I wrote the recap for this one for the Rock Hill Herald on Saturday — go read it, won’t you? — and now take you inside the numbers of an 84-78, Senior Day victory for Winthrop over High Point.
- After not playing — or even making the trip — for Winthrop against USC Upstate in a Thursday victory, Freshman of the Year candidate DJ Burns worked his way back into action Saturday. Burns did not start, but did score four points and corral four boards in 12 minutes of play. He also earned praise from Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey for his hustle in going after a loose ball.
“Remember when DJ — that’s a large lad, now. That’s a big dude. That was a loose ball, and there was no hesitation. I feel sorry for the High Point kid that was diving for the same ball, but DJ got on the floor, somebody else got on the floor, (forward) Chase (Claxton) … It was one of those scrums that we’ll, for sure, have on a recruiting video. When you talk about the Winthrop Way, how you play, and you’re trying to show what your brand looks like, mark it down, that one will be on there.” – Kelsey
- This came up in my gamer, but guard Chandler Vaudrin was two points and two boards shy of another triple-double. He also finished two assists off the single-game record of 17, set nearly 40 years ago. I’m not completely sure if Vaudrin’s number was the Division I record at Winthrop, but that seems like a reasonable hypothesis. Vaudrin eclipsed his single-game high as an Eagle — which, coincidentally, came when he recorded his lone D1 triple-double January 2 against Longwood.
- High Point was already playing without star guard Curtis Holland, who had been replaced in the lineup by Rob Peterson III over the last 14 games. Peterson did not play Saturday, and neither did guard Denny Slay. As such, High Point played just eight players, with guard John-Michael Hughes logging double-digit minutes for just the second time all season and the first time against a D1 opponent. The reasons for Peterson and Slay’s absences were not disclosed.
- Josh Ferguson and Hunter Hale were honored as part of Winthrop’s Senior Day festivities. Ferg offered opinions on a number of subjects — as did Hunter — after the game.
Ferguson on his four years at Winthrop:
“It’s been amazing. Looking back, it seems like it went fast, but four years is a long time. I’m just glad I came here. When I came on my visit, I committed the next day, and canceled all my (other) visits. If I had a chance again, I’d do the same thing, if I had the opportunity. (I’ll remember) how the community accepted us, through mistakes that I made, everything like that. There was just a lot of love. I’m real happy I came here.”
Ferguson on what he learned from stars Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks and passed on to others:
“How they work, their leadership, their drive, and the confidence that they have. My freshman year, going to the tournament, I remember Keon Johnson, if it was a close game, we’d go in the huddle (and) before Coach even said anything, it was like, ‘Give me the shot. I’m shooting the ball.’ The next year, it was Xay. Now, me and Hunt have that kind of confidence.
The trust in how they lead by example. I’m not much of a vocal guy — or Keon or Xay, either — leading by example is like, ‘Okay, he’s doing that, and he’s not even complaining.’ We’ve got a lot of young guys, so leading like that in practice. I’m not much of a vocal guy, but just leading by example, they usually follow the right way.”
Ferguson on how he’s changed in his four years:
“My game’s evolved so much. Our program — with Coach Kelsey, (he’s) always putting his faith first, so I got stronger in my faith. That was a real good thing that I liked from coming out of here … How I see the game, how I prepare for the game. In high school, there’s no scouting reports, there’s no exercise in the gym — just how much more seriously I’ve taken the game.”
Hale on Winthrop taking 41 threes in the game:
“We get our shots up. All of us get our shots up. That’s what we do. We had a lot of open looks, too. That’s part of the reason we got a lot of shots from three.”
Hale on what his grad year at Winthrop has taught him:
“To be myself. (To) be confident in who I am as a man, and trust my teammates. I came from a place where I was taking all the shots, all the time. Coming in here and knowing that all the other guys are capable of doing the exact same thing (and) making big-time plays any given night. Just trusting them, and knowing that I’ve gotta play for them, just like they play for me, and we play for our coaches and play for each other.”
I asked Kelsey a question about each of his seniors. Here’s his response (press play):
And finally, the Hustle Stats:
- Points in the paint: High Point 32, Winthrop 26
- Points off turnovers: Winthrop 25, High Point 17
- Winthrop forced 17 High Point turnovers, and registered 40 deflections, as Kelsey mentioned in the postgame media availability
- Second-chance points: Winthrop 15, High Point 5
- Winthrop grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, helping to contribute to this total
- Fast-break points: Winthrop 5, High Point 3
- Bench points: Winthrop 30, High Point 17
WINTHROP 84, HIGH POINT 76
HIGH POINT (9-22, 6-12 BIG SOUTH): Coleman 1-6 0-0 2, Sanchez 2-3 1-2 5, J-M Wright 7-14 7-10 24, J. Wright 9-16 2-3 24, Randleman 2-5 0-0 4, Izunabor 2-4 1-2 5, Thomas 3-4 3-4 9, Hughes 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 27-55 14-21 76.
WINTHROP (21-10, 10-3): Anumba 2-5 0-0 5, Ferguson 5-7 2-2 14, Hale 8-16 0-1 22, Zunic 1-4 2-2 5, Vaudrin 4-9 0-2 8, Jones 2-6 0-0 5, Falden 3-9 0-0 9, King 2-5 0-0 6, Burns 2-4 0-0 4, Claxton 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 31-67 6-9 84.
Halftime — Winthrop 46-42. 3-Point Goals—Winthrop 16-41 (Anumba 1-3, Ferguson 2-4, Hale 6-12, Zunic 1-4, Vaudrin 0-3, Jones 1-3, Falden 3-8, King 2-4), High Point 8-20 (Coleman 0-3, J-M Wright 3-6, J. Wright 4-7, Randleman 0-1, Hughes 1-3). Fouled Out — Anumba (WU). Rebounds — Winthrop 40 (Falden 9), High Point 30 (Sanchez 8). Assists —Winthrop 23 (Vaudrin 15), High Point 14 (Sanchez/J-M Wright/J. Wright 3). Total Fouls —Winthrop 20, High Point 17. Technical — NA. A —2523.
HERCULES TIRES MEN’S BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
First Round – Tuesday, March 3 – ESPN3
Game 1: #10 High Point at #7 USC Upstate, 7:00pm
Game 2: #11 Campbell at #6 UNC Asheville, 7:00pm
Game 3: #9 Presbyterian at #8 Charleston Southern, 7:00pm
Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 5 – ESPN3
Game 3: #2 Winthrop vs. #7/10 winner, 12:00pm
Game 4: #3 Gardner-Webb vs. #6/11 winner, 2:00pm
Game 5: #1 Radford vs. #8/9 winner, 6:00pm
Game 6: #4 Longwood vs. #5 Hampton, 8:00pm
Semifinals – Friday, March 6 – ESPN+
Game 7: Semifinals – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6:00pm
Game 8: Semifinals – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8:00pm
Championship – Sunday, March 8 – ESPN
Game 9: Championship – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1:00pm