The injury to Devin Sibley takes top headline tonight for Furman. It is hard to know when he will be back, but it looked ugly.
Another injury to a big name SoCon player? Seems like par for the course.
Furman is solid and should be able to survive without Sibley, but they probably take a small step back without him, but any team losing their unquestioned best player would be in the same position.
Things did become a little clearer tonight. Wofford, ETSU, Mercer and UNCG all won, which are the teams that needed to win to create some clarity in the conference race. It’s still early, but things are becoming more clear.
ETSU 62, Furman 61
What Happened? The Bucs defense is smothering. John Davis made some big shots for the Paladins, but ETSU jumped out to a double digit second half lead and then had to hold on. The Paladins had taken the lead, though until Desonta Bradford made a layup with 4 seconds left to come up with the one point win for the Bucs.
Stat of the Game: Furman made just 7 of 26 from three point range. They made 26.9% from three point range. The Paladins did not do well in that regard. The Bucs defense- it travels.
Player of the Game: Desonta Bradford. Make a game winning shot with four seconds left, match the team high in points with 12, and it becomes relatively easy to pick Bradford to become the player of the game.
What does it mean to ETSU? It seems like a long time ago that the Bucs were 2-3. Since then, they are 13-1 with the lone loss being a 20 point blown lead against Xavier. This Bucs team is very good and by winning on the road tonight, they established themselves as the no doubt favorite in the conference. I think the top of the conference is too good for them to go unbeaten in SoCon play, but this team is really good.
What does it mean to Furman? No Sibley? Not the end, but this team takes a small step back until he returns. Without Sibley, this team is closer to fourth in the league than first. That’s not terrible. That’s back to back losses for the Paladins. They need to get back up when they are hosting Samford on Saturday.
Mercer 62, VMI 56
What Happened? The Bears lead pretty much the entire way but they were never able to shake the Keydets and put them away. VMI hung around the entire way. The Keydets trimmed it to three in the final minute but Jordan Strawberry knocked down several free throws in the closing minute to put it away.
Stat of the Game: Bears 46.5% offensive rebounding percentage. Of the 43 available offensive rebounds, Mercer claimed 20. They dominated the offensive glass and that was the main reason that despite shooting 36.5% from the floor, they were able to pull out the win.
Player of the Game: Stephon Jelks collected 13 points with 11 rebounds. Jelks has been so important to this Bears team and he came up with a bunch of huge plays in this one.
What does it mean to Mercer? The Bears goes to UNCG and ETSU in their next two. If the Bears could get one of those, it would be huge. They are back to 3-3 in conference play, which is huge. After their 0-3 start in conference play, they are back to sixth in the conference again. Look out for the surging Bears.
What does it mean to VMI? The Keydets are still winless in conference play, but VMI is close to winning. They host The Citadel this weekend, and both teams have been playing OK given their competition. VMI is not completely out of the race for sixth, and Bubba Parham was very good in this one. They Keydets are not particularly good, but they are improving.
UNCG 72, The Citadel 58
What Happened? The Spartans were far from perfect offensively, but were brilliant against the Bulldogs defensively. Holding The Citadel to just 58 points is amazing (more on that below). The Spartans were never really threatened in front of their home crowd.
Stat of the Game: The Citadel was held to 58 points, a remarkable 29.8 points below their average in SoCon play. The Bulldogs had been averaging 87.8 points per game in conference game and were held below 60, which is truly remarkable. The Spartans defense was unreal.
Player of the Game: Isaiah Miller scored thirteen points. He also had five rebounds and two steals. He played excellent defense throughout. He made 6 of 11 from the floor. Miller has been a very good freshman representative off the bench for the Spartans. He continued that tonight.
What does it mean to The Citadel? The Bulldogs go to VMI on Saturday and that is a must win for the Bulldogs. At 1-5, they remain just two games out of the six spot in the bye race. They must win against teams like VMI. This loss was disappointing, but the Bulldogs played well enough in Greensboro, especially defensively.
What does it mean to UNCG? The Spartans defense was amazing, but their offense was severely lacking. Four straight SoCon opponents had scored over 100 and UNCG was not anywhere close. Opponents have been averaging 101 points per game against the Bulldogs in conference play. The Spartans have got to get better offensively. They host Mercer on Saturday in a huge game.
Wofford 93, Samford 89
What Happened? Wofford shot very well from the floor and jumped out to an eight point halftime lead. But the Bulldogs never gave up and fought back the whole way. They tied the game in the second half and fought back from a late nine point deficit to cut it down to a one possession game several times late as the Terriers came up with enough big plays down the stretch to win the game.
Stat of the Game: Terriers 64.2% eFG. Their 14 of 30 shooting from three point range definitely was the major factor in Wofford coming up with the win. They also made almost 60% from two point range. That was an amazing shooting display and is the main reason the Terriers came up with the win.
Player of the Game: Fletcher Magee scored 31 points on 8 of 15 from three point range. He is one of the best shooters in the SoCon and he was on fire this night. When Magee is shooting like that, this Terriers team is virtually unstoppable.
What does it mean to Wofford? A huge win for the Terriers on the road. The Terriers are now 4-1 and host Chattanooga and go to VMI before hosting ETSU on January 27. This Terriers team has a really good chance to take on the best teams in the conference and come out on top. Wofford is so good offensively. They just seem to be getting better every game.
What does it mean to Samford? The Bulldogs dropped to 3-3 in conference play. They go to Furman and Chattanooga and host UNCG in their next three games. Things are not looking good for Samford. This was back-to-back losses. Until they get Wyatt Walker back, this team is middle of the pack at best in the SoCon. Still, this was not a bad performance against one of the better teams in the SoCon.