Upstate, ETSU Set For Thursday Night Battle
Feb. 18, 2009
Spartanburg, S.C. - USC Upstate returns home to play three of its final four A-Sun games in the Hodge Center, starting with Thursday night's battle with ETSU. The Spartans enter the 7:00 p.m. tip with a 7-18 overall record and a 6-10 mark in the A-Sun. Upstate dropped both of its contests in Nashville and looks to snap its two-game losing streak. ETSU enters the game with a 17-9 overall record and an 11-5 mark in the A-Sun. The Buccaneers have lost three in a row and look to end its longest losing streak of the season. ETSU leads the all-time series, 3-0.
Fans not in attendance at the game can watch the action live on ASun.TV by visiting the service's Web site at www.ASun.TV and clicking on the USC Upstate tab. Live statistical updates are available via Gametracker at www.upstatespartans.com, the official Upstate Athletics Web site.
Looking Back At Belmont
Belmont scored the first 10 points of the game and sank 10 three-pointers in the first half to open a commanding 42-19 lead at halftime. After falling behind by as many at 37 in the second half, Upstate never quit and shaved 23 points off Belmont's lead, including a 19-0 run, to cut the Bruins' advantage to 14 points. However, the large deficit was too big to completely overcome and Belmont went on for the 76-56 victory in Nashville. Alex Renfroe finished with a double-double, turning in 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead Belmont. Two other Bruins finished in double figures. De'Marion Gordon scored Upstate's first seven points in the second half and finished with a team-high 11 points. Carter Cook came off the bench for 10 points, while Nick Schneiders added nine points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots, becoming Upstate's all-time single-season blocked shots leader.
Upstate Looks For First Win Over ETSU
USC Upstate looks to take down East Tennessee State University for the first time when the two teams meet Thursday night at 7:00 in the Hodge Center in Spartanburg. ETSU holds a 3-0 advantage in the series, though each game has been relatively close. The Spartans fell by seven, 67-60, in their A-Sun debut last year and the Bucs had to go to overtime to take an 86-80 win in the season finale last year. ETSU took an 82-72 win over Upstate on Jan. 26 this season.
ETSU enters Thursday night's game at Upstate looking to break its season-high three-game losing streak. The Buccaneers own a 17-9 overall record and an 11-5 mark in the A-Sun. ETSU is one game out of first place in the league standings after losing the last three games to Stetson, Belmont and Lipscomb. Prior to the current losing streak, ETSU had not lost more than one game in a row.
ETSU turned in a 6-4 mark in non-conference games this year. The Bucs claimed wins over SIU-Edwardsville, Wingate, Tennessee Tech, Marshall, Appalachian State and Chattanooga. They fell to Temple, Hofstra, Bradley and Morehead State.
ETSU is 11-5 in the league with wins over Mercer, Kennesaw State, Jacksonville, North Florida twice, Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast, Lipscomb, Belmont, Upstate and Campbell. The Bucs have dropped league games to Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Stetson, Belmont and Lipscomb.
ETSU can put points on the board. The Bucs average nearly 78 points per game and have topped the 80-point mark 11 times this season. They shoot nearly 47 percent from the field and 33 percent from the three-point arc. Opponents average 71 points per game and shoot 41 percent from the field and 34 percent from the arc.
Courtney Pigram was the A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year and is one of three catalysts for ETSU. He averages 18 points and 4.2 assists per game. Kevin Tiggs leads the Bucs in scoring at 21.2 points per game, while Mike Smith averages 14.8 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds per outing.
Murray Bartow is the head coach of the ETSU program and is in his sixth season at the school. He owns a 112-70 record at ETSU and a 215-153 overall mark in his 12th season as a head coach. He has taken the Buccaneers to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and the NIT in 2007. Prior to his stint at ETSU, Bartow was the head coach at Alabama-Birmingham for six seasons from 1996-2002. He led UAB to one NCAA Tournament appearance and two spots in the NIT. A graduate of UAB, he served as a grad assistant at Indiana before serving as an assistant at William & Mary and UAB.
Schneiders The King Of The Block
With four blocked shots Monday night against Belmont, Nick Schneiders moved atop the single-season blocks list at Upstate. He now has 57 blocks on the year, surpassing the 56 swatted by Kevin Harrington in 2002-03. Schneiders, who already had demolished his single-season school Division I blocks record of 25 set last year, now has 95 in his career and ranks second all-time behind Harrington, who finished his career with 136 in four seasons.
Upstate took a three-game winning streak on the road to Nashville last weekend and the results were less than stellar. Upstate battled Lipscomb and Belmont last Saturday and Monday. The teams had already played in Spartanburg in January with Upstate taking a 57-56 win over Lipscomb and losing to Belmont, 73-69. The point differential in those games was -3. On the road trip to Nashville, Upstate lost at Lipscomb, 77-44 (-33 point differential), and at Belmont, 76-56 (-20 point differential) for a combined -53 point differential.
Davis Stands Alone In The Nation
After research conducted by A-Sun Director of Communications Eric Moyer and the media relations office at Upstate, it has been determined that Bobby Davis is the only player in all of Division I who leads his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and field goal percentage (at least 50 attempts). Davis is one of two players in the nation to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists and field goal percentage with Belmont's Alex Renfroe being the other player.
