January 6, 2011

Spartans Return Home to Face Stetson

Stetson Game Notes

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - After a 23 day hiatus, the Spartans return home to play in the Hodge Center for the first time since Dec. 16, when USC Upstate (2-12, 1-3 A-Sun) fell to Campbell 67-60.  Upstate cut a 19-point Campbell lead to just three with 34 seconds remaining, but the Camels hit four free throws in the final half-minute to claim the seven point win.

Upstate has dropped its last six contests since claiming a thrilling 60-59 victory over ETSU on Dec. 5.  On the Spartans most recent road trip, Upstate fell at Kennesaw State, 78-71 on Jan. 3, despite Babatunde Olumuyiwa's first career double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Torrey Craig's career-high 25 points.

On Wednesday night, Upstate was up-ended by Mercer 70-59.  Mercer led by as many as 25 in the game and the Bears were led by Brian Mills 30 points and 12 rebounds.  Four Upstate players reached double figures (Olumuyiwa - 13, Craig - 12, Josh Chavis - 12 and Ricardo Glenn - 10).

Spartan Tip-Off...

• Saturday marks the sixth time the Spartans and the Hatters have met on the hardwood with each team defending its home court.  The Spartans are 2-0 at the Hodge Center, while the Hatters are 3-0 at the Edmunds Center in DeLand, Fla.

• Freshman Torrey Craig reached double figures in scoring for the fifth consecutive game after posting 12 at Mercer.  Craig also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds despite missing most of the first half due to an ankle injury.

• Senior Josh Chavis is averaging 5.0 assists per game over his last five games including a career-best eight assists at Kennesaw State.

• Junior Carter Cook dished out his 100th career assist on Wednesday night at Mercer.  Cook assisted on Babatunde Olumuyiwa's dunk in the second half to reach the milestone.

• Redshirt freshman Ricardo Glenn reached double-figures for the first time in his career as he scored 10 points against the Bears on Wednesday night. 

• Freshman Babatunde Olumuyiwa is averaging 10 ppg in four conference games this season and has back-to-back double digit performances after scoring 12 points at Kennesaw State and 13 at Mercer.

Today's Opponent – Stetson

The Hatters (4-10, 2-2 A-Sun) arrive in Spartanburg on the heels of a 17 point loss (70-53) at home to A-Sun foe Belmont.  Prior to falling to the Bruins, the Hatters up-ended preseason A-Sun favorite Lipscomb by a score of 76-66 on Jan. 3 inside the Edmunds Center.

Prior to the victory over the Bisons, the Hatters had dropped five consecutive games after a 74-64 victory at North Florida.  The Hatters also fell on the road in league play at Jacksonville (70-61).

Ridge Graham leads the team in points (14.4 ppg) and rebounds (6.9 ppg), while Corey Walden also averages double-figures with 10.7 ppg.

Stetson also has victories over Savannah State and Wake Forest.  The Hatters downed the Demon Deacons in the season opener, 89-79.  Stetson's other losses have come at the hands of Bethune-Cookman, Central Florida, Palm Beach Atlantic, Miami, Florida State, Rice, Akron and Arkansas-Little Rock.

The 700 Club

Senior roommates Mezie Uzochukwu and Josh Chavis both reached a career milestone in the month of December.  At NC State on December 11, Uzochukwu reached the 700 career point plateau and became the 39th player in Upstate history to accomplish the feat.  Not to be outdone, Chavis reached the feat on December 30 at Virginia Tech as he became player number 40 to accomplish the feat.

Hanging Chads?

At the conclusion of the 2009-10 basketball season the Hodge Center underwent renovations and after an official recount of the seating capacity, the Hodge Center has been determined to seat 818 Spartan fans.  After the recount took place, the UNC Asheville, ETSU and Campbell games were deemed to all be official sellouts, giving the Spartans back-to-back-to-back sellouts in the renovated facility.

Spartans Streaking

With the 60-59 victory over ETSU on December 5th at the Hodge Center, Upstate has now won nine consecutive home conference openers.  Upstate's streak began on Jan. 11, 2003 when Upstate (then a member of D-II and the Peach Belt Conference) defeated Armstrong Atlantic State 63-62.  Since moving to D-I, Upstate has won four straight home conference openers (Gardner-Webb (1/10/08), North Florida (1/3/09), Stetson (11/30/09) and ETSU (12/5/10)).

This is Home

After a $4 million renovation of the Hodge Center, made possible by the generous donation of Mrs. Dodie Anderson (USC Upstate, '81), the Spartans christened the new facility with a pair of thrilling victories.  In the opening game, the Spartans defeated UNC Asheville, 93-91, in double-overtime on Nov. 29.  Tony Dukes hit a three-pointer with two seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 69 apiece.  In the second-overtime, Carter Cook connected on two free-throws with 6.9 seconds left as Upstate claimed the victory. 

In the conference opener, USC Upstate was ahead or tied for all but 1:18 against ETSU, but it was Chalmers Rogers layup with three seconds remaining that gave the Spartans the 60-59 win over the Bucs.  Rogers' layup in the final seconds was his only basket of the game.

Fantastic Freshmen

The freshmen duo of Babatunde Olumuyiwa and Torrey Craig find themselves near the top of the national rankings. 

Among national leaders, Olumuyiwa finds himself tied for 16th in blocks per game (2.71 bpg) and he is currently ranked 2nd among freshmen.  In blocks in a single game, the Athens, Ga., native is tied for third (with 9) with D.J. Covington (VMI) and Aaric Murray (La Salle).  The trio trails only William Mosley (Northwestern State) and Ty Walker (Wake Forest) who each recorded 11 in a single game this season.

Torrey Craig is currently averaging 6.9 rebounds per game, placing him in a tie for 18th nationally among freshmen.  He also recorded 15 rebounds against ETSU, which places him in a tie for 11th in a single game (among freshmen), while his 14 rebound performance against UNC Asheville places him in a tie for 18th (among freshmen).