USC Upstate (15-16) vs. Jacksonville (14-17)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 7, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hawkins Arena (3,200) -- Macon, Georgia. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: USCU 9-4, Jacksonville 10-3. Away Record: USCU 5-11, Jacksonville 3-13. Neutral Record: USCU 1-1, Jacksonville 1-1. Conference Record: USCU 9-9, Jacksonville 9-9. Series Record: Jacksonville leads, 8-3.
GAME NOTES: The quarterfinal round of the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament comes to a close on Thursday night, as the fourth-seeded Jacksonville Dolphins square off with the fifth-seeded USC Upstate Spartans at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Georgia.
USC Upstate (15-16, 9-9 A-Sun) appeared to be one of the top teams in conference before it collapsed late in the season, losing six of seven during the month of February. The Spartans managed to bounce back in the regular- season finale however with an 88-56 victory at East Tennessee State last Friday to head into the tournament with some momentum.
Jacksonville too faltered down the stretch, losing six of its last eight games, including three in a row. The Dolphins slipped up at Northern Kentucky last Saturday in the finale, 66-62, to finish 9-9 in the league and dip to 14-17 overall.
Jacksonville leads the all-time series with USC Upstate, 8-3, although the teams split the season series this year, with each winning at home.
In its tune-up for this tournament, USC Upstate dominated its road matchup with ETSU, shooting 49.2 percent from the field (including 13-of-28 from 3- point range), while holding the Buccaneers to only 35.2 percent efficiency in the 32-point victory. Torrey Craig was busy from long range, shooting 6-of-13 on 3-pointers, for 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Ty Greene (17 points) also handed out five helpers, while Adrian Rodgers and Ricardo Glenn tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively. On the season, the Spartans have proven to be capable of great things at the offensive end of the court, averaging 70.2 ppg while being one of only three teams in the league with a positive scoring margin (+3.7). Craig is the A-Sun's top scorer with 17.2 ppg, and he is also the team's top rebounder with 7.1 caroms per contest. Glenn is stellar down low with 10.7 ppg and 8.0 rpg, and Greene pours in 12.5 ppg thanks largely to 72 3-pointers.
Jacksonville appeared well on its way to a win in its regular-season finale, as it was up by 13 points with just 2:36 to play, but it suffered a monumental collapse as Northern Kentucky ended the game on a 21-4 run to capture the four-point win. The late-game meltdown took away from a strong shooting performance (.512), with Keith McDougald leading the way with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Jarvis Haywood chipped in 11 points, while Javon Dawson narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 boards. The Dolphins have failed to stand out at either end of the court on the campaign, boasting a scoring margin of just -3.4. McDougald is typically the catalyst with 13.4 ppg, while Haywood brings 11.3 ppg to the table. Glenn Powell adds stability to the frontcourt with 9.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg and nearly a block and a steal per contest.
Although it hasn't showed it much in recent weeks, when USC Upstate puts it all together, it can compete with anyone in the conference. Their lack of consistency is worrisome, but considering the Spartans' latest outing, they seem primed and ready to make a title run.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC Upstate 74, Jacksonville 67
03/07 10:33:36 ET