The early non-conference season brings all kinds of different match-ups. There are schools playing guarantee games, going to multi-team events, playing against in state rivals, playing teams they have never played before, you name it.
When I go through and decide which of these games I will be seeing on a given weekend, there are always different factors to keep in mind besides the obvious factors like driving distance or game times. Then, I look at future schedules to make sure I won't be seeing a team too many times while I could be missing out on a nearby school for the whole season.
It just so happened for this weekend everything would work out perfectly. I would catch a game at Campbell on Friday night and crash at a friend's house outside of Raleigh. Saturday I would see two games in Elon in the afternoon and rush over to High Point to see the night game then return home to Myrtle Beach that night. After a few hours of sleep I would drive down to the Charleston Classic for the afternoon session and call it a weekend. Three days, four cities, six games, 570 miles; I love when a plan comes together.
Every plan has its hiccups though and I ran into a few on the trip to Campbell. I made the same drive on Monday, but still managed to make a few wrong turns. Then I had to wait for a train to cross in Bladenboro. Despite those small delays, I figured I would be in good shape since in the past I could park relatively close to Gore Arena and have a short walk. To my surprise, when I arrived in Buies Creek, the main lot was full and I had to park much further away, meaning I had to briskly jog to be able to get in before game time.
I could tell by the parking situation that there were going to be a lot more people in attendance then at Monday's game when the Camels lost to Northwestern State, but I was still surprised by the turnout. It could have been because it was a Friday, or the opponent was in-state Appalachian State, or because it was the last day of class before Thanksgiving break, but I was still glad to see it.
I was not too familiar with the Camels' opponent of Appalachian State since I had only seen them once last year in the SoCon tournament, but that team lost a lot of key players, so the Mountaineers would be giving a bunch of newcomers some big minutes. The early results did not seem to go so well since they were thrashed by High Point at home earlier in the week.
Campbell did not look too good either in their loss to Northwestern St
. It took a late run by the Camels to make the score look closer than the game actually was. I was interested to see how tonight's game would play out considering both team's early struggles.
It started really well for Campbell, as it looked like the pumped-up atmosphere really shook up ASU. The first two possessions were steals and breakaway dunks by Reco McCarter and then Darren White. The Mountaineers continued to chuck the ball around as they had five turnovers at the first media timeout while the Camels had a 14-5 advantage.
App State used the timeout to calm things down and once the emotion of the frenzied crowd died down, they started to chip into the lead and got it down to four midway through the half. Gore Arena would get excited again when Campbell went on another run, getting production from Andrew Ryan and Darien Hooker.
At the under eight minute timeout, the big screen panned to a section of students all dressed in orange and wearing sunglasses. There were several dozen kids along with the cheerleaders that broke out into a Gangnam Style flash mob
. Say what you will about the song, but it was pretty funny to watch and cool that the students took the time to plan it out.
I'm guessing the Mountaineers were in awe of what they just witnessed and that's why they let the Camels keep pouring on the points. Back-to-back McCarter threes pushed the lead to 40-25. ASU tried to keep up, but Campbell would answer each time and an emphatic dunk by McCarter before the half gave CU a dominating 55-39 lead.
Campbell was great in the first half and shot 65 percent, but could they keep up the efficiency? In short, yes they could as the second half turned into the Darren White show. White had been relatively quiet in the game and a half I had seen of him so far this year, but he exploded out of halftime with the Camels' first eight points. One of the baskets was a huge jam where he only took one step under the basket and skied upwards, almost hitting his head on the basket.
During this display from White, I figured I would grab a few more pictures for the recap. I am not the best at getting photos, but I do the best I can. I mentioned last year how I wanted to at least get a picture of a dunk, but never could get a great shot. This all changed when White stole another errant pass and rushed down the court all alone. I knew this would be my opportunity.
Not bad, as I caught White in mid-air as he threw down a dunk-competition worthy windmill.
I should have kept my camera out the whole game since it seemed like whenever ASU would make a small run, Campbell would end up getting a breakaway dunk to gain back the momentum. White was unstoppable as he ended up with 28 in the second half and a career-high 36 on the night.
That was a completely different Camel team than the one I saw on Monday. It may be due to the poor defense and sloppy play from Appalachian State, but Campbell looked very impressive in getting the 101-82 victory.