March 8, 2013

Spartans to Battle Top-Seeded Bears in A-Sun Semifinals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Beall,
 dbeall@uscupstate.edu

Gameday Central | Game Notes | Tournament Central

Quarterfinal Highlights | Quarterfinal Photos | A-Sun Insider Blog on Babatunde

MACON, Ga. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team rolls on to the semifinals of the 2013 General Shale Atlantic Sun Conference Basketball Championship to take on top-seeded Mercer Friday afternoon inside Hawkins Arena for a 5:30 p.m. tip-off on CSS and ESPN3.

The Spartans (16-16) were swept in the regular season series with Mercer (22-10) with the Bears picking up an eight-point victory at home and an 11-point victory in the Hodge Center.

Gameday Lineup

Date: Fri. March 8 | 5:30 PM EST
Teams: USC Upstate (16-16) vs. Mercer (21-10)
Round: A-Sun Championship Semifinals | Bracket
Location: Macon, Ga. | Hawkins Arena (3,200)
TV: CSS / ESPN3 | TV Talent: Matt Stewart (play-by-play), Sonny Smith (Analyst)
Radio: ESPN Spartanburg 97.1 FM / 1400 AM | Radio Talent: Phil Cox (play-by-play)
Live Stats: asun.statbroadcast
Twitter: @UPSTMBB | #UpstateHoops | #ASunMBB

Story Lines

  • Mercer leads the all-time series with USC Upstate, 10-2. The Bears have won each of the last eight meetings, with the last loss coming in overtime on February 26, 2009.
  • Upstate's 76-62 victory over Jacksonville Thursday evening marked the Spartans first A-Sun Tournament victory in school history after falling to FGCU in the program's postseason debut last season.
  • With Upstate's upset of No. 5 Jacksonville, a higher seed has upset a lower seed in the quarterfinals in each of the last four A-Sun Championships.
  • A win Thursday snapped a six-game losing streak for Upstate inside Hawkins Arena. The Spartans will now face a Mercer team that has won 16 straight games at home, a streak tied with Duke, Middle Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin and Virginia for the seventh longest in the nation.
  • USC Upstate Head Coach Eddie Payne on playing No. 1 seed Mercer in the A-Sun Championship Quarterfinals: "Special moments in life come from great challenges."
  • Torrey Craig was the lone Upstate player to earn postseason accolades from the Atlantic Sun when he was one of only two individuals in the league to be a unanimous First-Team All-Conference selection. He was also awarded A-Sun Player of the Year honors by College Sports Madness.
  • Currently leading the league in scoring at 17.2 points per game, Craig is attempting to become just the second player in conference history to earn back-to-back scoring titles. Centenary's Willie Jackson was tops in the league for three straight seasons from 1981-84.
  • Ricardo Glenn has been one of the most consistent players in the A-Sun all season, averaging 10.7 points per game and leading the league in field goal percentage at .596, while his 8.0 rebounds per contest rank second in the conference.
  • The Spartans are statistically the best rebounding team in the league, holding the top rebounding margin in the A-Sun at +4.1, while also leading the conference in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
  • Upstate's 15.5 assists per game rank No. 2 in the A-Sun and No. 23 in the country. Ty Greene leads the squad at 2.5 assists per game, while Adrian Rodgers dishes out 2.4 per contest.
  • Jodd Maxey has led the Spartans to the top shot blocking team in the league at 4.0 blocks per game. Maxey's 1.6 blocks per game and 54 total blocks lead the A-Sun, while Babatunde Olumuyiwa is tied for eighth at 0.9 blocks per contest.

All the Smarts: The Atlantic Sun Conference released the 2012-13 Academic All-Conference team Tuesday afternoon from the league office and Mario Blessing was one of just four individuals named to the prestigious list. As a business Administration major with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average, Blessing has served as the floor general for the Spartans all season, playing in all 31 games and starting 25 of those contests at the point guard position.

Unchartered Territory: Currently leading the league in scoring at 17.2 points per game, Craig is attempting to become just the second player in conference history to earn back-to-back scoring titles. Centenary's Willie Jackson was tops in the league for three straight seasons from 1981-84.

What they are Saying: (Baylor's Scott Drew) "This is a game that as a coach, you know that your opponent is a lot better than people might realize. You can see them in the NCAA tournament winning a game."

(Kansas State's Bruce Weber) "They have a really good ball club. When we looked at it going into all these non-conference games they had 21 wins last year and the best turn-around in the country."

(Saint Louis' Jim Crews) "I thought they were good coming in, and I know they're good coming out. Every time we made a mistake, they drilled us every single time. It was uncanny. If we made a defensive slip, we got burned."

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