Charles Corbin has been back in Winthrop's rotation for five games and will play a big part today in the Eagles' 7 p.m. home game against UNC Asheville.
The 6-foot-7 senior forward missed the first eight games due to suspension and made his season debut Dec. 7 at Charlotte. He pulled down 11 rebounds in the Eagles' next game, a Dec. 12 win over Jacksonville.
Now he's starting to heat up. In his last three games -- including two starts -- he has averaged 13.7 points and eight rebounds.
With UNC Asheville (6-8, 1-3 Big South) at the Coliseum tonight, Corbin has to be licking his chops. Last season he went for 19 points and 15 boards at home versus the Bulldogs. On Jan. 17, 2009 Corbin tied his career-high with 22 points.
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"Corbin really loves games. He's a competitive kid and a tough player," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said.
Corbin was instrumental in Winthrop's 53-51 come-from-behind win over Presbyterian on New Year's eve. He scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a season-best 33 minutes of action. His presence was important, especially after Matt Morgan got into early foul trouble.
Morgan has started every game this season but his production and consistency hasn't been near what it was during the second half of the 2009-10 season. He scored 18 at Kentucky and then was held scoreless in eight minutes against PC. He is averaging 7.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Peele hasn't given any indication that he will replace Morgan with Corbin in the starting lineup. However, Morgan minutes have gone from 26-plus per game down to 23.8 since Corbin's return.
Corbin is contributing 10.4 points and 7.8 rebounds this season. He works well off the bench as an energy guy. He and 6-8 forward George Valentine are reversing an early-season rebounding weakness into a strength.
If Peele has any beef with Corbin it is over his shot selection. Corbin wants to extend his shooting range. Peele believes that isn't in the best interest of the team.
Regardless, Winthrop (6-7, 2-1 Big South) and Corbin have some history of success against UNC Asheville at home. The Eagles have won 11 of the last 12 meetings at the Coliseum between the teams, by an average of 14.6 points per contest.
Asheville comes in having lost two straight Big South games; 83-72 to VMI and 59-55 to Liberty. Both games were played on the Bulldogs' home floor. Asheville committed 12 second-half turnovers in Sunday's loss to Liberty.
"We're playing hard and battling, but we just haven't been good enough to win the last two games," Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "We've had some struggles on offense and playing at Winthrop is not a place you want to go when you are struggling on offense."
Asheville is ninth in the league in 3-point shooting accuracy. In its four Big South games the Bulldogs have hit just 11-of-52 treys (21.2 percent). As a team they hit a season-low 13 percent against Liberty. Junior guard J.P. Primm has missed eight of his last nine 3-point attempts.
D.J. Cunningham, Asheville's 6-10 sophomore center, missed Sunday's game against Liberty with a knee injury and the last 10 minutes of the VMI matchup. He is one of four Bulldogs scoring in double figures and leads the team in rebounding. He questionable against Winthrop.
Senior forward John Williams, a second-team All-Conference performer last season, is wearing a protective mask. He missed seven games with a broken orbital bone in his face. The injury came in a Nov. 23 game at North Carolina when he took an elbow from UNC's Tyler Zeller.