (25-6) Sunday at 1 p.m. in front of an ESPN-TV audience.

Sunday's winner will receive the Big South's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Chris Clemons became the 1st player in Big South tournament history to record back-to-back 33-point games when he led the Camels over Radford with 33 points (plus 9 rebounds and 4 assists).  Andrew Eudy added a career-high 14 points for the Camels, who improved to 5-0 all-time in Big South semifinal games.  Clemons had a Big South and school record 51 points in Thursday's win over 2nd seed UNC Asheville.

In a game where the lead changed 24 times, Winthrop outlasted Gardner-Webb 80-77 in OT in Friday's semifinal to earn its 4th-straight trip to the Big South title game.  The Eagles have finished as runner-up the last 3 years.

Keon Johnson scored 31 points for the 2nd-straight game Friday (joining Clemons as the only players to reach 30 in back-to-back Big South tournament games. Xavier Cooks added 23 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks. 

Notes:

  • Campbell guard Chris Clemons was named to the Big South all-conference 1st team and to the Big South all-academic team.  The nation's 3rd-leading scorer (24.4 ppg) has scored at least 20 points 24 times in 32 games this year, most in the Big South.  He has moved into 15th place on CU's all-time scoring list (1337, 8th in the Division I era (since '77-78) and has broken the school season scoring mark (781) previously set by 1987 Big South player of the year Clarence Grier (739). 
  • Campbell and Winthrop have met three times in Big South tournament play. CU defeated the Eagles in the 1989 semifinals at Rock Hill and 1994 quarters at Charleston.  Winthrop won in the 2012 quarterfinal round at Asheville.
  • The Camels lead the Big South (and rank 40th in the nation) in free throw percentage (.749) and are on pace to break the school season record (.722).
  • Winthrop defeated 8th-seeded Charleston Southern 90-78 in Thursday's quarterfinal before downing 4th seed Gardner-Webb 80-77 in overtime in Friday's semifinal round.
  • Sunday's game marks Campbell's fifth trip to the Big South final (1987, 1989, 1992, 1994).
  • Winthrop is making its 15th (and 4th-consecutive) appearance in the Big South final. The Eagles are 10-4 all-time in title games, but have lost the last 3.  Winthrop fell to Coastal Carolina in the '14 and '15 championship games at Conway, S.C., and to UNC Asheville (77-68) in last year's final at Buies Creek.
  • Campbell has posted a 13-13 record in Big South tourney play and has never lost a semi-final game in five tries (1987, 1989, 1992, 1994, 2017). 
  • In addition to his Big South tournament single-game tournament records for points (51), field goals (18) and three-pointers (8, tied) set in the quarterfinals against UNC Asheville, Chris Clemons has already broken the Big South full tournament marks for total points (111) and field goals (39) through 3 games. Mark Hailey of Winthrop scored 92 points (35 field goals) over 3 games in the 1993 Big South Championship.
  • Clemons (14-of-28) needs only 4 three-point field goals Sunday to break the tournament record of 17 set by Davon Marshall of Liberty in 4 games during the 2013 event.
  • Winthrop stands 13-3 at home this year and has won its last six outings at the Winthrop Coliseum.  CU is 8-9 away from home this season.
  • Since re-joining the league in 2011-12, Campbell is 5-6 all-time against Winthrop, 2-3 in games played at Rock Hill. 
  • On Jan. 14 at Buies Creek, Keon Johnson scored 22 points and Winthrop held off Campbell 72-63.  Xavier Cooks added 13 points, 9 rebounds.  Chris Clemons topped Campbell with 16 points, Kyre' Hamer added 15 and Shane Whitfield 12.
  • On Feb. 4 at Rock Hill, Keon Johnson scored a then career-high 39 points and Winthrop defeated Campbell 76-62.  Xavier Cooks added 15 points and 9 rebounds. Chris Clemons led Campbell with 24 points, while Moga Lado added 10 on 5-of-5 from the field off the bench.
  • Winthrop has won 24 of its last 27 home games against Big South opponents.  In addition to a 2015 New Year's Eve 90-83 setback against Campbell, the Eagles' other two losses came this season to Radford on Dec. 31 (82-80) and Jan. 28 to High Point (83-80 in OT).