Game #9-511: Temple Owls at Charlotte 49ersFebruary 24, 2013 4:00 pm
Prior to this season, I have not attended many Charlotte basketball games. This game against Temple would be my sixth time at Halton Arena this season. I have enjoyed going to Charlotte this season as a way to acquaint myself with a higher mid-major program in the region. Charlotte's student section is probably the second best in the Carolinas after College of Charleston. But outside their student section, I already knew who the 49ers' biggest fan was. His name is Paul Buchanan, a big fan known by his catch phrase of "Uh Huh" that can be seen at any sporting event in the Charlotte area. One challenge that was mentioned before the season but never posted was to write a story about a team's Superfan. So I will do that here, as one has to mention Buchanan when talking about the atmosphere for Charlotte 49ers sporting events.
The first time I spotted Buchanan was when I was at a high school playoff game six years ago in Winston-Salem. I went to see Trinity High School from just south of High Point play Concord High School from northeast of Charlotte in a neutral site third round game at Atkins High School. Concord won the game handily, and I saw one guy who seemed a bit crazy who was happily cheering on Concord standing atop the gym making himself noticed in the sellout crowd of 1,500. I would not fully appreciate who that guy was until he came to root for UNCC's baseball team that June in a NCAA Regional at South Carolina. Buchanan constantly talked trash with opposing fans the entire game that he punctuated with the phrase he carried around, "Uh Huh!" Buchanan was wearing a t-shirt, cap, and held signs that all read "Uh Huh!" He made himself most visible when Charlotte was playing N.C. State when there were fewer fans from the host school at South Carolina's now demolished Sarge Frye Field. Buchanan still made is presence known among the Gamecock faithful when Charlotte reached the regional final against South Carolina, which was won by the Gamecocks. Since then, I have been able to spot Buchanan at a number of different sporting events in the Charlotte metro area. He always attends the 49ers' basketball games provided they do not conflict with Concord High School football games early in the season. In the summer he is devoted to local minor league baseball, mostly attending Class A Kannapolis Intimidator games but I have seen him lately at the AAA Charlotte Knights of Fort Mill. I even saw him this past Thanksgiving weekend attend a football game at Duke to cheer on his alma mater Miami (he also has a Master's degree from Charlotte). Buchanan always make himself known to everybody just as the mascot is by wandering through the stands and firing up the crowd with a big "Uh Huh!"
Buchanan is popular among local fans as simply the "Uh Huh Guy". But as is the case with many popular figures at sporting events, there are fans that strongly dislike him as well. You can look at this YouTube video of him
when Charlotte's baseball team played North Carolina in Chapel Hill, which features his antics as well as an argument with a UNC usher who wanted him to take his seat in a mostly empty ballpark. And the title of the video is "Terrible UNC-Charlotte Fan". I finally got to see him at the venue he is best known to be at last Spring at the UNCC baseball stadium when the 49ers played High Point. The parents of the HPU players clearly did not like him, and mocked his "Uh Huh!"
after High Point made the final out to win the game. Many fans at South Carolina did not like Buchanan either. And it's not just opposing fans either; I have heard a minority of fans at Charlotte who don't care much for him either. But what makes Charlotte sporting events great is to have a colorful character like Buchanan. Buchanan is best known for his love of baseball, but has shown his passion at Our Game as well. It is great to have colorful characters in Hoops Nation, and you can read more about him here as well
(I could not find when Googling old news articles on him that I read back at the time he first became popular). Buchanan is a retired assistant principal at a primary school, and is always willing to share his passion for fun.
Buchanan however does not get good seats at Halton Arena, and does not get to stand directly underneath the basket like he does at women's games and as Carlton "Baseline Jesus" Thompson does at South Carolina. Buchanan has to make his presence known at Halton Arena by wandering the aisle between the upper and lower levels while raising his various colorful signs and pumping up the crowd. During play, he usually takes his seat in the overflow student in the front row of the corner of upper baseline seating. He might not always be prominently seen during the game itself, but fans know who he is and the promotions staff occasionally makes reference to him on the Halton Arena monitors. Everybody at UNCC knows who Buchanan is and the meaning of "Uh Huh".
