February 1, 2013

Spartans Eye Perfect Homestand Saturday Against NKU

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

GAMEDAY CENTRAL | GAME NOTES

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's basketball team will look to put a lid on a perfect 5-0 homestand this weekend, welcoming Northern Kentucky to the Hodge Center Saturday afternoon for a 5 p.m. Atlantic Sun Conference tip-off on ESPN3.

The matchup between the Spartans (13-10, 7-3 A-Sun) and Norse (7-11, 5-5 A-Sun) features two of the hottest teams in the league that have combined to win seven straight games. In the only meeting between the two programs, Upstate rallied past NKU 60-54 Jan. 5 to open conference play.

Gameday Lineup

Date: Sat. Feb. 2 | 5:00 PM EST
Teams: USC Upstate (13-10, 7-3 A-Sun) vs. Northern Kentucky (7-11, 5-5 A-Sun)
Location: Spartanburg, S.C. | Hodge Center
TV: ESPN3 | TV Talent: Matt Smith (play-by-play), Jim Heenehan (Analyst)
Radio: ESPN Spartanburg 97.1 FM / 1400 AM | Radio Talent: Phil Cox (play-by-play)
Live Stats: PrestoSports Primetime
Twitter: @UPSTMBB | #UpstateHoops

Story Lines

  • On their current five-game homestand, the Spartans are unbeaten, knocking off three of the four teams by double figures and winning by an average of 12.5 points per contest. Upstate has won 21 of its last 24 games inside the Hodge Center, including eight of 10 this season.
  • After scoring at least 80 points in each of the last two games, the Spartans have now inched up to No. 2 in the league in points per game at 71.8, sitting only behind FGCU (73.9). Northern Kentucky is ranked last in the A-Sun at 57.7 points per game, but the Norse are second in the league in scoring defense, allowing 60.4 points per game, while Upstate is third at 65.4.
  • After missing out on a double-double by one point or one rebound four different times this season, Jodd Maxey made sure he earned his first double-double Thursday against Lipscomb, scoring a career-high 26 points, adding a career-high 13 rebounds and blocking a career-high six shots. His six blocked shots in a game are the most by any player in the A-Sun this season.
  • Upstate set a new season-high Thursday with 54 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive glass. The Spartans have the top-ranked rebounding margin in the league at +4.5, while its 13.3 offensive rebounds per game lead the A-Sun. NKU ranks last in the league in offensive rebounds at 9.0 per contest.
  • The Spartans are one of three teams in the A-Sun with a positive scoring margin this season and Upstate's +6.4 scoring margin is tops in the conference. Florida Gulf Coast (+5.3) and Mercer (+4.2) are the only other teams in the positive. Northern Kentucky is fourth at -2.7, the best of any team in the conference with a losing record.
  • Behind a career-high six blocked shots from Jodd Maxey Thursday evening, the Spartans combined to block 13 Lipscomb shots, more than any other team in the A-Sun this season. Torrey Craig, Rob Elam and Babatunde Olumuyiwa all swatted a pair of shots, while Ricardo Glenn tallied one block. Maxey currently leads the league in total blocks with 40 and blocks per game at 1.7.
  • Overshadowed by a career-night from Maxey, Torrey Craig quietly tallied his fifth double-double of the season Thursday, scoring 15 points and adding 10 rebounds. Craig has reached double figures in 22 of 23 games this season with the only exception coming at Northern Kentucky last month. The Norse held Craig 1-for-8 from the field and the junior committed five turnovers. The six points he scored was his 6th lowest scoring output in 87 collegiate games.

STEALING THE SHOW: While Torrey Craig was busy draining a season-high six three-pointers on just eight attempts Monday evening against ETSU, his steal with 12:17 remaining in the game marked the 100th takeaway in the junior's storied career. Currently second in the league at 17.0 points per game, Craig is making a case for his second straight A-Sun Player of the Year honor and third major conference award in as many years.

POWER RANKINGS BY POMEROY: In the latest rankings by ESPN contributor Ken Pomeroy, the Spartans are the second highest ranked team in the A-Sun behind FGCU (144) and rated No. 167 in the country. Upstate has won nine of its last 12 games, with two of those losses coming by a combined three points and currently hold the longest winning streak in the league at four games. Through various formulas and statistical methods, Pomeroy develops the rankings that many think could be as accurate as any available. The Spartans rank as the No. 4 team in the state of South Carolina, sitting only behind Clemson (72), College of Charleston (143) and Charleston Southern (161). Upstate is ranked ahead of South Carolina (181) and Coastal Carolina (204) in the Palmetto State.

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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