SPARTANBURG, S.C. – After claiming a 13-point victory over Stetson in the A-Sun/CSS Game of the Week on Friday night, the Spartans travel farther south for a Sunday afternoon matinee against the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast.
USC Upstate will be looking to extend its current win streak to three with a potential victory over FGCU.
The Spartans and Eagles were set to play in Spartanburg on Jan. 10, but winter weather forced the postponement of that game (to Feb. 28), therefore Sunday's meeting is the first of the season between the two conference schools.
Upstate's current win streak began on Monday night with a come from behind victory over Kennesaw State. The Spartans entered Monday's game 0-7 when owning the rebounding advantage, but now sit 2-7 when owning the battle on the glass.
Like on Friday night, Sunday's game will feature a pair of strong freshman scorers: Upstate's Torrey Craig (15.0 ppg) and FGCU's Christophe Varidel (11.3 ppg).
• Upstate has won back-to-back games when owning the rebounding advantage. Before the win over Kennesaw State, Upstate was 0-7 when winning the battle on the boards.
• Freshman Torrey Craig recorded his sixth 20-point outing of his career. Of his six, two were against Kennesaw State and two were against Stetson.
• Senior Josh Chavis needs just one trey to move into third in school history for career three pointers. He is currently tied with Luke Payne (2004-08), with 190 career triples.
• Senior Mezie Uzochukwu scored 13 points on Friday night at Stetson which was his highest scoring total since scoring 15 on Nov. 29 against UNC Asheville.
• Freshman Babatunde Olumuyiwa has 61 blocks on the season putting him third in the single-season record books.
• Upstate's victory over Stetson on Friday night was the Spartans first road win since a 65-60 win at FGCU on Feb. 25, 2010. The Spartans streak started at Stetson on Feb. 27, 2010 and the streak was at 12 straight until the Spartans snapped the skid Friday.
Today's Opponent – Florida Gulf Coast
Florida Gulf Coast enters Sunday's match-up on a three-game skid after winning a triple-overtime thriller at Stetson on Jan. 25 (W, 111-103). Since then, the Eagles fell on the road at Belmont, at Lipscomb and ETSU.
The Eagles, like the Spartans, have just two wins since the calendar shifted to 2011. FGCU downed Campbell in Buies Creek on Jan. 20. Before the win over the Camels, FGCU hadn't won since before Christmas. The Eagles downed N.C. Central, 87-68, in the battle of the Eagles on Dec. 21.
Anthony Banks leads the team in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg), while Christophe Varidel ranks second in scoring at 11.3 ppg.
Reed Baker was second on the team with 14.4 ppg, but left the FGCU program after the team returned to Fort Myers after its game at ETSU on Jan. 8. Baker had started all 14 games this season before leaving the program.
Upstate freshman Torrey Craig ranks sixth nationally (among freshmen) with a scoring average of 15.0 ppg. The only freshmen ahead of Craig are: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State, 18.0 ppg), Terrence Jones (Kentucky, 17.9 ppg), Brandon Knight (Kentucky, 17.2 ppg), Trey Zeigler (Central Michigan, 17.0 ppg) and DeAndre Kane (Marshall, 15.7 ppg).
Craig recorded 15 rebounds against ETSU (12/5), which places him in a tie for 16th in a single game (among freshmen), while his 14 rebound performances against UNC Asheville (11/29) and Stetson (2/4) places him in a tie for 25th (among freshmen). His rebounding average of 7.3 rpg, places him 19th (among freshmen) nationally.
Babatunde's Block Party
Through early part of his collegiate career, freshman forward Babatunde Olumuyiwa has established himself as a defensive presence. Against East Carolina, Olumuyiwa rejected four Pirate shots, at the time it was a career best for the Athens, Ga., native. Just two days later Olumuyiwa more than doubled that total as he rejected a career-best nine shots (including a pair of dunk attempts) at South Carolina. He recorded six against UNC Asheville to give him 19 in a three-game stretch and on the season, Olumuyiwa has 59 blocks and is averaging 2.65 bpg, both lead the A-Sun.
Olumuyiwa is tied for fourth nationally (with C.J. Aiken (St. Joseph's), D.J. Covington (VMI) and Aaric Murray (La Salle)) with nine blocks in a game. The quartet trails only William Mosley (Northwestern State) and Ty Walker (Wake Forest) who each recorded 11 in a single game this season and Sam Muldrow (South Carolina) who had 10.
Twenty for Torrey
Since the calendar flipped to 2011, freshman Torrey Craig has been riding an offensive high. In six times, the Rock Hill, S.C., native has scored 20 or more points. He posted a career-high 25 at Kennesaw State (1/3), followed by 24 against Stetson (1/8) and 20 at North Florida (1/15).
He tallied 23 in the Spartans upset bid against Belmont and tied a career-high with five triples. The Spartan rookie set a new career-high on Jan. 31 with 27 points in Upstate's 59-54 win over Kennesaw State. Craig struck again on Friday night at Stetson as he scored 15 points in the second half en route to 20 points (career-best six three pointers) in the Spartans' 13 point win (72-59) over the Hatters in the A-Sun/CSS Game of the Week.