Spartans Set to Wrap-up Two-Game Road Swing
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The USC Upstate men's basketball squad (2-11, 1-2 A-Sun) will wrap up a two-game road swing thru the state of Georgia on Wednesday night at Mercer.
Upstate arrives in Macon, Ga., on the heels of a seven-point loss (78-71) on Monday night at Kennesaw State.
The Spartans were led by Torrey Craig's 25 points and Babatunde Olumuyiwa's first career double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds). However the Spartans were unable to counteract the three-headed monster of Spencer Dixon (24 points), Kelvin McConnell (23 points) and Markeith Cummings (16 points).
Mercer (3-11, 0-3 A-Sun) owns the all-time series lead, 3-2, and have won two straight games in the series, including a 83-69 victory in Macon, Ga., on Feb. 8, 2010.
• Freshman Torrey Craig posted his first career 20-point game on Monday night as he finished with 25 points behind a career best 11 field goals.
• Freshman Babatunde Olumuyiwa has 38 blocks on the season, placing him ahead of four different A-Sun team totals (Lipscomb - 32, North Florida - 28, Stetson - 22, Florida Gulf Coast - 20).
• Senior Josh Chavis delivered a career-best eight assists on Monday night at Kennesaw State.
• For the second consecutive game, the Spartans shot above 40% from the floor as they finished shooting 45.9% from the field at Kennesaw State.
• Senior Mezie Uzochukwu surpassed the 700 career point plateau at NC State as he became the 39th player in school history to accomplish that feat.
• Uzochukwu's roommate, senior Josh Chavis became the 40th player in school history to tally 700 points in a career after a nine point performance at Virginia Tech.
Today's Opponent – Mercer
The Bears (3-11, 0-3 A-Sun) enter Wednesday's game on the heels of a home loss to ETSU. Adam Sollazzo delivered the game winner for the Bucs with less than four seconds remaining to help ETSU claim the 62-61 win.
Mercer has lost four consecutive games and eight of its last nine, with the lone victory during the stretching coming on Dec. 10 against Navy (W, 73-68).
The Bears are led by a trio of individuals who are averaging double figures. Leading the way is Jeff Smith (13.8 ppg), followed by Brian Mills (13.3 ppg) and Brandon Moore (11.7 ppg).
Aside from the loss to the Bucs in conference play, the Bears have also fallen on the road at Belmont (L, 67-89) and at Lipscomb (L, 65-77).
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.
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.
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.
The freshmen duo of Babatunde Olumuyiwa and Torrey Craig find themselves near the top of the national rankings.
Among national leaders, Olumuyiwa finds himself eighth in blocks per game (2.92 bpg) and he is currently the national leader 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 6.7 rebounds per game, placing him 22nd 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).