The election in South Carolina has been filled with many plot twists and turns.
With the College of Charleston being the center of the election cycle in our state, a "Huckabee" forum, CNN showing all its live shows the day before the primary from the college, a still CNN camera inside the Cistern (the center of our campus), MSNBC probably coming and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (the biggest Republican convention other than the one in Tampa in August) being held in TD Arena next week leading up to the Jan. 21 primary, the school has a lot going on in the next week.
I was going to do an election-based recap, but then something really strange happened in the game, which you can never predict. An upset the style of Alvin Greene winning the S.C. Democratic primary in 2010 occurred.
Anything can happen in our fair game. UNCG entered Thursday night's game at the College of Charleston with a record of 2-14. Its only wins had been in November, victories over UNC-Pembroke and Towson. It fired its coach, Mike Dement, and replaced him with former North Carolina star Wes Miller, who was well-received by many fans in Greensboro.
They were facing CofC, which had an 11-4 record. After getting worked at Wofford, it came back to defeat Furman on Saturday. Now, it had Greensboro on Thursday night in a game that most expected the Cougars to win. They had injury problems earlier in the week, with Trent Wiedeman having his ankle heavily taped during the Furman game and Andrew Lawrence having cramping troubles.
I got there about 40 minutes before game time, and a good crowd of students was already at TD Arena. Pregame was routine, with all the normal things that you usually see during a good mid-major basketball game. The student section was almost full (not shown here), with the normal crowd that you usually see.
Anthony Stitt started his second game in a row, replacing Jordan Scott.
The Cougars started off fast, getting out to a 10-point lead early in the first half. But UNCG did not want to fold. UNCG kept making 3-pointers, caused the Cougars to get into foul trouble and played an inspired first half. It took a one-point, 36-35 lead over the Cougars at halftime. This was a stunning development for the fans, most of whom were amazed they were in a tight game.
It got worse for the Cougars. Stitt, who has been a consistent performer through the season as the sixth man, broke his left hand after the ball got stuck and hit two of his fingers about midway through the first half. He is out six weeks and has a cast on his left hand.
This continues a streak of freaky injuries that CofC has dealt with in the past few seasons. In 2009-'10, Antwaine Wiggins tore his ACL working out on his own weeks before the season started. That is why he's playing this year. Last season, Jeremy Simmons, the team's top big man, had a blood clot in his arm develop after the home game versus Wofford. He was out for the season.
This season, Willis Hall, who was supposed to be the glue of the defense and one of the team's tallest players, tore his ACL before the season started -- not even in practice, but in conditioning drills the week before practice started. This was another problem for the Cougars.
CofC in the second half was not playing well, losing in every part of the game. It was up six at several points but couldn't lengthen the lead any further. Nothing was going well for the Cougars: bad rebounding, missed 3-pointers, poor officiating (even with noted college basketball ref Ted Valentine), foul trouble and tired players.
UNCG had the edge for much of the second half, but it was a small edge. However, UNCG pulled ahead with about four minutes to go and never gave up the lead. CofC hit only 29 percent of its shots in the second half, while UNCG hit 43 percent. CofC couldn't make its 3-point shots, usually a hallmark, either.
By the end of the game, half the crowd had left, and the rest was stunned, even the dozen or so UNCG fans sitting in the front row behind the team's bench. They thought UNCG could put up a fight and play a good game, but never could they think their team would dominate in the final five minutes in one of the toughest environments in the Southern Conference.
CofC had never lost two straight games in TD Arena. It hadn't lost two straight at home since 2008. And it hadn't lost a conference home game since February 2010. All of these streaks were broken, by a team that won two games, one against a Division II team and the other against a winless team, this season. The fans left sad, but they had a game Saturday that was just as important.
You can never figure out college basketball. Just when you think it is going to be predictable, it bites. That's what makes it the sport we love.
NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 73, at CHARLESTON 66 01/12/2012
NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 3-14 (1-4) -- T. Simpson 6-15 3-4 16; D. Armstrong 5-11 5-5 16; D. Parker 3-6 0-0 9; A. Henry 3-7 1-5 7; D. Williams 1-4 2-4 4; K. Randall 1-5 0-0 2; N. Paulos 4-5 2-2 11; K. Van Dussen 2-2 1-2 6; T. Hoffer 0-0 0-0 0; A. Brackett 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 26-59 14-22 73. CHARLESTON 11-5 (3-2) -- A. Lawrence 3-12 7-9 14; T. Wiedeman 5-10 5-6 15; A. Wiggins 5-13 1-4 14; M. Sundberg 2-7 0-0 5; N. Johnson 1-6 2-4 4; A. Baru 4-8 1-5 9; J. Scott 2-2 0-0 5; A. Stitt 0-2 0-0 0; B. Benton 0-0 0-0 0; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 16-28 66.
Three-point goals: UNCG 7-18 (K. Randall 0-3; K. Van Dussen 1-1; D. Parker 3-5; T. Simpson 1-5; D. Armstrong 1-2; N. Paulos 1-2), COFC 6-26 (A. Wiggins 3-7; M. Sundberg 1-5; A. Lawrence 1-7; N. Johnson 0-4; J. Scott 1-1; A. Stitt 0-2); Rebounds: UNCG 43 (A. Henry 11), COFC 31 (T. Wiedeman 9); Assists: UNCG 11 (D. Parker 4), COFC 10 (A. Wiggins 3); Total Fouls -- UNCG 22, COFC 20; Fouled Out: UNCG-None; COFC-T. Wiedeman.