Just shy of three weeks remain in Big South Conference play, with play-in games set to roll in the home facilities of the seventh and eighth seeds in 20 days. The only thing we really know about the seeding fallout right now is that, as usual with the Big South, we know next to nothing. Ties abound across the league landscape, which will likely change quite a bit over the next seven days. More on that in a minute, however.
Players of the Week – February 6
Winthrop senior guard Keon Johnson took Player of the Week honors. Johnson helped cement the honor with a career-high 39 points (24 in the closing stanza) in a 76-62 victory Saturday over Campbell. That effort came on the heels of a 23-point effort at Radford. The preseason Big South Player of the Year stands second in the league in scoring at 21.5 points per game (Campbell’s Chris Clemons leads the league at 23 ppg), and second in the league in three-point shots (again, behind Clemons).
Charleston Southern guard Christian Keeling won the Come Ready Nutrition Freshman of the Week award for the fourth time this season. Keeling topped a 14-point, seven-rebound effort against co-league leader UNC Asheville with a 22-point, nine-board outing in an overtime victory over Presbyterian. Keeling ranks fifth among league scorers, averaging 16.7 points per contest. The Bucs’ prolific guard also ranks seventh in the circuit in rebounding — leading all freshmen — at 6.5 boards per game.
Gardner-Webb 90, Longwood 64
Runnin’ Bulldogs hit a blistering 54 percent from the floor. Five Gardner-Webb scorers finished in double figures, including David Efianayi’s team-leading 20. Isaiah Walton led Longwood with 20, joined by Khris Lane’s 16.
Winthrop 76, Campbell 62
Johnson’s aforementioned 39 paced the Eagles in Saturday afternoon’s result. Xavier Cooks added 15 points and nine boards for Winthrop. League scoring leader Chris Clemons poured in 24 for Campbell, while forward Mogga Lado hit all five tries to finish with 10.
Charleston Southern 71, Presbyterian 65 (OT)
Keeling’s 22 were punctuated by a perfect 9-for-9 effort from the charity stripe. Three other Bucs finished in double digits (Rae Robinson 13, Antwan Maxwell Jr. 12, Javis Howard 10). Jo’Vontae Millner’s 19 led the Blue Hose, with Ed Drew tallying a double-double (18 points, 10 boards) and Darius Moore contributing 14.
UNC Asheville 74, High Point 71
The Bulldogs staved off a last-second try from the Panthers to take home the hard-fought road victory. Asheville’s 51.9 percent shooting night just edged High Point’s 50.9 percent from the field. Ahmad Thomas scored 19 and MaCio Teague 18 for the visitors, among four Bulldogs in double digits. Ricky Madison’s 18 (9-for-10 from the field) topped the Panthers’ score sheet.
Liberty 57, Radford 54
The Flames trailed by three at the interval, but their vise-like defense limited Radford to 7-of-19 shooting (2-of-10 from distance) in the closing half. Liberty was held equally at bay by the Highlanders, as they connected on just 7-of-23 tries (1-of-11 from three) in the finishing twenty. Dynamic freshman playmaker Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz paced Liberty in points (15) and rebounds (six) on the night. Four Highlander scorers reached doubles, totaling 42 of Radford’s 54 points.
1. Winthrop (10-2)*
2. UNC Asheville (10-2)**
3. Liberty (10-2)
4. High Point (7-5)***
5. Gardner-Webb (7-5)
6. Campbell (4-8)****
7. Charleston Southern (4-8)*****
8. Radford (4-8)
9. Longwood (3-9)
10. Presbyterian (1-11)
* – Winthrop holds victories over UNC Asheville and Liberty
** – UNC Asheville holds a victory over Liberty
*** – High Point holds a victory over Gardner-Webb
**** – Campbell holds victories over Charleston Southern and Radford
***** – Charleston Southern holds a victory over Radford
The notion of breaking ties is easy enough — for now. We’ll see a lot of these ties being broken as these teams face each other in the coming days (Campbell/CSU, CSU/Radford, Winthrop/Asheville, Asheville/Liberty, etc.), but there is a page-long tiebreaking procedure that would snap stalemates between two or three teams. We will share those in this space, should the need arise.
If the tournament started today:
Tuesday, February 28
(10) Presbyterian at (7) Charleston Southern
(9) Longwood at (8) Radford
Thursday, March 2 (Quarterfinals – at site of regular-season champion)
Games will be played at 1:00, 3:00, 7:00 and 9:00
PC/CSU winner vs. (2) UNC Asheville
(6) Campbell vs. (3) Liberty
(5) Gardner-Webb vs. (4) High Point
Longwood/Radford winner vs. (1) Winthrop
Friday, March 3 (Semifinals – at site of regular-season champion)
Games will be played at 6:00 and 8:00
PC/CSU/Asheville vs. Campbell/Liberty
Gardner-Webb/High Point vs. Longwood/Radford/Winthrop
Sunday, March 5 (Final – at site of highest remaining seed)
This Week’s Games (all times Eastern and broadcasts on BigSouthSports.com, unless otherwise noted)
Thursday, February 9
Longwood at Campbell, 7
Charleston Southern at Radford, 7
Liberty at Gardner-Webb, 7
High Point at Presbyterian, 7
Winthrop at UNC Asheville, 7 (ESPNU)
Saturday, February 11
Gardner-Webb at Winthrop, noon (ASN)
Charleston Southern at Liberty, 2 (ESPN3)
Campbell at Presbyterian, 4:30
UNC Asheville at Longwood, 5
Radford at High Point, 7