But "Uh Huh" has not had a basketball team to get excited about lately to go alongside is baseball passion. Charlotte got off to a great start, winning their first ten games and 15 of their first 17. But then the 49ers hit the tougher part of their schedule, and did so without leading guard DeMario Mayfield who was dismissed by head coach Alan Major. Going into this game against Temple, the 49ers had lost three of their last four and five of their last eight. Their once promising chance of returning to the NCAA Tournament after an eight year absence was mostly gone now. Moving in the opposite direction was Temple, a school that like Charlotte will not be in the Atlantic 10 next year. Both teams will be moving to new conferences that are crumbling, with Temple joining the "old" Big East and Charlotte joining Conference USA. And as has been the case for the schools in recent years, the Owls are moving to higher ground. Temple entered having won four of their last five after having lost five of the nine games before that. Temple with an extra boost could make it to the NCAA Tournament, while Charlotte could potentially be at risk of even missing the NIT. Yet in their last meeting two and a half weeks prior, the Owls barely squeaked out a one point win in Philadelphia. With this game in Charlotte, the 49ers certainly had a chance here.
But early on, things did not look good for the home team as Charlotte struggled to find points. Five minutes into the game, Temple led 6-0. Charlotte was able to find some offense by pounding the ball inside again, primarily to Willie Clayton. Clayton and other 49er big men like Chris Braswell were able to keep the game close for a while. Major was able to get his team to not rush any shots, and prevent the Owls from getting any momentum. But that would only work for so long. Once Temple was able to get comfortable from outside, the 49ers had little answer. Scootie Randall provided what Temple needed to score by making most of his shots in the first half from outside. After the 49ers tied the game with less than 11 minutes until halftime, the Owls would gradually take over. Temple responded with a 10-2 run over three minutes to get a solid lead again, and controlled the rest of the half for a 39-24 halftime lead.
Much of the crowd this Sunday afternoon arrived late, probably having been watching the Daytona 500 earlier in the afternoon. And once they got to Halton Arena, the game was for te most part uncompetitive. The home team at times showed some signs of promises in the second half, briefly cutting Temple's lead to eight points at times. The 49ers made sure to make the Owls work for the win. But Temple did what they had to do by getting shots from Randall and Khalif Wyatt, and locking down on Clayton. The focus on Clayton allowed for bench player Mike Thorne to show signs of promise for Charlotte in the future. But Thorne could not ultimately keep the Niners in this game. Temple put the game away with a few minutes left and at that point the home team gave out as the home fans left en masse. Temple ended up winning 71-51, which was not a good result for the 49ers who would continue to remain in their downward spiral for another week. For Temple, it was what was needed to keep the team hot en route to a 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
It was another setback for Charlotte and its fans. Hopefully Charlotte will someday get back to the NCAA Tournament, and Buchanan can bring his signs and personality with the 49ers for the entire world to see. Buchanan tried to get the crowd involved today, but it was just a frustrating day for all of Niner Nation. Buchanan's question mark sign was often raised in trying to make sense of what was going on. Buchanan is the kind of fan we like to see in Hoops Nation, a passionate and colorful fan with who combines his own unique personality with a knowledge and caring about Our Game. Hopefully however we decide what a mid-major is next season, Charlotte and Conference USA will be included as a group of schools that struggle to get attention in their own markets against major competition. Charlotte may be trying to go the football route which is looked down upon here, but they certainly have fans who care about basketball, uh huh!
TEMPLE 71, at CHARLOTTE 51
TEMPLE 19-8 (8-5) -- S. Randall 7-12 1-1 18; K. Wyatt 5-12 0-0 12; R. Hollis-Jefferson 3-7 2-2 8; T. DiLeo 3-6 1-2 9; J. O'Brien 4-8 0-0 10; A. Lee 2-3 0-0 4; D. Pepper 2-4 0-0 5; W. Cummings 1-4 1-2 3; Q. DeCosey 0-1 0-0 0; D. Dingle 0-0 0-0 0; J. McDonnell 0-0 0-0 0; D. Watson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-58 5-7 71.
CHARLOTTE 18-8 (6-6) -- P. Henry 3-14 4-4 10; D. Ingram 1-6 4-4 6; E. Nickerson 1-6 2-2 4; W. Clayton 2-4 0-2 4; C. Braswell 1-6 2-2 4; T. Williams 4-13 0-0 9; M. Thorne 4-7 2-2 10; D. Clark 1-5 0-0 2; I. Benkovic 0-1 2-3 2. Totals 17-62 16-19 51.
Three-point goals: TU 10-24 (J. O'Brien 2-5; T. DiLeo 2-4; S. Randall 3-5; K. Wyatt 2-6; D. Pepper 1-2; W. Cummings 0-1; Q. DeCosey 0-1), CHAR 1-12 (C. Braswell 0-1; E. Nickerson 0-3; T. Williams 1-2; P. Henry 0-1; I. Benkovic 0-1; D. Ingram 0-4); Rebounds: TU 34 (A. Lee 7), CHAR 39 (M. Thorne 7); Assists: TU 15 (K. Wyatt 7), CHAR 4 (P. Henry 3); Total Fouls -- TU 14, CHAR 9; Fouled Out: TU-None; CHAR-None.
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