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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team continued to roll at home Monday evening, scoring 55 second-half points to cruise past ETSU 88-71 in the Hodge Center in Atlantic Sun Conference action on ESPN3.
The Spartans (12-10, 6-3 A-Sun) win their third straight game as they vault to a tie for league lead with five other teams, while the Buccaneers (6-16, 4-5 A-Sun) fall to 3-9 on the road this season.
"That was an exceptionally good second half," said Upstate Head Coach Eddie Payne. "We distributed the points well, rebounded the ball better and played good solid basketball in just about every phase of the game."
Entering the game with the highest three-point percentage in the league at 35 percent, Upstate continued to stay red hot from long range, knocking down 11 of 24 attempts from behind the arc, including a season-high six three-pointers from junior Torrey Craig.
Craig opened the game with four first-half treys and led Upstate to 45 percent from long range and a 17-point victory, the Spartans seventh home victory of the year in nine tries.
His game-high 23 points led four Upstate players in double figures, as Ricardo Glenn followed with 16 points, while Ty Greene chipped in 13 points and Jodd Maxey added 11. Adrian Rogers finished a point shy of double figures, while two others players scored seven points.
The Spartans trailed by a point at intermission, but Maxey was brilliant in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring seven straight points for Upstate and fueling a 13-2 run that handed the Spartans their first double-digit lead of the game at 46-36.
"This is the third good perimeter defensive game we have had in a row, and against a team that has more perimeter shooters than most other people, so I was pleased with the way we defended," said Payne.
The Buccaneers would rally and cut the Upstate lead to just four at 51-47, but the Spartans had an answer and extended the advantage to 15 points over the next five minutes, capped by a pair of free throws from Greene.
Upstate led by as many as 20 points at two different times down the stretch, both coming off layups from Glenn who finished the game a perfect 7-for-7 from the field.
"The second half was just bad all around," said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow. "We are a young team so you have these ups and downs. But Upstate has a very good team and you can't let up against them. When we defend well then we play well, and tonight we didn't defend well – especially in the second half."
The Spartans shared the ball more than they have all season, tallying 23 assists on 28 buckets and committing just nine turnovers, while limiting the Bucs to nine points off those miscues.
"Any good offensive team is unselfish and passes the ball well," said Payne. "We certainly emphasized sharing the ball playing against a zone and the ball moved much better and more consistently in the second half."
The Spartans will continue a season-long five-game homestand Thursday evening, welcoming Lipscomb University to town another A-Sun showdown. Tip-off against the Bison is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Hodge Center.