Game #8-592: South Carolina-Upstate Spartans at Lipscomb BisonsFebruary 18, 2012 7:30 pm
Last week, "my team," the WKU Hilltoppers, traveled to Sun Belt leader Middle Tennessee for a Thursday night tilt. We have family in Murfreesboro, Tenn., including cousins of my children. My five-year-old son
was exceedingly sad that the late tip time, combined with a 1.5-hour drive and it being a school night, prevented him from going with me. I have to be honest; while we have thoroughly enjoyed many Topper games this season and plotted every D-I basketball team (in their appropriate colors) on a homemade United States map as a father-son excercise, I did not expect such strong disappointment. So, I promised to find another "Tennessee basketball game" to make up for this school-night rejection (and this has me thinking about a multi-day tour of college hoops on Christmas break next season). So, after perusing the last couple of weekends of the season, I liked the look of SC-Upstate at Lipscomb.
Lipscomb perennially fields a competitive team. But, honestly, Upstate intrigued me more due to their kinship with my beloved Toppers on the youth front. Freshman logged 43 percent of possible minutes last night for the Spartans, and those frosh plus the sophomores accounted for 94.5 percent of the minutes. That, my friends, is astounding, especially given that Upstate is very new to D-I hoops and that they are clearly one of the "big three" in the A-Sun this year. They have beaten Belmont already this season. This is dangerous team right now, and they essentially lose nothing for 2012-13. I was amped to see them up close.
While I had played up how cool the Lipscomb Bisons mascot was on the drive down, my son claimed Upstate as "his team" right away. When I asked him why, the answer came quickly: "I like their black, green and white uniforms." He also marveled at the complex scoreboards, and we both nearly jumped out of our skin the first time we heard the Allen Arena buzzer, i.e., the Sonic Assaulter. It is flat-out deafening and frightening. Some arenas have nice, soft horns. Others have comedic buzzers or beeps or honkers. Allen Arena's buzzer does not "sound" -- it protests. It rages. It attacks.
After a tightly played, but not tightly called (it was brutally rough!), first half, Lipscomb guard Deonte Alexander took over defensively at the start of the second half and the rest of his team followed suit. The Bisons uncorked a long, steady run that build a lead as large as 14, but Upstate responded by cranking up their full-court pressure and for just a few minutes turned it into a track meet which favored them. Upstate's superior athleticism showed up not only on the press, but on the offensive glass, and they clawed back in a hurry eventually taking a three-point lead late in the game. The teams traded the lead in the closing minutes, with Lipscomb making a late three to take a two-point lead.
Upstate called a timeout with nine seconds to play. After the final inbound, Lipscomb dug in and frantically defended Greene as he dribbled around the perimeter looking for an opening. There was none, as the Bison walled up Greene at every turn. So with the sand nearly completely out of the hourglass, he set his feet and launched a triple from the wing. The sweet, nestling sound I am sure it made as it traveled through the net had no chance of being heard as the Sonic Assaulter issued its final, painful, T-Rexian bellow during the ball's successful journey. It carried with it a sense of absolute protest and disbelief as it screamed out its last blare, but finally gave way to wild cheers from the 50 or so Upstate fans who made the trip, as well as the din of the Spartan players that lay on top of Greene in a black, green and white pile o' joy. The refs would check to make sure the shot was away in time, but there was no doubt on the faces of the Bison faithful. It was good.
Upstate is now 8-1 in their last nine, and with their trapping defense, bevy of athletes, and a couple of sharpshooters, they have the goods to get it done in a tournament setting. They go for the sweep of Belmont on Monday. Win that, and they may wear the favorite tag heading into the A-Sun tourney.
|SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE 62, at LIPSCOMB 61|
SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE 18-10 (11-4) -- T. Craig 2-11 1-2 7; T. Greene 5-10 3-6 17; J. Maxey 1-5 1-2 3; R. Glenn 4-7 0-0 8; M. Blessing 1-7 0-0 2; A. Rodgers 1-4 0-0 2; B. Olumuyiwa 6-8 1-2 13; F. Miller 2-5 0-0 5; C. Rogers 1-2 0-0 3; R. Elam 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-60 6-12 62.
LIPSCOMB 12-15 (7-8) -- M. Smith 3-5 1-2 9; J. Arnett 2-5 0-0 5; D. Alexander 4-12 1-2 12; J. Glenn 5-6 0-2 10; D. Smith 1-4 2-2 4; Z. Williams 3-6 0-0 6; M. Smith 3-7 1-2 7; C. Sanderson 3-6 0-0 8. Totals 24-51 5-10 61.
Three-point goals: SCU 8-22 (C. Rogers 1-1; T. Craig 2-7; T. Greene 4-8; F. Miller 1-2; A. Rodgers 0-1; M. Blessing 0-3), LIP 8-19 (J. Arnett 1-3; C. Sanderson 2-4; Z. Williams 0-1; D. Alexander 3-8; M. Smith 2-3); Rebounds: SCU 37 (J. Maxey 11), LIP 28 (J. Glenn 5); Assists: SCU 11 (M. Blessing 4), LIP 14 (J. Glenn 3); Total Fouls -- SCU 14, LIP 11; Fouled Out: SCU-None; LIP-None.
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