Lexington, Ky. – One of the key showdowns for the Transylvania men's basketball team comes early in the 2017-2018 season as the Pioneers host the No. 5 Hanover College Panthers on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. from the Beck Center.
Serving as the second HCAC game of the year for Transylvania, the Pios square off with the Panthers in a matchup of two high-octane teams in an instant battle for conference supremacy.
Transylvania enters Wednesday's matchup with a record of 4-0 overall, and 1-0 in HCAC play after disposing of Bluffton 74-59 last Saturday.
The Pioneers take on Hanover, the defending HCAC champions which completed a storied run to the Elite Eight of last season's NCAA Tournament. Hanover enters Wednesday's contest with a record of 5-1 overall, and 1-0 in conference play after a 75-68 win against Franklin last Saturday.
Wednesday's matchup serves as a forecast-setter for two of the projected top teams in the HCAC. Transylvania was voted on by coaches in the 2017 HCAC preseason poll to finish third in conference while Hanover was voted to finish in first place this season.
Wednesday's game will be broadcast via the Transy Sports Network (accessible via TransySports.com by hitting the LIVE button on the top right of the home page). Pregame coverage begins at approximately 7:20 p.m.
LIVE STATS – http://bit.ly/2nAndhl
VIDEO - http://bit.ly/2Bc44V3
RETURNING THE FAVOR: The Pioneers are looking to get their rivalry with Hanover off on the right foot Wednesday night in their first meeting of the 2017-18 season.
Last season, the Panthers took all three meetings from the Pioneers in dramatic fashion and in the slimmest of margins. The Panthers won 71-69 on December 7, 2016 in Hanover, Indiana on a Corey Muchmore short range hook shot at the buzzer, then shocked the Pioneers in Lexington on February 1, winning 70-69 on a game-winning pull-up from guard Cam Fails with two seconds remaining in the game.
Their last clash of the season came in the HCAC Tournament Semifinals; Hanover ended Transy's season with a 78-76 win when outgoing senior Corey Muchmore was fouled with five seconds left in a tie game and hit two go-ahead free throws. Hanover has won six of the last eight meetings in the series.
NATIONAL LEADERS: Transylvania's sharpshooting from inside and out has bolstered their first 4-0 start to a season in over a decade. Sophomore guard Gabe Schmitt is leading the team in scoring at 18 points per game.
Even more notably, Schmitt leads the entire nation in three-point field goal percentage at 75 percent, having knocked down 12 of 16 attempts thus far. Keyed in part by Schmitt's efficiency from outside and a high-efficiency game inside from a plethora of Transylvania's forwards and wings, the Pioneers lead the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 60 percent from the floor.
Fellow sophomore guard Spencer McKinney ranks third in the HCAC in three-point field goal percentage (58.3 percent). In Transylvania's most recent win at Bluffton, the Pioneers shot 56 percent (29-for-52) from the field.
BIG GIFTS: Wednesday's game pits a compelling matchup between a slew of talented forwards from both sides. Transylvania junior post Kyle Gullett is second on the team in scoring at 9 ppg and ranks second in conference in blocks at 1.5 rejections per contest. Senior big man Robert Dence leads the Pioneers in rebounding with 5.3 boards per game and is fifth in the HCAC in blocks per game (1.0).
Hanover boasts a collection of talent up front, led by reigning HCAC Player of the Year and D3Hoops.com preseason All-American Wes McKinney. The forward leads the Panthers in scoring at 20 points per game while shooting 40 percent from the three-point arc.
The Panthers also receive inside relief from forward Kevin Williams and Nick White. Both big men rank in the top-five in the HCAC for field goal percentage, as Williams is shooting 72 percent from the field while White has knocked down nearly 65 percent of his shots this season. White and McKinney rank fourth and fifth, respectively in conference in rebounding, averaging 6.5 and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Transylvania leads the conference in rebounding with 40.5 boards per game while Hanover ranks second in the HCAC at 39.7 rebounds per contest.
For more on Transylvania men's basketball, follow @TransyHoops on Twitter