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Beyond the Scoreboard: Kimmel Arena – “home sweet home” for Bulldogs

Enthusiastic Bulldogs' fans have helped the program to a 78-16 record at Kimmel Arena over seven seasons. (Photo credit: UNC Asheville)

It is a given in sports, an oft-proven maxim required for success – teams have to win their home games.

Holding serve, protecting your turf, taking care of business – it goes by many names, but bottom line is you usually have to win in your friendly confines most of the time to ensure a successful season.

And the UNC Asheville men’s basketball program has been one of the best in the country recently in doing exactly that.

The Bulldogs (14-9, 7-3) beat Big South Conference foe High Point 84-77 at home on Saturday to move into a tie for first place in the conference standings.

It was the 10th straight win at home this season and the 19th in a row dating back to last season, tied for the third-longest streak in the country (Cincinnati has won 37 straight, Vermont is at 20 in a row, the Bulldogs are tied with UC Davis at 19).

Ever since Kimmel opened in Nov. 2011 - with a loss to North Carolina – the Bulldogs have done an effective job of sending teams away with a defeat.

Their record in Kimmel is 78-16 (.829), which includes an impressive 53-10 (.841) mark in conference play.

The Bulldogs were 16-2 in their initial 2011-12 season in Kimmel, part of a 25-10 record that included conference regular-season and tournament titles.

And lately, the program has been all but unbeatable at home against league opponents.

Over the past three seasons, Asheville is 22-1 at home against the BSC, including a streak of 14 in a row over the last two years.

A 9-0 mark last season at Kimmel against league foes helped the Bulldogs earn a share of the regular-season title with Winthrop with a 15-3 conference record.

With eight conference games left in the regular season, Asheville has four at home and four away.

Tied for first at 7-3 with Winthrop and Radford, the Bulldogs host both rivals at home in February after losing to each on the road.

And winning at home takes on greater importance in the BSC when it comes to tourney time.

After the bottom four seeds in the 10-team field play first-round games at the higher seeds on Feb. 27, the quarterfinal round (March 1) and semifinal round (March 2) will be played at the site of the regular-season champion.

The title game will be played March 4 at the home of the highest remaining seed, which means Asheville could play three tournament games in Kimmel by winning the regular season and advancing to the championship game.

That’s a big advantage for a team that is 34-4 at home over the past three seasons.

The last time the BSC tourney was in Kimmel was 2012, when the Bulldogs wrapped up their first season in the new arena by beating Virginia Military in the BSC title game to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.

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