Davis In The Record Books
In just two seasons at Upstate, senior forward Bobby Davis has established himself among the all-time greats who have played at the school. He ranks among the all-time leaders in several career statistical categories. His 8.4 rebounds per game average tops Upstate's all-time list. He ranks 13th all-time with 460 rebounds, but tops the all-time list for those players who have played just two seasons in the program. He ranks 22nd all-time with an 11.7 ppg scoring average.
Breaking Out A New Starting Lineup
Entering the Belmont game Monday night, four Upstate players had started every game. In all, the starting lineup of Josh Chavis (point), Gabor Boros (shooting guard), Mezie Uzochukwu (wing), Bobby Davis (forward) and Nick Schneiders (center) had started 21 of 24 contests. Boros missed three games after injuring his back early in the season. The other four players, though, had started every game. Following a 33-point loss at Lipscomb, head coach Eddie Payne decided to shake things up. Chavis had suffered a minor concussion in the Lipscomb game and probably would not have started against Belmont anyway. Payne put three new starters into the lineup alongside Davis and Uzochukwu, starting De'Marion Gordon at the point, moving Uzochukwu to the two-guard spot to start Pat Posey at the wing, and inserting Chalmers Rogers in at center. Davis and Uzochukwu are now the only Upstate players to have started all 25 games this season.
Upstate Wins Three In A Row For First Time In DI
When the final buzzer sounded in Upstate's 71-62 victory over Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 9, the win marked the first three-game winning streak for the Spartans since joining the ranks of Division I last season.
Davis' Play For Postseason Honors
The way Bobby Davis has played throughout the season, he has established himself as one of the top players in the A-Sun. He is the only player in the nation to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and field goal percentage. He has reached double figures in scoring a team-best 21 times in 24 games and in rebounding a team-best 12 times. He leads the team with 10 double-doubles on the year.
All Hail The King
Senior guard Zac Rich has been a solid player in the Spartans' program for four years and has done everything head coach Eddie Payne has asked. He is a solid leader on and off the court. During halftime of the 54-53 victory over Stetson on Feb. 7, Rich was named Upstate's Homecoming King.
Two In A Row On Super Sunday
With Upstate's 70-59 victory at Jacksonville last Sunday, the Spartans have improved to 2-0 playing on Super Bowl Sunday. Last year, the Spartans claimed a dominating 75-49 victory over Mercer in Spartanburg on Super Bowl Sunday.
Schneiders Delivers A Season First
For the first time this season, and just the second time in his career, Nick Schneiders recorded a double-double to help lead Upstate to a 73-65 win over Campbell on Jan. 24. Schneiders finished the game with 10 points and 11 rebounds. His first career double-double came last season on Feb. 3 against Mercer in the Hodge Center when the 7-3 junior center scored 13 points and pulled down 10 boards. Schneiders has scored in double figures nine times this season and pulled down double-digit rebounds on three occasions. Bobby Davis leads the Spartans in double-doubles this season. The senior forward has tallied eight double dips on the year.
Making The Grade
While Upstate works hard to try to get it done on the court, the Spartans work to get it done in the classroom as well. The hard work has paid off as the men's basketball program posted a team GPA of 3.026 in the fall semester and was the top male sports team at Upstate. It marked the highest GPA for the basketball team since the department began tracking team GPAs in the early 1990s. Eight members of the men's basketball team were selected to the A-Sun All-Academic team released by the league this week. Gabor Boros, Cedric Koffi, Matt Preston, Lucas Reiff, Zac Rich, Chalmers Rogers, Nick Schneiders and Mezie Uzochukwu were each selected as All-Academic in the A-Sun. The eight All-Academic selections are the most ever in the history of the program, topping the seven selections to the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Academic Honor Roll in 2007 in the Spartans' final year in NCAA Division II.
The Renaissance Man
Not only is Nick Schneiders developing his game, he is also in the process of developing his skills as a graphic designer. Having done a few volunteer projects for the media relations and marketing departments at Upstate, he also dabbles in artistic expression. The junior center's work will be on display next week at the NCAA Convention in Washington D.C. and in the online version of the NCAA Champions magazine featuring the NCAA Student-Athlete Art Exhibit. Schneiders donated two pieces of artwork to the exhibit, a wire shoe and an artistic picture of a fluorescent light bulb. Schneiders was one of 20 student-athletes from all NCAA Division I, II and III schools to have his artwork chosen for the exhibit in Washington D.C. and in the online version of the NCAA Champions magazine.
Spartans' Non-Conference Schedule Ranked 45th
In its two seasons playing on the NCAA Division I level, Upstate has not ducked playing anyone. In addition to a demanding A-Sun conference schedule, the Spartans have played the likes of Notre Dame, Utah, South Carolina, Georgia, Boston College, Duquesne, Akron, Oregon State, UTEP, Saint Louis, Fresno State and Buffalo in its first two seasons and still have a non-conference game at Gonzaga to look forward to at the end of the year. In the latest non-conference strength of schedule ranking released by Ken Pomeroy, Upstate's schedule was ranked 45th in the country.
Upstate vs. The A-Sun
Upstate returns to action in the A-Sun with Thursday's 7:00 p.m. showdown with ETSU in Spartanburg. Upstate is currently 11-21 all-time in the A-Sun. The Spartans' went 5-11 last year in the school's first season playing in the conference and is currently 6-10 this season.