Spartans Host Mercer in White-Out Thursday on ESPN3

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 get back on track Thursday evening, returning home to the friendly confines of the Hodge Center for a special 9 p.m. Valentine's Day "White-Out" tip-off with Mercer University in A-Sun action on ESPN3.

The matchup between the Spartans (13-13, 7-6 A-Sun) and Bears (16-9, 9-3 A-Sun) is the second meeting this season and 11th all-time between the two programs with Mercer holding an 8-2 edge.

Gameday Lineup

Date: Thur., Feb. 14 | 9:00 PM EST
Teams: USC Upstate (13-13, 7-6 A-Sun) vs. Mercer (16-9, 9-3 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

  • Mercer held a seven-point halftime lead over the Spartans on Jan. 19 and cruised to an 82-74 victory at Hawkins Arena, using 24 points from Travis Smith and six assists from Langston Hall. Ty Greene and Torrey Craig scored 22 points apiece in the contest, while Jodd Maxey pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
  • The Spartans are on a season-long three-game skid, but have managed to maintain control of third place in the A-Sun standings despite the recent setbacks. Sitting two full games behind Mercer for the No. 2 spot in the league, Upstate has a chance to cut that lead in half and eye the No. 2 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
  • Despite a loss to Northern Kentucky in the final contest of a five-game homestand on Feb. 2, the Spartans are 8-3 at home this season and have won 21 of their last 25 games inside the Hodge Center.
  • USC Upstate has filled the Hodge Center to at least 80-percent capacity in 10 of 11 home games this season, including a pair of standing room only sellouts. The Spartans will be looking for some love from the students on Valentine's Day, with the first 500 students receiving free t-shirts for the "White-Out Mercer" event.
  • After opening the season with three straight conference road wins, Upstate has now dropped three straight A-Sun road games and sit at 3-3 in league games away from home. Last Saturday's 25-point loss at FGCU was the Spartans' biggest loss of the season and Upstate's 49 points in that contest were the fewest in any game this year.
  • Mercer and Upstate currently hold the No. 2 and No. 3 scoring margins in the league with the Bears at +5.6 and the Spartans at +4.2. FGCU is the only other program in the positive at +6.7.
  • Upstate is ranked No. 2 in the league in scoring offense at 70.5 points per contest, while Mercer is the top rated defense in the A-Sun, allowing just 57.4 points per game. The Bears are ranked seventh in the league in total offense with 63.0 points per contest.
  • If the game comes down to the charity stripe Mercer will hold a sizable advantage as the Bears top the A-Sun in free throw percentage at .753, while Upstate is last in the league at .637. In the Jan. 24 matchup in Macon, Mercer finished 29-33 (.878) from the free throw line, while the Spartans were just 12-of-24 (.500).
  • Mercer leads the league in blocked shots her per game at 4.0, while the Spartans rank fourth in the A-Sun at 3.6. Upstate does boast the top shot blocker in the league however, as Jodd Maxey leads the conference in total blocks with 43 and blocks per game at 1.7.

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."

Follow Upstate men's basketball all season long on your mobile device, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.