Spartans Put Four-Game Winning Streak on the Line at Mercer
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Riding its second four-game win streak of the season, the USC Upstate men's basketball team (14-9, 7-3 Atlantic Sun) is set for a 4:30 p.m. showdown Saturday at Mercer (17-7, 9-2).
For those fans that cannot attend Saturday's contest there are several ways you can follow the action from the opening tip to the final horn. Fans can follow the action by clicking the live stats and live video links above.
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• Upstate head coach Eddie Payne is just six wins shy of 400 for his career.
• Torrey Craig was named the CollegeHoops.net A-Sun Player of the Month for January. Craig helped Upstate post a 6-3 mark in January including a four-game win streak to close out the month,
• Jodd Maxey was named the College Sports Madness A-Sun Player of the Week (1/30/11) after averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.0 blocks per contest in a pair of Upstate wins over Lipscomb and ETSU.
• The Spartans, after being out-rebounded at Jacksonville State (1/30/12) are now 2-4 when losing the rebounding battle.
• The Spartans posted their highest field goal percentage of the season (63.8%; 30-for-47) in their 82-77 victory at Jacksonville State (1/30/12). The Spartans also finished 77.8% (7-of-9) from beyond the arc.
• Against the Gamecocks, Ty Greene led a group of five players with a team-high 17 points behind a 4-of-9 effort from the floor (2-2 3FG) and 7-of-8 at the charity stripe. Greene's seven made free three throws tied a career-high.
• Also reaching double figures at Jacksonville State were: Torrey Craig (15 points; 5-6 FG), Adrian Rodgers (13 points; 6-6 FG), Ricardo Glenn (11 points, 5-8 FG) and Mario Blessing (11 points, 4-7 FG [3-4 3FG]). Jodd Maxey finished 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-of-2 at the charity stripe to finish with 8 points. Maxey battled foul trouble, playing just 17 minutes, but finished with four steals and four blocks.
• Jodd Maxey scored a game-high 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the victory over ETSU (1/27/12) Maxey also swatted five shots to become the first Spartan since Babatunde Olumuyiwa (6, vs. UNC Asheville, 11/29/10) to block five or more shots in a single game.
• Mario Blessing tied a career-high with 11 points in the win over the Bucs. His triple from the right wing with 1:17 left clinched the game for the game for the Spartans.
• Ricardo Glenn pulled down a career-best 17 rebounds (8 off, 9 def) against ETSU (1/27/12), while Torrey Craig registered his seventh double-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds). Glenn's 17 rebounds were the most since Craig recorded 15 against ETSU (12/5/10). Glenn's 17 rebounds are the tied for the most in the league this season and he is the only player to haul in 17 boards in a conference game.
• Torrey Craig earned A-Sun Player of the Week honors (1/24/12) after leading Upstate to a pair of conference wins over Belmont and Lipscomb. The last time an A-Sun school claimed back-to-back wins over Belmont and Lipscomb was Jacksonville (2009-10 season).
• Despite shooting just 30.4% (21-69) from the floor, Upstate used strong defense to pick up a 61-52 win over Lipscomb (1/23/12). The Spartans forced 20 turnovers and converted those Bison miscue into 17 points.
Today's Opponent – Mercer
Mercer, winners of nine of its last 10, enters Saturday's A-Sun contest with a 17-7 overall mark and a 9-2 record in league play. Since a 76-61 setback at ETSU Jan. 7, the Bears have won six straight, a streak that began in Spartanburg (W, 73-66, 1/9/12).
Justin Cecil leads a trio of players in double-figures with 11.9 points per contest. Langston Hall (10.8 ppg) and Jakob Gollon (10.6) join Cecil in the double-figure scoring column. Gollon is the team's leading rebounder at 5.5 rpg, while Hall paces the team with 106 assists (4.4 apg).
The Bears are 9-1 at home this season and have a scoring margin of +16.3 in those 10 games. Mercer's only home loss of the season was Nov. 23, a 74-61 loss to South Dakota State.
Following Saturday's tilt, the Bears will host ETSU Monday night at 7 p.m.
Last Time vs. Mercer – Jan. 9, 2012 – Spartanburg, S.C. (Hodge Center)
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Justin Cecil scored 26 points to help lead Mercer to a 73-66 win over USC Upstate on Monday night for the Bears' fourth win in five games.
Jakob Gollon added 10 points for the Bears (12-7, 4-2 Atlantic Sun Conference), who used a strong run out of halftime to seal the victory.
Tied 31-all at intermission, Cecil dropped in a layup and knocked down a 3-pointer on back-to-back Mercer possessions to fuel a 14-1 run to begin the second half. The Bears led the rest of the way, outscoring the Spartans 42-35 in the second half.
Torrey Craig scored 17 points and Ricardo Glenn had 16 for the Spartans (9-8, 3-2), who have lost three of their last four.
The Bears have won five straight against the Spartans, and hold a 6-2 all-time advantage in the series.
After posting just five wins in 2010-11, the Upstate men's basketball team has 14 wins this season. The Spartans' 9-game turnaround currently ranks as the second best in the nation. The only squad with a better turnaround is the Manhattan Jaspers (+10). In fact, the Spartans have three more wins this season than they did the previous two seasons (6, 2009-10; 5, 2010-11).
Palmetto State Update
Among all D-I players across the state of South Carolina, Torrey Craig sits third in scoring at 17.4 ppg. He trails only Anthony Raffa of Coastal Carolina (18.1 ppg) and The Citadel's Mike Groselle (17.5 ppg). The sophomore ranks just outside the top-five in rebounding and blocked shots. Craig would sit fifth overall in blocks, but with teammate Jodd Maxey posting nine blocks in the last two games (5, ETSU; 4, at Jacksonville State), Maxey has overtaken Craig for the Spartan lead.
Upstate's Ty Greene is having quite the freshman campaign as he has helped guide the Spartans to 14 wins this season. Not only does he sit near the top of team statistics, he ranks in the top three in the conference (among freshman) in four different categories. He leds all A-Sun freshmen at the charity stripe at 79.1%. He ranks third in scoring (10.7 ppg), third in steals (1.5 spg) and third in three-point FG % (.383).
Fellow Spartan rookie Mario Blessing leads the squad in three-point FG % (.400) and ranks second among all freshmen in the league; FGCU's Filip Cvjeticanin leads all rookies at 45.6%.
After reaching double-figures in every game during the month of January, USC Upstate sophomore forward Torrey Craig picked up CollegeHoops.net Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Month accolades. Craig is the first Upstate player in the D-I era to record double-figures in every game in single month and he is the first since Charleston Long accomplished the feat in January 2005.
Craig finished the first month of 2012 averaging 18.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest. He connected on 48.0% (60-125) of his field goal attempts, 34.9% (22-63) of his three-point attempts and 66.7% (28-42) from the charity stripe. He also recorded five double-doubles during the month.
At Jacksonville State (1/30/12), Upstate connected 30 of its 47 field goal attempts to post its best shooting percentage mark of the season (.638). Prior to the hot shooting night in Jacksonville, Ala., the Spartans previous high came in Edinburg, Texas when the Spartans defeated Texas State (11/20/11) for their first neutral site victory in nearly four seasons. Upstate connected on 57.4% (31-54) of its attempts en route to the 82-74 victory.