Much like last year's squad, Charlotte does not shoot the ball very well, yet it remains competitive in most games by way of a balanced attack and a stingy defense. The 49ers, led by 11th-year Coach Bobby Lutz, have won four straight games and are 5-6 on the season.
After losing six straight during two-week stretch in November -- including a one-point loss to Clemson, a five-point loss to Providence and a 28-point loss to Arizona State -- Charlotte, a member of the A-10 Conference, has shown improvement. Seven 49ers average 8.0 points per game or more, including four players who average double digits in scoring.
Leading the way for Charlotte is senior forward Lamont Mack (6-foot-7, 230 lbs.), who averages 12.2 points per game despite shooting 34.8 percent from the field and 29.3 percent (17-for-58) from three-point range. Mack also has tallied 34 turnovers to just eight assists.
Running the point for the 49ers is junior guard DiJuan Harris (5-foot-9, 175 lbs.), who has recorded 65 assists and 24 turnovers. Harris's all-around game might make him the most intrinsic component to the team's attack. He scores 9.4 points per game and shoots 47.8 percent from the field while playing a team-high 33.8 minutes per game. He also has tallied 20 steals.
Charlotte's top long-range shooter comes off the bench. Junior guard Ian Andersen (6-foot-4, 200 lbs.) has connected on 40.5 percent (34-for-84) of his three-point attempts this season. Despite playing in reserve, Andersen has scored in double figures five times this season, including four games in which he has scored 15 or more points. He is averaging 10.6 points per contest.
Junior guard Rashad Coleman (6-foot-5, 190 lbs.) and sophomore forward An'Juan Wilderness (6-foot-6, 215 lbs.) also average double digits in scoring for the 49ers, though Wilderness will miss Saturday's game as he recovers from a stress fracture in his left foot.
Sophomore guard Charles Dewhurst (6-foot-5, 190 lbs.) replaced Wilderness in the starting lineup during Tuesday night's 79-68 win over Long Island. Dewhurst tallied 13 points, six rebounds and four assists in his first start of the season. Five 49ers scored in double figures against Long Island.
The team's top rebounder is senior forward Charlie Coley (6-foot-7, 217 lbs.). Coley grabs 6.7 boards to go along with 8.0 points per game. He also has contributed 22 steals, though it his efforts on the glass that are most valuable for a team that struggles in that category.
Charlotte enters Saturday's game with a -2.1 average rebounding margin. The 49ers have several big bodies -- including junior center Phil Jones (6-foot-10, 260 lbs.) -- but still often struggle to establish themselves in the paint. Jones, for instance, comes off the bench to average 4.5 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game. He does average 8.5 points per game and has contributed a team-high 23 blocks, yet his potential often leaves observers wanting more.
As an offensive unit, the 49ers shoot 42.9 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from three-point range. They don't take care of the ball particularly well, either (0.9 assist/turnover ratio). However, they still manage to score 74.2 points per game and are staunch enough on defense (+2.9 average turnover margin) to keep most games close, even against opponents of a higher caliber.
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